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Thursday, 29 April 2004

U.S. confirms insurgents have SA-16 anti-aircraft missile

Thursday, April 29, 2004
BAGHDAD -- U.S. military commanders said Sunni insurgents in Iraq have obtained the SA-16 surface-to-air missile. The SA-16 is a modified version of the older SA-7 and represents a greater threat to U.S. and coalition aircraft.
The SA-16 anti-aircraft missile.
U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of military operation, said a U.S. military raid netted a range of Soviet-origin anti-aircraft missiles. He said they included the SA-16 and SA-14 missiles.
"The operation resulted in the capture of one enemy personnel, and also confiscated were an SA-16 missile, an SA-14 missile, two 82-millimeter systems, 31 rocket-propelled-grenade rounds, and a large quantity of small arms and ammunition," Kimmitt said.
The SA-16 has a range of five kilometers and is guided by a infrared and optical seekers, Middle East Newsline reported.
The SA-16 is a man-portable air defense system and was believed to have been fired against U.S. aircraft in Iraq. About 16 U.S. helicopters have been downed in Iraq since May 2003 by such weapons as surface-to-air missiles and rocket-propelled grenades.
The Iraqi version has a red front end missile seeker, the first such a coalition was seen on an infrared missile, the London-based Jane's Defence Weekly said. The modification was believed to have been conducted by Russia or another republic of the former Soviet Union.

Copyright ? 2004 East West Services, Inc.

South Korea: The weak link

See the Sol Sanders Archive


By Sol Sanders

April 29, 2004
Volatility is increasing on the Korean Peninsular whatever Vice President Cheney accomplished in his recent visit to the area. It requires more attention from the Bush Administration, mired down in defending its Iraq policies and amidst an increasingly bitter presidential election campaign.

Having chosen aligning North Korea's neighbors to halt a go-for-broke nuclear weapons race in East Asia, it now faces some uncomfortable realities. Not the least is the increasing alienation of South Korea from its U.S. alliance.

It has not been a sudden process. Despite close ties to the American media and the Clinton Administration, Washington views of former President Kim Dae Jung's "sunshine policy" had come a cropper long before he left office. Under the table payments to meet North Koreans, failed private and public sector economic schemes, Pyongyang's continued archetypical propaganda and infiltration provocations - all indicated how foolish were hopes the 50-year-old ultra-Stalinist regime could be "bought off". The failure of President Clinton's "framework" to end North Korea's weapons program [notwithstanding former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's dance party with Dictator Kim Jong-il] was the culmination.

The Bush Administration [with its famous denunciation of "the axis of evil"] turned its back on this policy. When it looked for alternatives, given the vulnerability of Seoul's third of South Korea's population under the barrels of North Korean artillery, and its preoccupation with Islamic terrorism, Bush chose to try to build an alliance by those threatened. It was argued, logically, a nuclear-clad North Korea was not only a threat to Japan [threatened by a missile overflight in 1998], Russia [tenuously holding on to its Siberian territories], to China [which had to see, logic held, it had built a Frankenstein on its doorstep], as well as American interests in East Asia for peace and stability.

Most of all, logic would hold, it was North Korea's former victim, the South, that had most to lose. But not only did South Korea's Kim hang on his bankrupt clich?s, but he promoted a successor who believed even more fervently in a compromise with the North. Erratic, amateurish, churlish [he made a totem of the fact he had never visited the U.S.], Kim's successor, President Kim Roh Moo-huyn has compounded his predecessor's foibles.

In one of history's bad sociological jokes, Roh and his Taliban advisers [as one of the Korean government professionals called them] have just won a massive electoral victory based on appeals to the new youth culture in South Korea. He pushes even harder for accommodation with the North whatever the price. But unlike his more na?ve young followers [unemployed often because they refuse to dirty their hands], there is a cynical but fallacious calculation. Roh shares the view of his Chinese interlocutors, namely the greater threat is the implosion of the economic and intellectually bankrupt North Korea. For China, it would mean greater difficulties in its northeast "rust belt". Already the amazingly entrepreneurial three million ethnic Koreans there [with some quarter of a million refugees from across the border] have become restless. Beijing recently replaced its People's Armed Police [increasingly the dumping ground for demobilized People's Liberation Army "surplus"] there. PLA military had to police a breakdown in the "security organs" which saw North Korean refugees bound into diplomatic cantonments from Shenyang to Chieng Mai and shoot-outs between Chinese police and North Korean military black marketeers.

That's why the horrendous railway disaster on the North Korean-Chinese border takes on new meaning. If it were, indeed, only a stupid accident as Pyongyang, Seoul, and Washington publicly are insisting, then it is another indication Pyongyang's lifeline is shredding. None of the several explanations indicate anything less than a virtual collapse of rail traffic management on the most important lifeline bringing in the 80 percent of North Korea's fuel and food from China. If, on the other hand as there is considerable circumstantial evidence, it was a failed attempt to blow Kim Jong-il right out of his caviar and French sweets into the anonymity of history's tyrants, it is more evidence how fragile the situation is on the peninsular: Chaos in one of the surviving Communist states with primitive nuclear weapons?

Some of Roh's advisers have said they fear a North Korean implosion more than they fear a nuclear-armed neighbor. Certainly, they are traumatized by the possibility of inheriting what they fear would be an economic black hole [like the former reunited East Germany ]. They had rather fantasize Kim is moving toward liberalization [by permitting the starving to swap vegetables in local markets] - or that "the China boom" which has made Beijing its No. 1 trading partner is going to rescue their still unreformed economy.

Whatever these pipe dreams, as the U.S. tries to put together an alliance of like-minded to pressure Pyongyang - with the threat of UN sanctions, an embargo, even eventual military action - it now has as a principle obstacle the South Korean leadership.

Sol W. Sanders, (, is an Asian specialist with more than 25 years in the region, and a former correspondent for Business Week, U.S. News & World Report and United Press International. He writes weekly for World


Nations to Hold Talks on N. Korean Nukes
Thu Apr 29, 4:16 AM ET

By SANG-HUN CHOE, Associated Press Writer

SEOUL, South Korea - The six nations negotiating the North Korean nuclear standoff will hold low-level meetings on May 12 in Beijing to lay the groundwork for the next round of talks, South Korea (news - web sites) and China said Thursday.
Slideshow: North Korea
The apparent breakthrough comes as the United States reportedly prepares to upgrade its estimate of North Korea (news - web sites)'s nuclear arsenal to at least eight atomic weapons, from its long-standing estimate of "possibly two."
The report, disputed by Seoul, is being prepared by U.S. intelligence officials to account for strides North Korea has made since last year, when it restarted its nuclear reactor and plutonium reprocessing facility in Yongbyon, the Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing unnamed officials involved in the estimate overhaul.
The officials have also concluded that a separate uranium-based nuclear program will be operational by 2007, producing enough material for as many as six additional weapons a year, the report said.
An upgrade would be seen as upping pressure on other participants in the six-nation negotiations to back Washington at the table. U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli called the report "speculative."
In Seoul, South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo-hyuck quoted U.S. authorities as saying that the Washington Post report was "groundless."
Lee said that an estimate of eight nuclear bombs is based on the assumption that the communist state has reprocessed all its 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods.
The rods, if chemically treated, can yield enough plutonium for several bombs. North Korea says it has reprocessed all and is already increasing its "nuclear deterrent." Speaking at a news conference, Lee said: "There is no scientific proof that the North has reprocessed all the 8,000 rods."
South Korea believes the rival North has enough nuclear material to build one or two nuclear bombs.
Lee said that the six nations involved in resolving the dispute -- the United States, China, the two Koreas, Russia and Japan -- are scheduled to begin working level talks May 12 in the Chinese capital.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry (news - web sites) spokesman Kong Quan said the "fundamental goal" of the so-called working-group meetings was to prepare for a third round of six-party talks to be held by the end of June.
Lee said South Korea, the United States and Japan would consider giving the North energy aid if it freezes all its nuclear facilities, including those for power generation, with the condition that it will eventually completely dismantle them.
"As we go into these talks, our principal position remains the same and unchanged, that North Korea should dismantle its nuclear facilities completely and that we cannot tolerate North Korea possessing nuclear weapons," Lee said.
The nuclear standoff began in October 2002, when U.S. officials said North Korea admitted having a secret nuclear program in violation of a 1994 pact.
North Korea says it will dismantle its nuclear weapons facilities only if the United States provides economic aid and makes a nonaggression pledge. The United States demands that North Korea first scrap all its nuclear facilities.

South Korean Ship Brings Aid to N. Korea
Wed Apr 28, 3:29 PM ET

By HANS GREIMEL, Associated Press Writer

SEOUL, South Korea - A South Korean ship brimming with instant noodles, blankets and bottled water sailed Wednesday for North Korea (news - web sites) as an international effort intensified to help thousands injured or left homeless in last week's deadly train explosion.
AP Photo
AP Photo
Slideshow: DeadlyTrain Explosion in N. Korea
Seoul also moved closer to approving a controversial North Korean plea for millions of dollars in additional aid, including 50 color television sets. The request came a day after impoverished North Korea rejected Seoul's offer to send doctors, saying it already had enough medical help.
North Korea, meanwhile, lauded the "heroic deaths" of four people killed after running into collapsing or burning buildings after the explosion to retrieve portraits of leader Kim Jong Il and his late father, national founder Kim Il Sung.
"The Korean people's spirit of guarding the leader with their very lives was fully displayed," the North's official KCNA news agency said, adding that teacher Han Jong Suk, 56, "breathed her last with portraits in her bosom."
The leaders are objects of a pervasive personality cult in the communist North, with father-and-son portraits hanging in every home and building.
North Korea likened Thursday's train blast in Ryongchon, a town of 130,000 near the Chinese border, to "100 bombs, each weighing one ton" going off at the same time.
The death toll stood at 161, with 370 victims still hospitalized. About 250 of the hospitalized victims were children.
KCNA also said the explosion left many victims "deaf and blind" and destroyed at least 8,100 homes and more than 30 public buildings.
Many suffered severe burns and eye injuries from the blast's shock wave of glass, rubble and heat, and about 20,000 rescuers were on the scene, it said.
North Korea estimated the damage in Ryongchon at $356 million, and KCNA warned Tuesday that "the damage is unexpectedly gaining in scope."
International aid agencies have put no price tag on reconstruction. The North's damage estimate far outweighs what donors have promised, fueling speculation that Pyongyang is trying to gain as much aid as possible.
The North's rejection of Seoul's offer to truck supplies overland, across the heavily fortified no man's land separating the rivals, riled some south of the border. The refusal meant supplies that could have been sent in the same day would now arrive by ship late Thursday at the earliest, a week after the disaster.
Pyongyang's insistence that it already had enough doctors also generated an incredulous response.
"Given the reality in the North, who would believe that?" the JoongAng Ilbo daily said Wednesday in an editorial. "North Korea needs to learn how to accept a genuine offer of help for what it is."
Hospitals lack basic supplies, like intravenous drips needed to treat burn patients. The World Health Organization (news - web sites) listed antibiotics, eye drops and burn kits as the greatest needs.
Norbert Vollertsen, a German doctor who worked in the North before communist authorities expelled him in late 2000, said doctors there use ordinary razor blades for surgery and empty beer bottles for intravenous drips.
"North Korea blocks trucks with South Korean aid at the inner Korean border while desperate children die," he said.
Pyongyang "does not care about human lives, burned children are kept as hostages to ask for foreign money," he said.
During a Tuesday meeting with South Korean officials, North Korea reportedly asked for 50,000 tons of cement, 10 bulldozers, 10 steam shovels, 500 tons of diesel oil, 500 tons of gasoline, 1,000 tons of steel beams, 1,500 sets of school desks and chairs, 50 blackboards, 10,000 tons of foods and 50 television sets.
South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday that Seoul was likely to provide the assistance, which could cost up to $29 million.
Thousands of people were living in tents without adequate sanitation or water, and a team of foreign aid workers visited Ryongchon on Wednesday to assess the situation.
Relief workers described people struggling to rebuild with their bare hands.
The United States, China, Australia, Japan and Singapore are among nations that have offered aid, and Germany said it would donate $119,000 to buy food and building materials. KCNA said Wednesday that a first installment of Russian relief aid valued at roughly $472,000 arrived -- including medicine, tents and blankets.

China's rising power shortages cause anxiety
By Richard McGregor in Shanghai and Alexandra Harney in Beijing
Published: April 28 2004 12:03 | Last Updated: April 28 2004 12:03
China's growing power shortages are causing rising anxiety among foreign investors and prompting criticism that city and local governments are not providing clear and timely information about shutdowns to factories.
Power is already being rationed in and around Shanghai and Guangzhou, the heartland of foreign investment in China, and shutdowns are expected to increase when demand rises over the summer.
City officials in Shanghai have had a number of meetings with multinational executives, but have yet to provide them with any schedule for when factories will lose power.
"They are yet to come out with a plan that will make most people happy," said Sydney Chang, a Shanghai-based executive who convened the meetings.
The government has decided to increase tariffs during the daytime peak periods to encourage a change in usage and may also close down all schools and universities over summer to further reduce power consumption.
But Peter Borger, an executive vice-president in Shanghai for Siemens, one of China's largest foreign investors, said he did not think that the city could make up a shortfall of about 4m megawatts of power, which is equal to about 20 per cent of total consumption in the area.
"In our [12] factories, we need a lot of advance notice of when it is happening," he said.
Power supply in the southern province of Guangdong, home to the Pearl River Delta manufacturing hub, is tightening as well, raising the cost of doing business there.
In the capital city of Guangzhou, authorities are forcing 4,000 local companies to shut off their electricity two days a week to prevent an overload of the power grid.
Another 100-odd companies are being asked to lower power consumption by 10-20 per cent, according to official media.
One Guangzhou factory manager said the government had been shutting off its power supply for two days a week since February as part of a programme of rolling blackouts.
In industries such as technology, where even a few hours delay can mean the loss of a customer, single-factory generators are already essential.
In the garment industry, managers are shifting production out of cities where the shortages are most severe into factories in areas with relatively reliable supply, putting pressure on new parts of the power grid.
Many factories around Shanghai in Jiangsu province have been installing generators as well, which in turn has resulted in shortages of diesel fuel
"One of my factories has a person whose sole job is to look for diesel fuel," said Diane Long, a vice-president for Liz Claiborne, the US apparel company, in Shanghai.
Shanghai will be bringing extra power on line gradually over the next few years, and has pledged to double generating capacity by 2010.
But executives say they expect shortages to continue until at least 2006, a problem that may slow further foreign investment into China.


Diesel Fouls Marsh Near San Francisco

Apr 29, 7:26 PM (ET)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A pipeline that pumps petroleum from refineries in the San Francisco Bay area ruptured, gushing diesel fuel into a marsh that serves as a key nesting ground for migratory birds and prompting an emergency cleanup effort Thursday.
The exact amount spilled into Suisun Marsh, about 25 miles northeast of San Francisco, won't be known until the pipe is fixed and refilled, officials said. A worst-case scenario put the damage at 1 million gallons, said Mark Merchant, a spokesman for the Environmental Protection Agency.
However, the spill may involve only a few hundred gallons, said Dana Michaels, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Fish and Game, and was limited to a diked area of roughly 600 acres, so that the fuel can't escape to the rest of the marsh.
About 50 workers from state and federal agencies were using containment booms and absorbent pads to clean up the spill, which left a sheen atop the water, said Jerry Englehardt, a spokesman for Kinder-Morgan Energy Partners, which owns the pipeline. He described the spill as "relatively small."
The pipeline, which carries fuel from San Francisco Bay area refineries to Reno, Nev., ruptured sometime Tuesday. Kinder-Morgan noticed a drop in pipeline pressure around 6 p.m. Tuesday night and shut down a section of the pipeline, Michaels said.
Environmental officials were told about it Wednesday, and the leak was expected to be repaired late Thursday.
The Suisun Marsh is considered the state's second-largest natural marsh, according to Greg Green, a biologist for Memphis, Tenn.-based Ducks Unlimited, a wetlands conservation group. But it's also a highly managed area, with large sections diked off to control the flow of water.
"It's an important area for biological purposes," Green said. The marsh covers 57,000 acres and is frequented by about 700,000 birds, including migratory shorebirds and raptors.

Posted by maximpost at 11:44 PM EDT

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