Category: Military and Defense

“They Dropped Bombs On Us!”

Almost half a century after United States B-52 bombers dropped more than 500,000 tonnes of explosives on Cambodia’s countryside Washington wants the country to repay a $US500 million ($662 million) war debt.

The demand has prompted expressions of indignation and outrage from Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh.

US Air Force B-52 dropping bombs over Southeast Asia in the 1960s.© Public Domain US Air Force B-52 dropping bombs over Southeast Asia in the 1960s.

Over 200 nights in 1973 alone, 257,456 tons of explosives fell in secret carpet-bombing sweeps – half as many as were dropped on Japan during the Second World War.

The pilots flew at such great heights they were incapable of discriminating between a Cambodian village and their targets, North Vietnamese supply lines – nicknamed the “Ho Chi Minh Trail.”

The bombs were of such massive tonnage they blew out eardrums of anyone standing within a 1-kiolmetre radius.

Opposed: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh.© AP Opposed: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh.

War correspondent James Pringle was two kilometres away from a B-52 strike near Cambodia’s border.

“It felt like the world was coming to an end,” he recalls.

A string of bombs dropped by a US plane exploding across fields in Southeast Asia.© Supplied A string of bombs dropped by a US plane exploding across fields in Southeast Asia.

According to one genocide researcher, up to 500,000 Cambodians were killed, many of them children.

The bombings drove hundreds of thousands of ordinary Cambodians into the arms of the Khmer Rouge, an ultra-Marxist organisation which seized power in 1975 and over the next four years presided over the deaths of more than almost two million people through starvation disease and execution.

The debt started out as a US$274 million loan mostly for food supplies to the then US-backed Lon Nol government but has almost doubled over the years as Cambodia refused to enter into a re-payment program.

William Heidt, the US’s ambassador in Phnom Penh, said Cambodia’s failure to pay back the debt puts it in league with Sudan, Somalia and Zimbabwe.

“To me, Cambodia does not look like a country that should be in arrears…buildings coming up all over the city, foreign investment coming in, government revenue is rapidly rising,” Mr Heidt was quoted as saying by the Cambodia Daily.

“I’m saying it is in Cambodia’s interest not to look to the past, but to look at how to solve this because it’s important to Cambodia’s future,” he said, adding that the US has never seriously considered cancelling the debt.

Cambodia’s strongman prime minister Hen Sen, a former Khmer Rouge commander who defected to Vietnam, hit back, saying “The US created problems in my country and is demanding money from me.”

“They dropped bombs on our heads and then ask up to repay. When we do not repay, they tell the IMF (International Monetary Fund) not to lend us money,” he told an international conference in early March.

“We should raise our voices to talk about the issue of the country that has invaded other (countries) and has killed children.”

Mr Pringle, a former Reuters bureau chief in Ho Chi Minh City, said no-one could call him a supporter of Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia with an iron-fist for three decades.

But he said on this matter he is “absolutely correct.”

“Cambodia does not owe a brass farthing to the US for help in destroying its people, its wild animals, its rice fields and forest cover,” he wrote in the Cambodia Daily.

American Elizabeth Becker, one of the few correspondents who witnessed the Khmer Rouge’s genocide, has also written that the US “owes Cambodia more in war debts that can be repaid in cash.”

Mr Hun Sen pointed out that craters still dot the Cambodian countryside and villagers are still unearthing bombs, forcing mass evacuations until they can be deactivated.

“There are a lot of grenades and bombs left. That’s why so often Cambodian children are killed, because they don’t know that they are unexploded ordnance,” he said.

“And who did it? It’s America’s bombs and grenades.”

http://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/world/fury-in-cambodia-as-us-asks-to-be-paid-back-hundreds-of-millions-in-war-debts/ar-AAo7Pns?li=BBqdg4K&ocid=SK2MDHP

 

 

“NATOs Judgement Is Coming”

Although I’d advise reading this with some discernment and discretion, and I don’t personally agree entirely with the pro-Russia/Pro-China emphasis (both nations have done plenty of provoking of their own and have played as much a part in engineering this situation as the “warmongering West” in my opinion) I nevertheless felt this worth publishing as something that’s barely being mentioned in the mainstream news. I leave the reader to form your own views on the situation: “Think For Yourself”.

Martin.

 

To All,

 

ALERT NEWS Russian US and Turkish Generals Meeting Now

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uef0FOgruhM

 

 

China’s retaliation against THAAD deployment continues…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbW1U2mNXfs

 

So now we have literally tens of thousands of American and NATO troops and military equipment being set up in eastern Europe further provoking the Russian bear, while at the same time this is happening, this week the US is also installing its THAAD missile system in South Korea now seriously provoking China and Russia.

 

As you will see from the video clips, both Russia and China warned the United States against both these aggressive military tactics in the middle of last year, but warmongering Trump and Uncle Sam are obviously not listening. The THAAD missiles can be offensive or defensive and carry nuclear warheads up to about 20 kilotons of explosive power each. But compared to Russia’s new RS-28 at 100 megatons, just one Russian missile is only about 7,800 times more powerful!

 

Have you heard the term, “He who plays with fire will get burnt”?

 

If things were to get out of control, at the snap of the fingers now, a Third World [nuclear] War could begin at any moment.

 

Yet not a single word about this at all on the entirely corrupt, controlled New Zealand media. Indeed not a word about these potentially momentous events by anybody. No. Not by anybody. Is EVERYBODY SO IGNORANT AND UNCONCERNED to remain silent????  Would it not be fair to say then that we all deserve what’s coming!

 

I mean, really, can you imagine how Americans would feel if Russia or China built a whole string of major military bases, radar tracking stations and missile bases like this all along the Canadian and Mexican borders? Yet that is what the United States is doing to Russia and now China. Indeed, the United States has over 800 military bases positioned all around the world now. They have almost completely destroyed the Middle East, and you mean to tell me they are not the warmongers and the aggressors!

 

Believe me, NATO’s and America’s judgment is coming. That is why many of America’s billionaires who see these developments accelerating, are getting bolt-holes down here at present.

 

Yet it still continues to amaze me people actually vote for low-life politicians to keep this military insanity going.

 

Really, if you or your nation are stupid enough to provoke the Russian bear or the Chinese dragon too often, don’t blame me if you end up suffering the fiery consequences!

 

 

Jack.

 

 

Driving Towards Nuclear Disaster: North Korea

Hard to believe this little communist nation can generate so much fuss. More manufactured diversion? One minute it’s imminent financial collapse, the next it’s imminent nuclear Armageddon.

What next…?

http://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/world/world-leaders-condemn-north-korea-over-missile-launches/ar-AAnU70A?li=BBqdg4K&ocid=SK2MDHP

Image result for north korea nuclear war

 

A shocked international community has condemned North Korea after it launched four ballistic missiles on Monday morning, three of which fell into Japanese waters.

Calling on Pyongyang to “stop its provocative actions”, the British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, said the launches were in violation of multiple UN security council resolutions and threatened international peace and security.

The Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said “strong protests” had been lodged with nuclear-armed North Korea, saying the scale of the attack represented a new development. “It is an extremely dangerous action,” he said.

South Korea’s acting president, Hwang Kyo-ahn, condemned the launches as a direct challenge to the international community and said Seoul would swiftly deploy a US anti-missile defence system despite angry objections from China.

Meanwhile, North Korea warned that military exercises by the US and South Korea were driving the region towards nuclear disaster.

In a letter to the UN security council on Monday, North Korea’s ambassador Ja Song Nam claimed the joint exercises that began on 1 March were “the most undisguised nuclear war manoeuvres”.

He said: “Consequently, the situation on the Korean peninsula is again inching to the brink of a nuclear war.”

North Korea’s four missiles flew about 620 miles, with three of them landing in waters that Japan claims as its exclusive economic zone. A fourth splashed down just outside the EEZ.

South Korea said it was too early to say what the relatively low altitude indicated about the types of missiles, but experts said the launch did not look like an inter-continental ballistic missile, but the launch of previously tested missile.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Captain Jeff Davis, confirmed the US had seen no ICBM launch attempt but otherwise gave no clear response to the missile launches.

He did suggest more missiles may have been fired, telling reporters: “There were four that landed. There may be a higher number of launches that we’re not commenting on. But four landed and splashed in the Sea of Japan.”

The EU foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, said the launches showed “utter disregard” for several UN resolutions, while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was “seriously worried”. “These are the sort of actions that lead to a rise in tension in the region and of course in this situation, traditionally, Moscow calls for restraint from all sides,” Peskov said.

Speaking on behalf of the UK, Johnson said: “We urge North Korea to stop its provocative actions, which threaten international peace and security. North Korea should instead re-engage with the international community, and take credible, concrete steps to prioritise the wellbeing of its own people instead of the illegal pursuit of its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.”

The French foreign office said: “We call on North Korea to immediately comply with its international obligations and to ensure the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of its nuclear and ballistic programmes.”

The test launches appeared to be a reaction to huge US-South Korean military drills last week which those countries consider routine but which are viewed as an invasion rehearsal by Kim Jong-un.

The US has about 28,500 troops and equipment stationed in South Korea, and plans to roll out the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) anti-missile defence system by the end of the year.

Japan also plans to reinforce its ballistic missile defences and is considering buying either Thaad or building a ground-based version of the Aegis system that is currently deployed on ships in the Sea of Japan.

The launches also come as Kim’s regime faces international isolation over the killing of Kim Jong-nam, the leader’s half-brother, in Kuala Lumpur airport last month.

On Sunday Malaysia expelled the North Korean ambassador over the death, a move which prompted Pyongyang to announce a tit-for-tat expulsion of Malaysia’s ambassador to North Korea. State media said the Malaysian envoy would leave within 48 hours.

“Nightmare” Robots Are Here!

Rise of the machines?

If the Terminator had a pet, it might look like one of these horrors.

Is this the future policeman? The future soldier? Scary…..

Commentary: Is This How World War Three Starts?

By Nolan Peterson

 

It’s cold, and I’m alone. I walk along Khreshchatyk, this city’s main boulevard. The street lights cast shadows on the ground, concealing patches of slippery ice and trampled snow. I walk thoughtfully and carefully, unable to clearly see the obstacles in my path.

As is so often the case in a foreign country, even in one that starts to feel like home, the compiled differences in language and life experience isolate you, making you hyper aware to minute details.

A small group of soldiers in uniform huddle outside a bar. They’re smoking cigarettes. A group of pretty young women in leather high-heeled boots and black fur coats walk past. The soldiers are young men, but they hardly seem to notice. Their war isn’t over, and they’re not yet ready to pretend like it is.

Old women sell trinkets like blue and yellow wristbands (Ukraine’s national colors) at souvenir stands on the sidewalk across the street from a Niketown store. Like when I first arrived in Ukraine three years ago, the old women’s wares include rolls of toilet paper and door mats adorned with the likeness of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Up in the windows of some of the apartments along Khreshchatyk, Ukrainian flags hang. Ukraine is, by the way, the only country outside of the United States where I have observed such an ubiquitous display of the national colors.

There are also a few red and black flags of Ukrainian partisan groups, which fought against both the Nazis and the Red Army in World War II. Reminders of this country’s tragic history trapped between the armies of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin in the no man’s land of the deadliest battlefield in the deadliest war in human history.

Today, this country remains at the front lines of the same ideological fault lines from World War II, which are reopening across Europe and the world.

In 1935, as war clouds gathered in Europe, the American author and war correspondent Ernest Hemingway wrote:

War is no longer made by simply analyzed economic forces if it ever was. War is made or planned now by individual men, demagogues and dictators who play on the patriotism of their people to mislead them into a belief in the great fallacy of war when all their vaunted reforms have failed to satisfy the people they misrule.

Background

The war is still there, even when I don’t go to it.

Nothing has changed in the past two years since the February 15, 2015, cease-fire was signed. Except for what has been lost in the time in between.

More than 10,000 are now dead, almost 2 million have fled their homes. About $20 billion worth of damage to repair.

And yet, nothing has been won or lost. Although, the war hasn’t gotten any worse. And Ukrainians’ dream of a better life, free from oppression and corruption, which inspired the 2014 revolution, has not yet died.

That’s a victory, too, I suppose.

I walk along Khreshchatyk to the Maidan, Kiev’s central square where the revolution was born three years ago. Today, on this evening, the Maidan is not crowded. Only faint, scattered clues of the revolution remain.

Faded burn marks remain on the stone floor of the square, where protesters burned tires as a smoke screen from the snipers. The Trade Unions Building, which was set ablaze on February 18, 2014, is still a burnt out skeleton. White panels conceal it from view. “Glory to Ukraine” is written in giant letters.

The war has become the invisible background din to life in Ukraine. You won’t notice its clues unless you purposefully pay attention for them. But the war is always there, stealthily ever-present.

There is a street performer playing guitar, somehow able to operate his fingers in the brutal cold. He plays a Ukrainian-language song about the war. A man wearing a loose-fitting, mismatched military uniform stands apart, watching. He has a bottle of horilka (Ukrainian for vodka) in his hand, from which he sips frequently. His eyes are half-closed, and he sways out of rhythm to the music, mouthing the words.

The hardest part of war is often the coming home. Wars, after all, never really end for those who fight in them. That’s just as true for this war as for any other.

Heroes

I pass through the Maidan and up the steep cobblestone street to the top of the hill overlooking the square.

The street used to be called Institutskaya Street. Now, it’s the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred Street, a reference to the roughly 100 protesters who were killed during the revolution.

The street’s cobblestones have all been replaced. Protesters ripped them out of the ground in 2014 to build defensive barricades against the special police unit, called the Berkut, deployed against them by deposed pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych.

There, at the top of the street, in front of the upper entrance to the Maidan metro station, lies a memorial to the “heavenly hundred.”

At this place, on February 20, 2014, snipers gunned down dozens of unarmed protestors. Today, likenesses of the fallen are etched into metal placards. Passers-by, family members, friends have left flowers and candles beside the many faces.

The fallen, memorialized at this hallowed place, comprise men and women, students and professors, 18-year-olds and 70-year-olds. Hardly the CIA-sponsored Nazis the Kremlin says they were. Rather, ordinary Ukrainians who walked head-on into gunfire to stand up for their freedom.

The price for that freedom was steep. On the ground, in the light poles, in the brittle bark-flesh of the the leafless trees—bullet holes remain.

If you’ve ever been to war, then you know this: Walking toward the sound of gunfire takes a lot of courage.

I feel the cold wind lap at my neck. I hear the click of passing heels on the stone sidewalk. The door to the metro station makes a ratcheting sound as it opens and closes. You can hear that same sound in the YouTube videos of the protestors being gunned down.

Nearby, there are fancy shops, like Cartier, Faberge and Louis Vuitton. There’s a McDonald’s restaurant down the street across the Maidan. That’s where, during the revolution, my friend Valentyn Onyshchenko went to wash his face clean of the blood and bits of brain that spattered on him when a man standing in front of him was shot by a sniper.

Tonight, at this place where so many died three years ago, pedestrians scurry by, on their way to the metro station for the rush-hour commute home.

A man walks by, holding a child’s hand.

The veneer between civilization and barbarism is thinner than we might imagine, I think.

I am within a five-minute walk of my apartment, where my fiancee waits for me. When I get home, if I wanted to, I could order Domino’s Pizza delivery and watch a movie on Netflix through my Apple TV.

I drag my fingers over the bullet holes, as if to confirm, once again, that they are true.

People died here. The snipers shot some of the protesters in the leg. Helpless, they called to their friends to save them. Those comrades rushed up to help, only to be gunned down themselves.

Center of mass. Dead almost instantly. Their bodies fall to the earth in that faster-than-gravity way that dead men do. Like the power has been switched off. Bam, down, dead, done. Nothing dramatic or heroic about it. Just alive and then dead, without any dying in between.

That’s war. But war doesn’t belong in an evening like this, in such a city.

It seems impossible. But it’s real, it’s true. And it’s still happening just hours away. Tanks, heavy artillery, rocket attacks, snipers, trench warfare. In Europe. In 2017.

It’s still happening. People are still dying.

History Repeating

Sure, it feels good to believe that history is moving in the right direction. To retain hope that we, as a species, are better off than we were during, let’s say, World War II, two generations ago.

I think about 72-year-old Anatoli Bastriski sitting on a green bench outside his artillery-razed home in the eastern Ukrainian village of Semyonovka. It was August 2014, weeks after a battle between Ukrainian troops and combined Russian-separatist forces.

Bastriski wore a blue paddy cap and sat with one leg over the other and his arms folded across his thigh. The wall behind him was pockmarked by shrapnel. The street was mostly cleared of debris, but almost every skeleton of a home along the way was unoccupied. There was no one else on the road. The trees were stripped clean of branches and leaves, only the charred trunks survived the artillery barrage.

Bastriski, a Jew, was an infant when the Nazis occupied this part of Ukraine. His family survived the Holocaust, but lost their home in the war.

When the shells started to fall in 2014, Bastriski chose to remain in Semyonovka, riding out the battle in his basement. Even when the roof of his brick home was obliterated by artillery fire, he refused to flee.

“I was born here, and I built my home with my own hands,” Bastriski told me. “The Germans destroyed my parents’ home, and I’ll rebuild this one.”

He cracked a half-smile, shrugged his shoulders, and added, “I’d leave, but the cemetery is too far away.”

Gravity

Will future generations look back on us with the same disbelief that we “didn’t see it coming” as we now look back on those who appeased Hitler, or apologized for Stalin, or Communist Chairman Mao Zedong?

We think that something like World War II could never happen to us, because, well, we’re the ones alive now. We’re different, aren’t we? We have globalization and the United Nations and the internet.

Unfortunately, though, truth has a habit of showing itself, even if we choose to ignore it.

The bullet holes on the sidewalk in Kiev. And the war, which is only a six-hour train ride away. Both reminders that, collectively, we are just treading water, fighting against the gravitational tug of history. The minute we stop kicking, we descend, quickly and easily, into those dark depths from which we thought we had escaped.

“Americans should not take the current international order for granted,” retired General David Petraeus told Congress on February 1. “It did not will itself into existence. We created it. Likewise, it is not naturally self-sustaining. We have sustained it. If we stop doing so, it will fray and, eventually, collapse.”

I must confess, it’s hard to believe in the inevitability of violence on a cold winter’s night in a peaceful, European capital city like Kiev.

The McDonald’s restaurants, the cocktail bars, the fancy shops—it sure feels good to stare at shadows for a night. But the bullet holes, the war—that’s the light at my back, dimming the shadows so much that I can no longer believe in them.

One last thought. I’ve written this sentence before, but it bears repeating:

The only way to prevent the next world war from happening is to believe that it could

http://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/world/comment-nolan-peterson-is-this-how-world-war-iii-starts/ar-AAni4Ut?li=BBqdg4K&ocid=SK2MDHP

“Step Away From The Fence And Put Away The Camera!”

Tuesday afternoon, heading into work, the drive takes me past the airport. I always glance in the direction of the US Antarctic Op. hangars to see what’s there. Usually a C17 Globemaster or an occasional C 130 Hercules. Last week the NASA DC 8 was visible.

But Tuesday? “Holy Crap!” I muttered, reached for my camera….curses! Left it at home again. I count two C17s and six C 130-Ts (The USAF ones with distinctive orange tail), and a big grey tail fin I didn’t recognise. That evening I ID’d it as an RNZAF 757-200, used for shuttling scientists and dignitaries around in comfort.

Yesterday, Wednesday 22 Feb, I was armed and ready. Took the right turn around the back road to airport, straight past the front fence of the base, parked up in the Antarctic Centre (public tourist attraction), and sprinted back up the road.

The two C17s were gone, but everything else was there, so I started snapping pics. As I approached the security gate and stood in the driveway trying to get a good shot, the security guard came out. He wasn’t smiling. I casually start wandering the other way, and see another dayglo vest and security tag emerge from a hangar and begin striding purposefully in my direction (see third pic. pic below). I grin and wave innocently, and back away to the other side of the road. The fun’s over and I’m late for work.

My supervisor asks what the holdup was? “Oh, just nearly got arrested by the USAF” I say casually. “Oh, nothing unusual for you then” he says shaking his head slowly.

It’s nearly end of the summer at the Ice, and these C130s are probably migrating northwards. Maybe they will investigate the nuclear incident that just happened in the Arctic?

Enjoy the pics guys!

Martin.

Has There Been A Nuclear Incident In The Arctic?

There have been rumblings regarding some sort of nuclear incident—or possibly incidents—in the Arctic over the last month. Multiple reports, some of them from official monitoring organizations, have reported iodine 131—a radioactive isotope often associated with nuclear fission—has been detected via air sampling stations throughout the region.

The first detection of the isotope came during the second week of January, via an air sampling station located in Svanhovd, on Norway’s border with Russia’s Kola Peninsula. Within days, air sampling stations as far south as Spain also detected the presence of small amounts of the isotope. The fact that iodine-131 has a half-life of just eight days would point to the release occurring just days earlier, and not being a remnant of a past nuclear event.

Because of the low levels of concentration, there is no health risk to the public or the environment, at least on a wide scale. By comparison, these recent measurements are roughly 1/1000th the size of what was detected during the Fukushima incident and 1/1,000,000th the concentration found in the nuclear tainted cloud that washed across Europe following the Chernobyl disaster.

Iodine 131 levels monitored across Europe last month (IRIN graphic):

After weeks without answers, the story seemed to pass as a peculiarity, not nearly an unprecedented one at that, until Friday when the US dispatched its WC-135 Constant Phoenix atmospheric testing aircraft to Europe without explanation. The highly unique aircraft are specifically designed to respond to nuclear incidents—especially those that include the detonation of nuclear warheads.

By sampling the air over wide areas and at altitude, the aircraft can provide critical data to better understand the “signature” of a radiation release. During nuclear tests, this can help scientists define what type of weapon was detonated, and, in conjunction with other data, how large the blast was. They can also be used to measure the effects and scale of other radiological events, like the meltdown of nuclear plants. For instance, the WC-135s went to work following the 2011 earthquake that resulted in the meltdown of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant.

WC-135 taking off on a mission (USAF photo):

This leaves us with a number of unanswered questions. The first: What are WC-135s doing up there? Was this a good opportunity for a training sortie and to support scientific endeavors, or is it in response to a specific incident?

You can check twitter to see loads of people claiming this is proof that the Russians have restarted nuclear weapons testing at Novaya Zemlya near the Arctic. That assertion is problematic for a variety of reasons. The first is that we have no corresponding seismic data indicating a nuclear detonation from that region. Some have floated the possibility that a small tactical nuclear warhead may have been tested; once again, this still makes a big boom, and it is not clear if the levels of iodine-131 are indicative of such a test. Of course, politically speaking, restarting nuclear weapons testing would signal a massive shift in Moscow’s nuclear weapons policy.

There has been some talk about even the US restarting its nuclear testing under President Trump, but this is largely speculation mixed with hyperbole. Even though we have seen Russia is willing to migrate away from key weapons treaties in order to obtain niche strategic capabilities, violating the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty would signal a whole other level of aggression and defiance.

A more likely possibility is that some sort of limited nuclear material storage, research, or power generation incident has occurred. Russia uses nuclear propulsion for many of its active submarines as well as its Kirov class battlecruisers and its icebreakers. Russia also uses nuclear power in the arctic region for multiple applications. Not just that, but Russia’s northerly naval bases near the arctic are nuclear graveyards of the Cold War.

Hulls of decommissioned nuclear submarines sit idle still waiting to be denuclearized and disposed of. Many have said that over the decades following the end of the Cold War, these vessels are just an accident waiting to happen. Some of these vessels remain on the Kola Peninsula near Murmansk. One of Russia’s largest nuclear waste containment facilities, where the reactors of these decommissioned submarines are stored, is also located nearby at Saida Bay. Today, some 80 reactors and their shredded components are stored there in massive casks. Eventually the facility will accept 155 reactors.

Photo via Sovfoto/UIG via Getty Images:

The Arctic is also dotted with other Cold War relics that relied on nuclear power to function, these include Russia’s nuclear lighthouses and outposts. And this is just what you can see, below the surface, hulks of sunken nuclear vessels and other waste still pose a major threat to the environment. It is not really a question of if they will do harm, but when.

During the Cold War, Russia dumped all types of nuclear waste in the Kara Sea, including an estimated 17,000 containers and 19 vessels full of radioactive waste. The USSR also pitched 14 nuclear reactors, some with spent fuel rods, into the same body of water and other forms of lower-level nuclear waste was just poured directly into the sea. The Russian submarine K-27, which was scuttled in the Kola Sea, is said to be literally a ticking time bomb. That is just that one area, and other areas in the region, such as the Barents Sea (K-159) and Norwegian Sea (K-278), also have abandoned nuclear submarines and who knows what else lining the sea floor. Even the US left its own portion of nuclear waste in the northern latitudes, such as the once secret reactor at Camp Century, in Greenland, although this is minuscule compared to what the Soviets left behind.

A graphic showing the known nuclear waste and wreckage sites near northern Europe and the Arctic (Bellona.org graphic):

On top of all the Russian nuclear material that is actually rotting in arctic, there are also nuclear power, ship maintenance, and research stations that also dot Russia’s northern reaches.

With all this in mind, if there was a peculiar release of iodine-131 into the atmosphere, it is much more likely to have come from the nuclear wasteland that the Soviet Union created, or from operational reactors in the region, and not from some sort of clandestine atomic testing. That doesn’t mean it is impossible, just highly unlikely. There is even a possibility that it didn’t come from Russia at all, and was leaked by a reactor in Europe or elsewhere. Still, with the Arctic likely becoming a key battleground of the future—a reality that has been spurred by Russian military expansion into the region—and considering Moscow’s great change in geopolitical tone and military stance over the last few years, suspicions surrounding Russia’s true intentions in the region are at an all-time high.

Now we’ll have to wait and see if the Pentagon releases more information on the movements and findings of its WC-135, and if there is yet another new spike in radiation coming from the region. If anything else, this mystery should serve of a stark reminder—and a warning—of what mankind has left behind near the arctic, and how perilous a threat it still poses nearly three decades after the Cold War officially ended.

Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com

http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/7758/has-there-been-a-nuclear-incident-in-the-arctic

 

South China Sea: Buildings “Could House Missiles”

 

File Photo: Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in this still image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the United States Navy May 21, 2015. U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters/File Photo

By Idrees Ali | WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON China, in an early test of U.S. President Donald Trump, has nearly finished building almost two dozen structures on artificial islands in the South China Sea that appear designed to house long-range surface-to-air missiles, two U.S. officials told Reuters.

The development is likely to raise questions about whether and how the United States will respond, given its vows to take a tough line on China in the South China Sea.

China claims almost all the waters, which carry a third of the world’s maritime traffic. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims. Trump’s administration has called China’s island building in the South China Sea illegal.

Building the concrete structures with retractable roofs on Subi, Mischief and Fiery Cross reefs, part of the Spratly Islands chain where China already has built military-length airstrips, could be considered a military escalation, the U.S. officials said in recent days, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“It is not like the Chinese to build anything in the South China Sea just to build it, and these structures resemble others that house SAM batteries, so the logical conclusion is that’s what they are for,” said a U.S. intelligence official, referring to surface-to-air missiles.

Another official said the structures appeared to be 20 meters (66 feet) long and 10 meters (33 feet) high.

A Pentagon spokesman said the United States remained committed to “non-militarization in the South China Sea” and urged all claimants to take actions consistent with international law.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Wednesday he was aware of the report, though did not say if China was planning on placing missiles on the reefs.

“China carrying out normal construction activities on its own territory, including deploying necessary and appropriate territorial defense facilities, is a normal right under international law for sovereign nations,” he told reporters.

In his Senate confirmation hearing last month, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson raised China’s ire when he said Beijing should be denied access to the islands it is building in the South China Sea.

Tillerson subsequently softened his language, and Trump further reduced tensions by pledging to honor the long-standing U.S. “one China” policy in a Feb. 10 telephone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

LONGER RANGE

Greg Poling, a South China Sea expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said in a December report that China apparently had installed weapons, including anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, on all seven of the islands it has built in the South China Sea.

The officials said the new structures were likely to house surface-to-air missiles that would expand China’s air defense umbrella over the islands. They did not give a time line on when they believed China would deploy missiles on the islands.

“It certainly raises the tension,” Poling said. “The Chinese have gotten good at these steady increases in their capabilities.”

On Tuesday, the Philippines said Southeast Asian countries saw China’s installation of weapons in the South China Sea as “very unsettling” and have urged dialogue to stop an escalation of “recent developments.”

Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay did not say what provoked the concern but said the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations, or ASEAN, hoped China and the United States would ensure peace and stability.

POLITICAL TEST

The U.S. intelligence official said the structures did not pose a significant military threat to U.S. forces in the region, given their visibility and vulnerability.

Building them appeared to be more of a political test of how the Trump administration would respond, he said.

“The logical response would also be political – something that should not lead to military escalation in a vital strategic area,” the official said.

Chas Freeman, a China expert and former assistant secretary of defense, said he was inclined to view such installations as serving a military purpose – bolstering China’s claims against those of other nations – rather than a political signal to the United States.

“There is a tendency here in Washington to imagine that it’s all about us, but we are not a claimant in the South China Sea,” Freeman said. “We are not going to challenge China’s possession of any of these land features in my judgment. If that’s going to happen, it’s going to be done by the Vietnamese, or … the Filipinos … or the Malaysians, who are the three counter-claimants of note.”

He said it was an “unfortunate, but not (an) unpredictable development.”

Tillerson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month that China’s building of islands and putting military assets on them was “akin to Russia’s taking Crimea” from Ukraine.

In his written responses to follow-up questions, he softened his language, saying that in the event of an unspecified “contingency,” the United States and its allies “must be capable of limiting China’s access to and use of” those islands to pose a threat.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed Arshad, David Brunnstrom and John Walcott, and Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by John Walcott, Peter Cooney and Nick Macfie)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-usa-southchinasea-exclusive-idUSKBN161029