US 'concerns' over Pakistan-China nuclear deal: Clinton
ASEAN wants capability to monitor nuclear weapons: diplomat
Hanoi (AFP) July 19, 2010 - ASEAN wants to develop the capability to detect atomic weapons so it can effectively implement a treaty aiming to keep the region free of nuclear arms, a diplomat said Monday. The diplomat said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is also striving to deal with potential nuclear disasters, as some members consider the use of nuclear energy for civilian purposes. "We would like to have the capacity to monitor the presence of nuclear weapons in our territories," including on warships transiting the region's waters, the diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The region does not currently have the right training or equipment to verify whether nuclear weapons are in its ports or passing through its waters, he added. The Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone treaty commits ASEAN states "not to develop, manufacture or otherwise acquire, possess or have control over atomic weapons". It also prohibits the storage or transit of nuclear weapons in ASEAN, which groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
The treaty prevents the testing of any nuclear device and dumping of radioactive waste in the region, including in members' territorial waters. "Even if you are a declared nuclear weapons free zone, if you don't have the capability to implement it, then there's no use," said the diplomat, a member of the commission that ensures compliance with the treaty. The commission met in Hanoi on Monday as part of the annual meetings of ASEAN foreign ministers. The diplomat said allegations aired by a Norwegian-based news group, the Democratic Voice of Burma, that Myanmar was trying to begin a nuclear weapons programme with the help of North Korea were not discussed at the Hanoi meeting.
by Staff Writers
Islamabad (AFP) July 19, 2010
The United States has conveyed its "concerns" to Islamabad over China's sale of two civilian nuclear reactors to Pakistan, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a press conference Monday.
Washington has already sought clarification from Beijing on the deal to build two new 650-megawatt reactors in Pakistan's Punjab province, saying it must be approved by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
"We believe that the NSG, which has recently met to examine the sale that you are referring to, has posed a series of questions that should be answered because as part of any kind of transaction involving nuclear power, there are concerns by international community, Pakistan knows that," said Clinton.
"We have conveyed them (concerns), other members of the NSG conveyed them and we look forward to answers of those questions posed," she told reporters in the Pakistani capital.
The deal was revealed in the British press in April and comes after China in 2004 entered the NSG, a group of nuclear energy states that forbids exports to nations lacking strict International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.
The United States in 2008 signed a landmark nuclear agreement with Pakistan's arch-rival India and some analysts believe that lay the ground for the deal with China.
Pakistan has pressed the United States for a nuclear deal similar to India's.
Clinton on Monday said "intensive discussion" had begun to explore a civil nuclear deal with Pakistan, but outlined issues to be addressed including rigorous controls over the export of nuclear information and material.
The father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, Abdul Qadeer Khan, confessed in 2004 to sending nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea, although he later retracted his remarks.
"Export controls, and the problem with Mr. AQ Khan raises a red flag for people around the world and not just in the USA, because we can trace the export of nuclear information and material from Pakistan through all kinds of channels to many different countries. That is an issue," Clinton told a town hall meeting in Islamabad.
Clinton also criticised Pakistan for standing in the way of a proposed international treaty to prohibit the further production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other explosive devices.
"I just want you to understand that we are fulfilling our commitment to pursue this... but it is not a one-way street," she said.
"There has to be an awareness that certain questions that people have in their minds... must be addressed," Clinton added.
Israel to deploy new anti-missile system in November
Jerusalem (AFP) July 19, 2010 - Israel will deploy in November its anti-missile system designed to combat threats from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, the defence ministry said on Monday.
"The Iron Dome interceptor, in conjunction with air force and anti-aircraft systems, successfully downed a large number of threats in fully operational mode," the ministry said in statement.
"The first two batteries will become operational in November 2010," it said adding that "the defence ministry will soon place orders for additional batteries."
The system is designed to intercept short-range rockets and artillery shells, of which Hamas and the Hezbollah have fired thousands at Israel in the past.
The system is expected to be first deployed along the border of Hamas-run Gaza from where a daily barrage of home-made rockets fired at the Jewish state prompted Israel to launch a devastating 22-day offensive on December 27, 2008.
It will then be deployed on Israel's border with Lebanon, where the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah fired some 4,000 rockets into northern Israel during a 2006 war. Israel believes Hezbollah now has an arsenal of some 40,000 rockets.
Defence Minister Ehud Barak praised the developers for the short timeframe in which they had managed to make the system operational.
"We will act to actively deploy the batteries in the field as soon as possible," he said in the statement.
In May, US President Barack Obama asked Congress to approve giving Israel 205 million dollars to develop the system, on top of the billions of dollars in aid it gives Israel each year.
The Iron Dome will join the Arrow long-range ballistic missile defence system in an ambitious multi-layered programme to protect Israeli cities from rockets and missiles fired from Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, Syria and Iran.
A third system specifically aimed at countering medium-range missiles is still in development.