Archive for July, 2010

UK admits using Depleted Uranium ammunition in Iraq [Press TV]

Posted in Depleted Uranium weapons, Iraq, U.K. on July 31, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

What’s more despicable than invading a country (like Iraq) over a lie, as the US and UK did?  Massively contaminating the invaded country’s environment with weaponized nuclear waste. – 左手

July 23, 2010

UK defense secretary says American and British forces used depleted uranium (DU) ammunition during the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

“UK forces used about 1.9 metric tons of depleted uranium ammunition in the Iraq war in 2003,” UK Defense Secretary Liam Fox said in a written reply to the House of Commons on Thursday, the Kuwait News Agency reported.

The announcement came after a joint study by the environment, health and science ministries in Iraq said there were communities near the cities of Najaf, Basra and Fallujah with increased rates of cancer and birth defects over the past five years.

More than 40 sites across Iraq are contaminated with high levels of radiation and dioxins.

Fox said the Ministry of Defense provided the coordinates of targets attacked using DU ammunition to the UN Environmental Program.

“They also exchanged information with humanitarian and other organizations; and warned Iraqis through signs and leaflets that they should not go near or touch any debris they find on the former battlefield,” he claimed.

The use of depleted uranium ammunition is widely controversial because of potential long-term health effects.

It is reported that the US and Britain used up to 2,000 tons of these ammunition during the Iraq war.

The World Health Organization is now investigating the rising number of birth defects, which Iraqi doctors attribute to the use of chemical weapons and depleted uranium ammunition during the war.

Iraqi doctors say they have been struggling to cope with the rise in the number of cancer cases, especially in cities subjected to heavy US and British bombardment.

Iraq’s Ministry for Human Rights is expected to file a lawsuit against Britain and the US over their use of depleted uranium bombs in Iraq.

The ministry will seek compensation for the victims of these weapons.

Article link here

U.S. involvement will only complicate South China Sea issue [People’s Daily]

Posted in China, China-US relations, Hillary Clinton, South China Sea, US imperialism, USA on July 31, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手
 
 
The United States has played up the South China Sea issue again in the international arena.

At the ASEAN Regional Forum Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Hanoi last week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talked at length about U.S. “national interests” in the South China Sea.

Hintting there is what she called “coercion” in the region, Clinton called for consistence with customary international laws, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in particular.

It is ironic that the United States is asking others to abide by the UNCLOS while itself still shunning a UNCLOS full membership.

It is known to all that the U.S. Senate has not yet ratified the UNCLOS, as some U.S. politicians insist that the ratification would “diminish” U.S. “capacity for self-defense.”

While disputes remain between China and several countries around the South China Sea, they have already concluded the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in accordance with the UNCLOS.

Thanks to the DOC, the situation in the South China Sea remains peaceful, and no party has ever used “coercion” and posed any threat to regional peace or navigation security in the South China Sea.

Ignoring the advise of the Chinese delegation, Clinton, with a prepared script at hand, tried to make an issue of the South China Sea at the meeting, claiming she was objecting to the “use or threat of force” in this ocean area.

The question is: as the situation in the South China Sea is peaceful, what is the logic in Clinton’s “objection? ”

So her real intention is questionable.

History has repeatedly proven that the involvement of a superpower in disputed areas did, more often than not, complicate the situation and bring tragedy to parties concerned.

Superpowers often adopted the strategy of “divide and rule.”  They stired up tensions, disputes and even conflicts, then set foot in to pose as a “mediator” or a “judge” in a bid to maximize their own interests.

In the 19th century, the British empire adopted the tactics of “divide and rule” to fight powers in the European continent.

Nowadays, the United States is resorting to the same old trick when dealing with some disputes and conflicts in the international arena.

 
By claiming U.S. national interests in the South China Sea, Washington intends to expand its involvement in an ocean area tens of thousands of miles away from America.

Obviously, Washington’s strategy is to play the old trick again in the South China Sea, in its bid to maintain America’s “long-held sway” in the western Pacific Ocean.

For decades, the United States has regarded itself as a dominant power in the Pacific Ocean, and the Pentagon deems any change of the status quo as a severe challenge to it.

As South Korea’s Yonhap news agency put it, Washington is worried that China’s presence in the South China Sea could “undermine America’s long-held sway in Asia.”

As a matter of fact, it is U.S. officials, scholars and media who are exaggerating the “tensions” in the South China Sea, while most countries in the region are convinced that the situation there is peaceful.

As Beijing-based The Global Times points out, Washington is trying to incite the hostility of countries around the South China Sea toward China in a bid to seek its own interests.

Unfortunately, some countries around the South China Sea are embracing the U.S. strategy, thus voluntarily playing into the hands of Washington.

These countries may cherish illusions about the internationalization of the South China Sea issue and hope for outside involvement that would cater to their own interests.

But the fact is that things will most likely run counter to their wishes, and they will finally turn into a chess piece of a superpower.

Take Hillary Clinton’s trip to Hanoi for example.  While playing up the South China Sea issue, she immediately rapped a few ASEAN countries over the issues of “human rights” and “press freedoms.”

In short, Washington always puts its own interests above those of ASEAN countries and becomes lukewarm whenever it comes to the question of offering help to these countries.

Continue reading

Some 8.7 billion dollars in Iraqi funds unaccounted for: report [People’s Daily]

Posted in Iraq, US foreign occupation, US imperialism on July 31, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手
 
I’m so glad I’m off the hook as a US taxpayer for this kind of world-class malfeasance  –  a definite benefit of being an expat is paying no taxes to the U.S. government.  Although if any of the unaccounted funds wound up contributing to the Iraqi Resistance, I wouldn’t mind that one bit.  : )  – 左手 
 
July 28, 2010
The Pentagon is unable to properly account for 8.7 billion dollars out of 9.1 billion in Iraqi oil revenue entrusted to it between 2004 and 2007, it was reported on Tuesday.

Of that amount, the military failed to provide any records at all for 2.6 billion dollars in purported reconstruction expenditure, the Los Angeles Times said, quoting a newly released audit that underscores a pattern of poor record-keeping during the war.

The audit was conducted by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, which is responsible for monitoring U.S. spending in Iraq.

The rest of the money was not properly deposited in special accounts as required under Treasury Department rules, making it difficult to trace how it was spent, the newspaper said.

Though there is no apparent evidence of fraud, the improper accounting practices add to the pattern of mismanagement, reckless spending and, in some instances, corruption uncovered by the agency since 2004, when it was created to oversee the total of 53 billion dollars in U.S. taxpayer money appropriated by Congress for the reconstruction effort, the paper noted.

“The breakdown in controls left the funds vulnerable to inappropriate uses and undetected loss,” the paper quoted the audit as saying.

Special Inspector General Stuart Bowen, who heads the agency, said repeated investigations have shown that “weak oversight is directly correlated to increased numbers of cases of theft and abuse.”

The report comes as Iraqis are increasingly frustrated with their own government’s inability to provide basic services, or to explain how tens of billions of dollars worth of oil revenue has been spent since 2007, the paper said.

“The alleged U.S. mismanagement of Iraqi money is certain to revive grievances against the U.S. for failing to make a big dent in the country’s reconstruction needs despite massive expenditures, ” the paper said.

Iraqis are still angry about the failure to account for a separate 8.8 billion dollars in Iraqi oil revenue spent by the U.S. -led Coalition Provisional Authority in 2003 and 2004.

If more money is found to be missing, “Iraq will definitely try to get it back,” Ali Musawi, a media advisor to Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, said in remarks published by the paper.

Source:  Xinhua

Lee administration of ROK on the defensive against Russian investigation report on Cheonan sinking – Lee regime fabrications becoming more evident [The Hankyoreh / 한겨레]

Posted in Cheonan sinking, Russia, south Korea on July 31, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

In light of differing claims, the opposition has called for a full investigation

July 28, 2010

By Ha Uh-yeong

The Lee Myung-bak administration has given a full-scale refutation of the content of the Russian investigation team’s report summary, covered by the Hankyoreh on Tuesday.  This response was far removed from the Lee administration’s original attitude as it announced the Russian team’s participation, stating that the Russians would support Seoul’s position.  An examination of the Russian investigation team’s report and the Ministry of Defense’s refutation reveals a number of differences.  There may also be differing claims in South Korea and abroad [?].

Events Prior to the Explosion

The Russian investigation team said the CCTVs inside the Cheonan stopped taping on March 26 at 21:17:03 p.m.  In response, the Ministry of Defense said there were 11 cameras installed inside the Cheonan, and since their time was never adjusted after it was input [sic] during installation, there is a difference between the time displayed on the recorded video and the real time.

Experts pointed out, however, that it is unpersuasive that the time entered into six of the recovered CCTVs would have the same time error.  An official from one CCTV firm told the Hankyoreh during a telephone interview that CCTVs supplied to the military are high-performance equipment:  out of 1,000, maybe one or two would have time errors.  Moreover, the Cheonan’s CCTVs began operation in September of last year.  The official said that less than a year after installation, the cameras could be off by no more than a minute.

In response to the Russian investigation team’s claim that the crew informed coastal signal corpsman that there were injuries at 21:12:03, the Defense Ministry said a Cheonan crew member made the call personally.  Since the Russian report specifies a coastal signal corpsman, however, it is possible to conclude that this is something that requires reinvestigation.

Damage to the Cheonan’s Screws

The Russian report notes that the Cheonan touched the sea floor, damaging all the blades on the right screw and two of the blades on the left screw.  In response, the Defense Ministry repeated its existing position, that the all the ends of the blades of the starboard screw were bent inward due to the centrifugal force generated as the screw rotation suddenly stopped with the explosion.  A civilian committee member who conducted the simulation analysis has already said, however, that it is impossible to recreate the same situation.  This is because if one supposes that the Cheonan suddenly stopped, what would have appeared would be all the blades folding inside like a flower bud, not just the tips bending.

In response to the Russian investigation team’s finding that the damaged screws were shaved so that they were shiny, the Defense Ministry explained that the barnacles attached to the blade of the left screw remained mostly as they were.  It could be said, however, that this explanation has nothing to do with the discussion, as it was the bent right screw where the problem was concentrated.  Some domestic experts have also pointed out that netting, with soft but with strong tension, could get caught in and scratch up a screw even as it rotates.  This is a third theory that casts doubts about both the Russian and Defense Ministry’s explanations.

Cause of the Sinking

The Russian report mentioned the possibility that a floating mine sank the Cheonan.  In response, the Defense Ministry said that the mines were laid in the late 1970s to prevent a North Korean vessel from landing on Baengyeong Island, and that the lead wires had been cut and all the mines disabled.  A retired high-ranking admiral, however, has already testified that there are active mines deployed in the seas.  He said if the sheath of the leading wire is removed, it is possible for the mine to go off just from the voltage flowing through the Cheonan.
The emergence of diverse opinions on the cause of the sinking, including the torpedoes, running aground, mines and a complexity of causes, calls have also increased for a reinvestigation.  Lawmaker Hong Young-pyo, a member of the main opposition Democratic Party’s (DP) special parliamentary committee to find the truth behind the sinking, called on the ruling Grand National Party (GNP) to immediately agree to a parliamentary investigation.  Meanwhile, minor opposition Democratic Labor Party (DLP) spokesman Woo Wi-young said in a statement that the solution was a full-scale reinvestigation.

[All emphases mine – 左手]

Article link here

[Editorial] A thorough reinvestigation into the sinking of the Cheonan – Russian report ‘torpedoes’ S. Korean gov’t whitewash of incident [The Hankyoreh / 한겨레]

Posted in Cheonan sinking, Russia, south Korea on July 31, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

 July 27-28, 2010

The result of analysis by a group of Russian naval experts on the cause of the sinking of the Cheonan was sent to the countries involved.  The conclusion was a stark contrast to the results of the investigation by the Defense Ministry’s joint military-civilian investigation team, which stated the sinking was caused by a torpedo launched by a North Korean submarine.  This report is significant, as it comes from the only outside group allowed access to the investigation results from the South Korean government.

The Russian investigation team stated that crew members of the Cheonan made calls on their cell phones to report that fellow crew members were hurt at 21:12:03, much earlier than 21:21:58, the time of the explosion as announced by the joint investigation team.  The material also pointed out that the blades of the Cheonan’s screws were damaged by hitting bottom prior to the disaster.

Based on this, the Russian investigation team raised the possibility that the Cheonan entered shallow seas, that the propeller became caught in netting, and that as it left for deeper waters, it hit a mine that exploded.  It appears they are referring to a mine placed decades earlier by the South Korean military that they were unable to recover.

This result is almost the exact opposite of the findings of the joint investigation team.  In the event that the Russian investigation team is correct, the justification of the many measures taken against North Korea based on the premise of a North Korean attack would be completely shaken.  The fact that Russia and China have not acknowledged North Korean responsibility for the sinking of the Cheonan is not a simple issue of backing one’s own side, but because of this difference in understanding.

…The…thing that is clear is that the need for a complete reinvestigation of the cause of the sinking of the Cheonan has grown more pressing.

As for the method of the reinvestigation, it would be best to conduct a parliamentary investigation, mobilizing under it specialized institutions.  Since there is an opposition offer for a parliamentary investigation of the Cheonan, we hope the Lee Myung-bak administration and ruling Grand National Party (GNP) actively respond focused on the offer.

The Foreign Ministry has been ignoring even the existence of opinions differing from the result of the joint investigation team, saying Russia had not informed it of the results of their consideration.  However, the government has now received the results of the Russian investigation, via another country involved.  They must make public the entire contents of the Russian investigation and have them verified by experts in South Korea and abroad.

Since the sinking of the Cheonan, anachronistic division and conflict between two camps has been taking place on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia.  A thorough reinvestigation will be very helpful in bringing this futile phase of conflict to an end.

Article link here

“Complex combination of factors” responsible for Cheonan sinking, Russian investigation concludes – N. Korea attack is not a factor [The Hankyoreh / 한겨레]

Posted in Cheonan sinking, Russia, south Korea on July 31, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

The Russian investigation team has proposed that the primary problem was damage to the ship’s propeller prior to the explosion

July 27-28, 2010

The Russian team that investigated the cause of the Cheonan’s sinking concluded that a “complex combination of factors” were responsible.  The report on its investigation findings essentially states that the primary problem arose while the Cheonan was sailing through deep waters, and that the underwater explosion was a secondary factor resulting from a mine.

The Russian team agreed with the South Korean joint civilian-military investigation team’s conclusion that the sinking resulting from a non-contact underwater explosion. However, in light of the state of damage to propeller screws on the Cheonan, the Russian team surmised that they had likely come into contact with the ocean floor before the explosion took place.

“Prior to the sinking, the Cheonan came into contact with the ocean floor on the right side, and there is a very strong likelihood that the propeller wings were damaged as a net became entangled with the right propeller and shaft,” the team stated.

For this reason, the Russian team said that the Cheonan was “probably limited in its sailing speed and mobility due to a net tangled in the propeller.”

 As a reason for the screw becoming caught in a net, the Russian team gave the fact that the Cheonan was “sailing in shallow waters near the coast.”

In other words, the explosion occurred when the vessel’s lower part struck a mine antenna and set off its triggering device while trying to move into deeper waters.

“Indirect corroboration has been provided by the fact that there is a risk of mines in the area where damage to the vessel occurred, and that this has limited mooring and sailing locations on the West Sea coast of the Korean Peninsula,” the Russian team said.

Analysts are interpreting this as referring to the large-scale placement of depth charges by the South Korean government in the 1970s to prevent a North Korean landing on Baengnyeong Island.

Another possibility raised by the Russian investigation team was that the explosion occurred from of the South Korean military’s own torpedoes.

“There is a chance that the explosion occurred from one of the country’s own bombs as the Cheonan was sailing under conditions of malfunctioning navigation or limited mobility,” the team said.

While experts have raised a number of questions about the Russian team’s conclusions, such as the exclusion of a “North Korean-made torpedo propeller” as a cause of the explosion based on a naked-eye evaluation suggesting that it had been submerged for around six months, controversy is expected to flare up now that an investigation team sent by the Russian government has officially contradicted the “scientific and objective” investigation results announced by the South Korean team.  With this, calls are expected to grow louder for an objective and transparent state investigation into the cause of the Cheonan’s sinking.

Article link here

Russia’s Cheonan investigation finds that the ship’s sinking was caused by a S. Korean undersea mine, not N. Korean torpedo attack [The Hankyoreh / 한겨레]

Posted in Cheonan sinking, Russia, south Korea on July 31, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Russia’s Cheonan investigation findings contrast with S.Korea’s report

A report by the Russian investigation team concludes that the combat patrol corvette (PCC) Cheonan likely sunk due to an external explosion caused by a mine

July 27-28, 2010

A document shows that the Russian investigation team that came to Korea from May 31 to June 7 to conduct its own investigation into the sinking of the Cheonan concluded that the sinking resulted from an “indirect outside underwater explosion,” but that the blast was more likely from a mine than a torpedo.

In particular, the Russian team raised doubts about the time of the explosion reported by South Korea’s joint civilian-military investigation team, which announced that the blast to the Cheonan came from a North Korean torpedo attack at 9:21:58 p.m. on March 26.  The Russian team’s conclusion was based on factors such as the last time indicated on the Cheonan’s closed circuit television footage, which was 9:17:03 p.m. on the night in question.

On Monday, the Hankyoreh acquired a document titled “Data from the Russian Naval Expert Group’s Investigation into the Cause of the South Korean Naval Vessel Cheonan’s Sinking,” in which the Russian team stated, “The explosion time officially stated by South Korea [9:21:58 p.m.] does not coincide with the time of the last video footage taken on the day in question when the power current was cut off within the vessel [9:17:03 p.m.].”  This statement hints that an uncontrollable situation may have arisen at least four to five minutes before the time announced by the South Korean team.

The Russian team also said that a sailor on board the Cheonan made a cell phone call at 9:12:03 p.m. notifying a Naval signalman that crew members were injured.  “The record of this first communication does not accord with what was official stated by South Korea,” the team said.  This coincides with a July 8 Hankyoreh report stating that the Russian team had “detected the transmission of a distress signal at a time earlier than the time of the Cheonan explosion.”

 In response, the Ministry of National Defense explained that the CCTV time was some three minutes and 47 to 50 seconds off the actual time, but that it did not disclose this fact at the time because it might “give rise to unnecessary misunderstandings.”  The ministry also said, “Beyond what was already disclosed, there is no record at all of anything like a Cheonan crew member providing notification about injuries by cell phone.”

The Russian team also raised questions about the so-called “No. 1 torpedo” fragment presented by the South Korean team as “conclusive evidence” of North Korean responsibility for the sinking.  “While the torpedo fragment may have been made in North Korea, the characters written in ink do not conform to general standards” in terms of location and lettering, the Russian team said. T he Russian team went to say, “Based on a naked-eye analysis of the torpedo fragment presented, one could believe that the fragment had been underwater for six months or more.”  Previously, the South Korean team announced that a naked-eye analysis of the degree of corrosion indicated that the torpedo debris had been underwater for around one to two months.

Regarding damage to the Cheonan’s propeller screws, the Russian team wrote, “Since before the time of the disaster in question, all five of the right-side screw wings and two of the screw wings on the left had been damaged due to contact with the ocean floor.”  In short, the Russian team held that the screws became broken or bent due to contact with the ocean floor, which varies considerably from the official announcement by the South Korean team.

On its conclusions regarding the cause of the sinking, the Russian team wrote, “The claims that it was a non-contact external underwater explosion were borne out.”  At the same time,…the accident occurred when “the vessel’s propeller happened to get caught in a net as it was sailing through shallow waters near the coast, and as the vessel was trying to extricate itself to deep waters, its lower part struck a [mine] antenna and set off the triggering device.”

Article link here