10 December 2016

News Report: Pentagon Claims China Preparing Anti-Satellite Missile Test

Beijing is gearing up to test fire a powerful new asymmetric-warfare weapon, a missile designed to destroy satellites in space.

Pentagon officials detected preparations for testing the Dong Neng-3 anti-satellite missile at a military facility in Central China, according to the Free Beacon. Beijing announcing the closure of airspace along the DN-3’s presumed flight path on December 7, and December 8 clued in US intelligence agencies to their plans. 

According to Asia Affair writer Henri Kenhman, test firing may occur at the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Jiuquan satellite launch site in inner Mongolia, along with the Korla launch site in Western China’s Xinjiang region. Beijing’s last anti-satellite missile test took place at the Korla complex, in October 2015.

News Report: Indian Defense Minister Keeps Eye on Pakistan's Nuclear Expansion

What is making India anxious is that in a decade Pakistan may have the world’s third largest stockpile of nuclear warheads.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — New Delhi is keeping a close eye on Pakistan's nuclear expansion and is taking all steps to safeguard its national interests, India's Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar informed Parliament on Friday.

"The government is aware of reports on the expansion of Pakistan's capability for fissile material production for nuclear weapons. The government continues to monitor development in this regard and is committed to taking all necessary steps to safeguard national security and respond to any threat suitably and adequately," Parrikar informed the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Indian Parliament. 

Compared to India's stockpile of 100-120 nuclear warheads, Pakistan possesses 110-130, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. However, Pakistan may have the capability to produce 20 nuclear warheads annually, says a research publication by two American experts — Tom Dalton and Michael Krepon. 

In their research paper 'A Normal Nuclear Pakistan', the duo argue that Pakistan could have the third-biggest nuclear stockpile within a decade producing 20 nuclear warheads annually taking its total arsenal to 350 weapons, as reported by Indo-Asian News Service. The report also says that Pakistan operates four plutonium production reactors, while India operates one with the capability of producing about five warheads annually.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: India, China in Indian Ocean Tug of War?

Indian Navy Aircraft Carrier, INS Vikramaditya
The Indian Ocean is no longer an idyllic commons as both India and China are stepping up naval activity. For India, three regional hotspots are of concern because of increasing Chinese naval interest.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — India trying to aggressively safeguard its interests in the wake of a spurt in Chinese naval activity in the eastern Indian Ocean which it considers as its backyard.

According to a top official in the Ministry of External Affairs, India-Sri Lanka relations were crucial for India to make its presence strongly felt in the Indian Ocean. India was initially optimistic of Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena's support but the recent signals from Colombo have dampened its optimism in this respect. 

Sri Lanka's inclination towards China despite Srisena's initial announcements of scrapping some major deals with Beijing is a major concern for India. 

News Report: S Korean Defense Minister Orders to Boost Combat Readiness

South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-goo ordered on Friday to strengthen the combat readiness of all branches of armed forces on Friday in relation to a vote to impeach President Park Geun-hye.

TOKYO (Sputnik) – According to the Yonhap news agency, Han will also conduct negotiations via video linkup with all military headquarters.

Earlier in the day, the South Korean parliament voted 234-56 to impeach Park.

Political scandal around the president broke out in late October when media reported that Park allowed Choi Soon-sil, her friend and "shadow adviser," who held no official post, to edit her speeches thus letting her influence the country's policy. Moreover, Choi was suspected of pressuring South Korean big corporations and extorting money from them for her non-commercial funds.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: Strained US-Philippine Ties Show Signs of Improvement

Ralph Jennings

TAIPEI, TAIWAN — Relations between the United States and one of its oldest allies, the Philippines, show signs of returning to normal after a crisis in September when the president in Manila demanded Washington withdraw military support and talked of a deeper break in ties with the superpower.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump congratulated Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in a call this month on his deadly campaign to squelch the drug trade, according to the Philippine side. The government of U.S. President Barack Obama had angered Duterte, who took office in June, by criticizing the effort because of suspected extrajudicial killings.

Trump also invited Duterte to visit the White House, part of a chain of overtures to traditional U.S. allies in Asia, including Japan.

“What Trump is doing is trying to (take back) the ground that the U.S. has lost in the last phase of the Obama presidency and strengthen partnerships and alliances that the U.S. already has in the region,” said Fabrizio Bozzato, an associate researcher specialized in international affairs at Tamkang University in Taiwan.

News Report: Taiwan Preps for Closer US Cooperation After Trump Phone Call

Ralph Jennings

TAIPEI — China and the United States are sniping at each other over President-elect Donald Trump’s phone call last week with the president of Taiwan, but the exchange of hard words between them has largely missed Taiwan itself, and the island may ultimately gain from long-term closer contact with Washington.

That afterglow from the December 2 phone call between Trump and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen could ease Taiwan’s diplomatic isolation, bolster trade ties and give it a new edge in military defense against Beijing – its most likely foe in any conflict.

“I think from the outset (the call with Trump) is good for Taiwan,” said Shane Lee, political scientist at Chang Jung Christian University in Taiwan. “Tsai Ing-wen will have better access to the White House or to the administration in general. In what way, it’s hard to say. When Trump steps into the White House, he will have to talk with his advisers.”

News Story: US Official - North Korea's Nuclear Capabilities Growing

Carla Babb

PENTAGON — North Korea now has the capability to launch a nuclear weapon, but it may not be able to hit its intended target, according to a senior U.S. military official.

The Pentagon believes Pyongyang can mount a warhead on a missile, but North Korea has not developed the capabilities needed for the warhead to re-enter Earth's atmosphere and strike a specific area, the official told reporters Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“It is the threat that keeps me awake at night,” the senior military official said. “And that's why they continue to test their systems out there.”

News Report: US Space Command Chief - China Eyeing Space War Dominance

Li Bao

A top U.S. military official says the U.S. is actively pursuing abilities to deter Russia and China from waging a conflict in space.

Speaking at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies in Arlington on Friday, General Jay Raymond, Commander of U.S. Air Force Space Command, said some of China's military modernization is aimed at weakening the U.S. advantage in space and other domains.

"China's military modernization has the potential to reduce core U.S. military technological advantage," he said, citing an annual report to Congress by Defense Secretary Ash Carter. "Moreover, China is investing in capabilities designed to defeat adversary power projection and counter intervention during a crisis or conflict."

U.S. efforts to strengthen space deterrence include working with allies, Raymond added.

"Our coalition partnerships have evolved from just information sharing to joint war fighting," he said. "They provide an incredible deterrence value. We must leverage the growing space capabilities of our allies."

Air Force representatives from Japan and Brazil at the event told VOA that their countries are actively seeking to work with the U.S. in space cooperation in the face of growing threats in that domain.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Mandarin Service.

This story first appeared on Voice of America & is reposted here with permission.

News Story: Former Indian Air Force Chief Arrested in AgustaWestland Copter Deal

AgustaWestland EH101/AW-101 Merlin
By: Vivek Raghuvanshi

NEW DELHI — A former Indian Air Force chief, Air Chief Marshal Shashindra Pal Tyagi, was arrested on Friday by the Central Bureau of Investigation for alleged corruption in the purchase of 12 AW 101 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Italy's Leonardo-Finmeccanica.

Along with Tyagi, Delhi based lawyer Gautam Khaitan and his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi also were arrested, "on the allegations accepting illegal gratification for exercising influence through corrupt and/or illegal means," according to the government.

In January 2014, MoD officials canceled the €546 million helicopter contract inked in 2010 with the Anglo-Italian company on charges of corruption, referring the case to the CBI.

India's Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar, during a debate in Parliament in April this year, said the request for proposals for the deal had been diverted to favor AgustaWestland.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: China, U.S. should manage differences in constructive manner, says FM

BEIJING, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- China on Friday responded to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's recent remarks by calling on the United States to jointly manage differences in a constructive manner and boost win-win cooperation with China.

Trump was quoted by media on Thursday as saying the United States needs to improve its relationship with China. He also criticized China's policies on trade and the economy as well as on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said countries, including China, are watching Trump as he prepares to assume office in January.

As the world's two largest economies and key members of the World Trade Organization, China and the United States can solve their trade disputes within the WTO framework, he said.

Read the full story at Xinhua