February 23, 2013
Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering : 16th APG Annual Meeting will be convened in Shanghai, China during the week of 15 - 19 July 2013
The collaboration of Pakistan with china for strategic designs at Gawadar has an alarming message for the local and International community.
February 22, 2013
Islamabad, Feb 22, 2013, PTI
China has provided a loan of Rs 136 billion for two nuclear power plants that Pakistan expects to commission by 2016, the state-run media reported on Friday.
The power plants of 340MW each are being built with Chinese assistance at the Chashma nuclear complex in Punjab province .
The “construction of these power plants became possible after a long-standing agreement”, official sources were quoted as saying by APP news agency.
The total cost of the two plants is Rs 190 billion and they will be partially funded by a Chinese loan of Rs 136 billion, the sources said.
The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission has allocated Rs 34.6 billion – a “major chunk” of its budget – for the C3 and C4 nuclear power plants at Chashma.
Deadline for plant
The government has so far spent Rs 62.4 billion on the Chashma project, and with the additional spending of Rs 34.6 billion, authorities believe almost half of the work on the two new power plants will be completed by June 2013, the sources said.
The two plants are expected to be commissioned by 2016 and three other power plants that have already been commissioned are “performing well”, the sources said.
PAEC has plans to produce 8,800 MW of nuclear power by 2030.
According to an unnamed official in the Ministry of Science and Technology, the government is harmonising efforts in the energy sector by different ministries, departments and research centres by creating an “Energy Council” with heads of relevant organisations. The council will advise authorities on priority areas for research and development and on management of resources.
“Acquisition of technology for building nuclear power reactors through research and development, as well as transfer of technology agreements, is also in consideration,” the official said.
Thursday's blasts in Hyderabad cannot be categorised as mass fatality terrorism. The blasts were directed at soft targets in a crowded area. Details available so far do not indicate what could have been the motive or who might have been the perpetrators. The police, as well as the public, should refrain from speculation that could mislead and distort the investigation.
The improvised explosive devices did not have any unique signature. The explosive used does not appear to have been of a sophisticated kind. Fertiliser-based ammonium nitrate, which is easy to procure and which can be lethal when mixed with certain chemicals, is suspected to have been used. For many years now, terrorists in many countries have been using ammonium nitrate-based IEDs for acts of terrorism.
Expertise in fabrication of IEDS using ammonium nitrate as the core material is available in many web sites run by terror organisations. No special training is required in the matter. In western countries, counter-terrorism agencies have been able to reduce the use of ammonium nitrate by terrorists by imposing strict regulations on their storage and sale to persons who are not genuine farmers. We are yet to impose and enforce similar regulations in India. If it turns out that ammonium nitrate has been used once again for an act of terror, priority should be given to steps for imposing such regulations in India.
Our counter-terrorism agencies continue to face the threat of sporadic acts of terrorism carried out by individuals or groups wanting to give vent to their anger against the state or other communities. While our police and intelligence agencies are able to collect intelligence regarding sustained acts of terrorism by groups with known objectives, targets and modus operandi, they face difficulty in monitoring activities of individuals and groups indulging in sporadic acts of terrorism triggered by anger of the moment due to some reason or the other. While sustained domestic terrorism of the kind witnessed before 2008 is under control, sporadic attacks of the kind witnessed in Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad pose a problem for our intelligence and counter-terrorism agencies.
The state police have to play a more active role in preventing sporadic acts of terrorism and they have to be assisted by central agencies. The National Counter Terrorism Centre, which has remained a non-starter due to reservations from some states ruled by non-Congress parties, might have strengthened the joint capability of the Centre and states for preventing sporadic terrorism. The absence of a political consensus on the NCTC leaves a big gap in our counter-terrorism architecture.
We face three kinds of terrorism - state-sponsored terrorism emanating from Pakistan, domestic terrorism of a sustained nature and domestic terrorism of a sporadic kind. While the threat of state-sponsored terrorism from Pakistan continues, it has not repeated itself after the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai. Domestic terrorism of a sustained nature of the kind witnessed in 2007 and 2008, due to the activities of the Indian Mujahideen, has been disrupted by the action taken by our central agencies and the state police to identify and disrupt their sleeper cells. But terrorism of the sporadic kind continues as seen in Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad
P Chidambaram, who took over as home minister after the 26/11 terror strikes, managed to strengthen our capabilities against all three kinds of terrorism. His drive, though sometimes controversial as in case of NCTC, kept our agencies on their toes. The kind of vigorous leadership that he provided to counter-terrorism efforts, has been missing since Sushil Kumar Shinde took over from him last year. Counter-terrorism leadership is again in a state of decline as it was before 26/11.
Terrorists - whether the Pakistan State-sponsored or the domestic kind - are looking for weaknesses in our counter-terrorism architecture which they can exploit to step up their activities. Incidents like those of Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad and our inability to detect them and identify the perpetrators definitively, will enable them as well as Pakistan to take advantage of the weaknesses that seem to be re-emerging in our counter-terrorism capabilities.
Without effective and dynamic leadership, even the best of counter-terrorism machinery will fail to deliver. Such leadership and drive have been missing under Shinde's stewardship of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The Prime Minister, assisted by his National Security Adviser and the National Security Council Secretariat, which is part of the PMO, has to play a more active role for reversing this decline. Otherwise, we may be in for another nasty surprise as we faced on 26/11.
The writer is additional secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India
February 21, 2013
Eleven persons are reported to have been killed and over 20 injured in two well-timed explosions in the Dilsukhnagar area of Hyderabad around 7 PM on February 21,2013.
2. Initial reports indicated that one of the improvised explosive devices had been placed in a cycle or motor-bike and the other inside a tiffin box.These reports are yet to be confirmed. The two blasts appear to have been well-timed and not remote-controlled.
3.I do not so far see any sign of sophistication in the assembly of the IEDs and the synchronization of the blasts. There are no reports of any crater on the ground.Ifa powerful explosive material had been used, there would have been craters at the place where the IEDs had been placed.
4.The deaths and injuries seem to have been caused by the power of the blasts and not by the use of any projectiles such as nails, bicycle ball-bearings etc.When an IED is placed in a cycle or motor-bike, there would naturally be projectiles in the form of the splinters, but no other projectile has been discovered.
5.Reports of damages to nearby buildings also do not indicate the use of any powerful explosive material. The timer might have been of a conventional nature in the form of a mechanical ( with a clock attachment) or chemical device.
6.Two timed IEDs of this nature could have been easily assembled and planted by one or two terrorists. The involvement of a large team is unlikely.
7.The limited geographical area of the blasts also rules out the involvement of a large team of terrorists.The objective of the perpetrators was obviously to cause fatalities as an act of reprisal.
8.The indications till now are that the two blasts are the handiwork of locals who were in a position to assemble the devices quickly and use them.
9.Till more evidence is forthcoming, it would be advisable not to speculate on the motive and the possible identity of the perpetrators. (21-2-13)
February 19, 2013
February 18, 2013
Date: Sun, 17 Feb 2013 11:12:07 -0500
From: IntelForum Mailing List
Subject: [Intelforum] CIA's Historical Review Panel Public Statement
From: "Robert Jervis"
CIA¹s Historical Review Panel Public Statement
Professor Robert Jervis (Chair)
Department of Political Science
Professor Melvyn Leffler
Department of History
University of Virginia
Professor Thomas Newcomb
Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice
Professor Jeffrey Taliaferro
Department of Political Science
Professor Ruth Wedgwood
Nitze School of Advanced International Studies
Johns Hopkins University
The Director, Central Intelligence Agency's Historical Review Panel (HRP) was formed in 1995, replacing a panel that was less formally organized and that had met only episodically. Since then, the HRP has met twice a year, with the mandate to:
Advise the Central Intelligence Agency on systematic and automatic declassification review under the provisions of Executive Order 12958 as amended.
Assist in developing subjects of historical and scholarly interest for the Intelligence Community declassification review program.
Advise CIA and the Intelligence Community on declassification issues in which the protection of intelligence sources and methods potentially conflicts with mandated declassification priorities.
Provide guidance for the historical research and writing programs of the CIA History Staff, and when appropriate, review draft products.
Advise Information Management Services on its mandatory and voluntary declassification review initiatives and the Center for the Study of Intelligence on its academic outreach programs.
At the request of the Director of Central Intelligence Agency, advise on other matters of relevance to the intelligence and academic communities. Advise Information Management Services on archival and records management issues.
The HRP, like the other DCIA panels, is convened by the Director to provide him with confidential advice and assessments. Because the HRP's advice to the DCIA must be completely frank and candid, we are not reporting Panel recommendations. But because this panel's primary concern is the program of declassification and the release of information to the public, the DCIA and the Panel concluded that it should inform the interested public of the subjects and problems that the Panel is discussing.
The HRP met on December 12-13, 2012, with Robert Jervis, Melvyn Leffler, Thomas Newcomb, Jeffrey Taliaferro, and Ruth Wedgwood in attendance.
We discussed a range of topics, including the looming problem of reviewing the greatly increased volume of electronic records, the FOIA backlog, and the progress in putting material from the CREST system (the CIA Records Search Tool) on the web. We continued our discussion of the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series, including specific volumes at various stages of compiling and declassification and the general processes involved, which have been working more smoothly than was often true in the past. We also discussed the projects of the Historical Collections Division (HCD) and how these can be developed to meet the needs of multiple audiences. We returned to the need to get all agencies to devote attention to material from Presidential libraries. We also discussed options for reviewing Presidential Daily Briefs (PDBs).
We will meet again in June 2013.
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Weekly column by Fyodor Lukyanov
© RIA Novosti.
The October parliamentary elections resulted in a state with two centers of power. The president still has broad powers, including the right to dismiss the government and call early parliamentary elections. But under the Georgian Constitution, he cannot do so six months before or after elections, which leaves Saakashvili a window of opportunity of just several days in April.
If Saakashvili calls for early elections, conventional wisdom is that his party will lose seats in parliament. Since the president cannot keep the same government during the transition period, like in most countries, but must appoint a new cabinet, he may use this opportunity to try to sway public opinion in his favor.
To prevent this from happening, the prime minister plans to amend the Constitution. This explains the recent escalation in tensions. Opposition protests will be staged, but the target audience will be the West, where Saakashvili has many supporters, not Georgia. Claims that the prime minister and his coalition are abandoning the Euro-Atlantic path in favor of closer relations with Russia may prove a difficult argument to refute.
Still, the optimism inspired by the Georgian Dream party’s victory in the parliamentary elections of October 2012 has not vanished. People are still relieved that Saakashvili’s party was defeated.
The majority of Georgians did not support the bold and rather harsh experiment that Saakashvili and his team of young reformers launched in 2003 to alter the national consciousness. Some see Saakashvili’s attempt to demolish stereotypes as a positive step on the path to modernization. But, as history has shown repeatedly, you can’t make people happy against their will.
One of the reasons behind Saakashvili’s defeat is his team’s inability to build any kind of relationship with Russia. Some people voted for Ivanishvili and his Georgian Dream primarily because he promised to break the deadlock with Moscow.
Bilateral relations have indeed warmed since the prime minister’s election, though, to be fair, relations could not have gotten much worse. The new team’s efforts to strengthen its standing by dismantling the system Saakashvili created are a step toward improving relations with Russia, as the previous model was based on political and ideological opposition to Moscow.
The wait-and-see period has also ended in Moscow. The Kremlin and the Russian Foreign Ministry see that Ivanishvili is not a minion whom Saakashvili will replace when he does his bit.
Russia has made a number of telling gestures, such as a meeting between the Georgian prime minister’s special envoy and a state secretary of the Russian Foreign Ministry. Next the Russian and Georgian prime ministers shook hands in Davos, the Georgian Patriarch met with the Russian president in Moscow, and talks were launched to reopen the Russian market to Georgian wine and mineral water.
These steps have sparked civil and academic initiatives, including meetings between journalists and experts. Last week, experts from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations presented a report on ways out of the political stalemate in Tbilisi to a packed audience hall. Of course, the report was criticized and some Georgians even protested outside. But everyone agreed that it was Moscow’s first attempt to offer a positive agenda in a long time.
Georgia is hungry for friendly gestures from Moscow. The history of bilateral relations since the collapse of the Soviet Union has been an endless chain of conflicts, with both sides’ missteps fuelling tension.
Normalizing relations with Georgia is simple for Russia, which only has to ease entry and import restrictions and to show that it is open to cooperation. But the next stage will be much more difficult. Russia must seize this opportunity, but also show restraint so as not to scare Georgia off.
Russia, the largest and most powerful former Soviet republic, often forgets that a careless word can provoke an outcry lasting for weeks and even months. The possibility of Georgia returning to the CIS, recently broached by Russia, led to public protests and was used as a weapon against the Georgian government. There are red lines in Georgian politics that cannot be crossed, no matter how green the grass on the other side. Recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent nations is one such red line. Another is Georgia’s “European choice.”
No progress can be expected on Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the foreseeable future. Conflicts that involve questions of sovereignty tend to be the most intractable. Russia will not withdraw its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia either, as this would do irreparable harm to Russia’s prestige and disrupt the situation in the North Caucasus.
Georgia’s “European choice,” though mostly symbolic, is very important to the country. Although Georgia identifies itself as a European country, most sensible people in Tbilisi understand that it has no prospect of joining NATO or the EU. But Georgia would be lost without its dream of European integration. It has no trust in Russia or enthusiasm for its ideas. And unfortunately, Russia has nothing comparable to the European idea to offer, at least while it’s busy searching for its own new identity.
Georgia clearly overestimates its importance to Russia. Many politicians and ordinary people in Russia wonder why they should try to restore relations with Georgia at all. NATO is no longer a problem, the new Georgian government is unlikely to continue the hostile North Caucasus policy of its predecessor, and Tbilisi no longer controls its former autonomous regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. For these reasons and more, a close Russian-Georgian alliance is not a possibility. There are no interests important enough to justify the enormous effort it would take to forge such an alliance.
This may be true if we look at the world from a purely mercantile standpoint. But no matter what happens in their relations, Georgia and Russia will always share a common culture and history. Such assets are not to be discarded in this globalized world, where superficial unity masks a deepening abyss of alienation. History does not stop with any leader’s departure, and no one has a clear sense of what the future holds.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.
Is Russia unpredictable? Perhaps, but one shouldn’t exaggerate – its randomness often follows a consistent pattern. But is the world at large predictable? The past two decades have seen all forecasts refuted more than once and have taught us only one thing – to be ready for any change. This column is on what the nations and governments are facing in the era of global uncertainty.
*Fyodor Lukyanov is Editor-in-Chief of the Russia in Global Affairs journal – the most authoritative source of expertise on Russian foreign policy and global developments. He is also a frequent commentator on international affairs and contributes to various media in the United States, Europe and China, including academic journals Social Research, Europe-Asia Studies, Columbia Journal of International Affairs. Mr. Lukyanov is a senior member of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy and a member of the Presidential Council on Human Rights and Civic Society Institutions. He holds a degree from Moscow State University.
America’s pivot to Asia is forcing many states in the region to try and strike a balance between their strategic relationship with Washington and their growing economic ties with China. Today, John Bruni looks at Australia’s and New Zealand’s attempts to reconcile these two imperatives.
By John Bruni for the ISN
Now that he is US Secretary of State, will John Kerry nudge Washington to adopt a new diplomatic approach towards Latin America? Robert Valencia explores this question and the current status of the United States' bilateral relations with a region it once dominated.
By Robert Valencia for World Policy Institute
While the global press largely focused on Iran, China, and the Middle East during the lead-up to the appointment of John Kerry as the new secretary of state, Kerry's comments revealed the possibility of a revamped American diplomatic approach to Latin America. With Latin America in a transitional moment, stronger U.S engagement is critical. To reenergize the effort, Kerry will need a new, knowledgeable team in Washington as well as diplomats on the ground. Most importantly, the role of the U.S. assistant secretary must be given enough power that the person can be recognized and respected among Latin America’s diplomatic entourage.
Kerry will embark on, what is sure to be, a rugged road toward re-establishing friendlier relations with Latin America. He has already experienced a bit of an introduction to this struggle in the form of harsh criticism in Caracas after commenting that the situation in Venezuela was uncertain due to Hugo Chavez’s illness. A stated commitment toward Latin America will be refreshing to a waning U.S. presence in the region, but in order to accomplish anything there, Washington needs fresh faces associated with this region.
In the last three decades, many of the ambassadors have been mired in turbulent relationships. One clear example was Myles Frechette, the U.S. ambassador to Colombia in the mid-1990s, who strongly criticized then-Colombian President Ernesto Samper’s connections with the Cali Cartel, which financed his 1994 presidential campaign. Frechette’s position against Samper, as well as his disavowing of Colombia’s fight against narco-trafficking, earned him numerous rebukes from then-Interior Minister Horacio Serpa who called him a “gringo maluco (disagreeable)." WikiLeaks cables, for better or worse, revealed the adversity several U.S. ambassadors have faced in dealing with Latin American affairs. For instance, in 2011 U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Carlos Pascual, questioned the Mexican Army’s effectiveness in tackling drug cartels. Mexican President Felipe Calderon expressed his discomfort regarding these comments, which led to Pascual’s resignation in order to assuage U.S. Mexican relations.
In the last two years, hemispheric affairs have deteriorated because of a lack of an active, knowledgeable diplomatic corps. For example, Arturo Valenzuela, then U.S. assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs, who resigned on July 15, 2011, was criticized in several countries—most notably in Argentina when the late Argentinean President Nestor Kirchner rebuked Valenzuela for criticizing Argentina’s judicial powers.
It took several months to fill Valenzuela’s position. The Obama administration appointed Roberta S. Jacobson as the new assistant secretary state for western hemisphere affairs on March 30, 2012 for her expertise in budget matters and her role in laying out the Free Trade Agreements with Mexico and Canada. However, her role in recent developments in the region has been questioned. Several pundits criticized Jacobson’s lack contact with Venezuela’s Vice President Nicolás Maduro during Chávez’s prolonged absence in power.
Another example of the dismissal of key Latin American experts in Washington came in August 2012, when President Barack Obama relieved Dan Restrepo, senior director for the western hemisphere on the National Security Council, after a string of problems during last year’s Summit of Americas, including the Secret Service scandal and the verbal attacks by heads of state against Washington. Ricardo Zúniga, an expert in Cuban affairs, took Restrepo’s place and will have the responsibility of advising the White House on Latin American policy. His expertise on Cuba’s human rights and work with Havana activists may bring further changes to U.S. Cuba affairs. The Obama administration has already lifted restrictions on Cuban-Americans to travel and send money to the island.
The replacement of Restrepo with Zúniga could be helpful in another one of Kerry’s plans. While Kerry is known for supporting the Cuban embargo, his overall position regarding the country is more relaxed. He has criticized U.S. pro-democracy programs like Radio/TV Martí for perpetuating an “anachronistic Cold War standoff” between the U.S. and the island, and supported the 2009 Freedom to Travel Back to Cuba Act, a bill that would have allowed citizens to travel without restrictions. This suggests that Kerry could reverse U.S. attempts to isolate Cuba from the Organization of American States—a goal that may be accomplished now that he has an expert in Cuban affairs as senior director for the western hemisphere. Another U.S.-backed scenario where Cuba has been ostracized was the Free Trade of the Americas (FTAA), a failed initiative that sought to eliminate or reduce trade barriers across all countries in the Americas but Cuba. The U.S. opposition to integrate Cuba into the FTAA led to the creation of the left-leaning Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), led by Venezuela.
Any attempt to reach out to Cuba would likely strengthen U.S. relations with Latin America, as Washington’s unrelenting stance toward Cuba led Latin American countries to refuse to sign a final declaration at Cartagena’s Summit of the Americas. Some experts believe Kerry’s friendlier position over Cuba will also be reinforced by a possible nomination of Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, since he favors lifting the U.S. embargo entirely. However, U.S. nonprofit organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, find Cuba’s regime at odds with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States’ (CELAC, in Spanish) stated aims—the promotion of democracy and freedom of press, just to name a few.
Of course, even with a renewed focus on Latin America, other pressing issues await him as well. The rise of al-Qaida in North Africa, Middle East instability, China’s mounting influence, nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran, and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in 2014, are all likely to push Latin America to the back seat during Obama’s second term. This makes it even more imperative that Kerry’s approach is accompanied with the White House’s recruiting of a strong team that has in-depth expertise. It cannot be the same old faces or merely wealthy donors to Obama's re-election campaign. A strong, well-liked assistant secretary could effectively address bilateral issues in the region—relations that have been static for much too long.
Robert Valencia is a Research Fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs and is a contributing writer for Global Voices.