Religion & Culture
The top U.S. military official said Sunday that Iran has sufficient fissile material for a nuclear weapon, declaring it would be a “very, very bad outcome” should Tehran move forward with a bomb.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offered the assessment when questioned in a broadcast interview about a recent report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog on the state of Iran’s uranium enrichment program, which can create nuclear fuel and may be sufficiently advanced to produce the core of warheads.
Mullen was asked if Iran now had enough fissile material to make a bomb. He responded, “We think they do, quite frankly. And Iran having a nuclear weapon I’ve believed for a long time is a very, very bad outcome for the region and for the world.”
State Department spokesman Robert A. Wood said Sunday that it was not possible say how much fissile material Iran has accumulated.
The top U.S. uniformed military official says he’s comfortable with the president’s decision on a troop pullout timetable from Iraq.
And Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he thinks it is “fairly remote” that conditions in Iraq will change enough to alter significantly President Barack Obama’s plan to withdraw U.S. troops.
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday” and CNN’s “State of the Union,” Adm. Mike Mullen says he was able to offer his best military advice to President Barack Obama. The Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman is reluctant to talk about “winning and losing” in Iraq. But he says the conditions are in place for the Baghdad government to successfully take control of the country.
Mullen says Obama listened extensively to the American military leadership and U.S. commanders in Iraq before announcing last week that the combat mission would end on Aug. 31, 2010.
The U.S. is watching North Korea even more closely these days because of reports the North plans to test-fire a long-range missile.
The top U.S. military official says it’s an area of great concern. Adm. Mike Mullen says he would hope that North Korea would not be “provocative.”
The Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman notes that the North has launched missiles before. He says neither he nor Defense Secretary Robert Gates has made a recommendation about what to do if there is a launch. Mullen says any recommendations and policy decisions will come based on the timing and what the North does.
A U.S. helicopter on a humanitarian mission in the Philippines apparently was shot at, prompting the Navy to temporarily halt the mission, a defense official said Monday.
An MH-60 helicopter operating from USNS Mercy hospital ship had gone to pick up 11 passengers about 50 miles inland, and two bullet holes were found when the aircraft returned to the ship with the passengers.
“The holes appear to be an entry and exit point from a single bullet,” said Cmdr. Jeff A. Davis, a Navy spokesman.
It is unclear if the bullet struck while the passengers were on the helicopter, he said. There were no injuries and the aircraft’s commander was unaware of any bullet striking the aircraft during the flight, Davis said.
The Mercy is anchored in Cotabatu, conducting Pacific Partnership 08, a humanitarian civic assistance mission between nations — and with non-governmental organizations — to provide medical, dental, construction and other services ashore and afloat.
Diplomats from the five countries bordering the Arctic Ocean adopted a declaration on Wednesday aimed at defusing tensions over the likelihood that global warming will open northern waters to shipping, energy extraction and other activities.
The agreement, reached after a daylong meeting in Ilulissat, Greenland, said the United States, Canada, Russia, Norway and Denmark saw no need for new accords on Arctic matters and would use existing international laws like the Law of the Sea Treaty to resolve disputes. Greenland belongs to Denmark.
The countries also agreed to work more cooperatively to limit environmental risks attending more Arctic shipping and commerce and to coordinate potential rescue operations given the rising number of tourists heading north as sea ice increasingly retreats in the summer.
The meeting capped a frenetic year of Arctic activity as countries vied to demonstrate their polar hegemony with a mix of rhetoric, military maneuvers and, in the case of Russia, a submarine voyage to the seabed at the North Pole.
The French navy canceled three summer missions Monday because of soaring fuel prices _ including a counternarcotics exercise off the United States.
The ripple effects of spiraling fuel prices are also being felt in Spain, where truckers and fishermen are striking in protest.
“All of our missions are important, but we had to cut those that were least crucial,” said navy spokesman Pascal Subtil.
The most significant of the canceled missions involves a training exercise off the east coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. The French ship De Grasse was slated to sail alongside U.S. vessels in an exercise to train for preventing drug-trafficking.
A 50 percent rise in fuel costs kept many of Canada’s 34 naval vessels at port in 2007, the Sun Media group reported from Montreal Monday.
Under the Access to Information Act, the news group learned from defense documents the ships spent an average of 81 days at sea last year at a cost of more than $51 million. That’s a jump from $34.1 million in 2006, the report said.
A member of the Bloc Quebecois opposition party, Claude Bachand, told the agency the navy was facing another relatively dry year.
“The (fuel) bill will certainly rise by another 25 percent this year,” Bachand said. “Fuel consumption varies according to cruising speed and weather conditions, but in a visit on the frigate HMCS Winnipeg I was told it costs $25,000 in gas per day.”
Two Royal Navy destroyers have been sent to sea virtually defenceless against air attack after their guided missiles were removed to save money.
The Sea Dart missiles, which have a range of 40 miles, used to protect HMS Exeter and HMS Southampton against enemy planes and missiles.
Now 4.5inch guns give them their main protection. At least half a dozen sailors – who operated the surface-to-air missiles – have been transferred to other ships because their roles became defunct.
Nine Nigerian navy members were killed and four civilians injured Tuesday in a second attack in as many days on a security vessel in the volatile oil-rich south, a military spokesman said.
“Another supply vessel working for Addax Petroleum, the Seacor Macor, was attacked early this morning,” Lieutenant Colonel Musa Sagir told AFP, adding: “Nine navy personnel were killed and four civilians injured.”
He said the incident happened at Addax’s Anthan oilfield near the High Island rig.
A spokesman for Addax Petroleum Nigeria could not immediately confirm the attack.
Tuesday’s attack came a day after a member of the Nigerian navy was killed and four other Nigerian seamen injured when gunmen travelling in two speedboats attacked an Addax security vessel some 40 kilometres from the Nigerian coast.
Russian military officials say a huge international naval exercise was under way Monday in the Baltic Sea, involving 35 vessels from 13 countries.
Called Baltops 2008 (short for Baltic Operations 2008), the effort was launched after a pre-exercise meeting in the Polish port city of Gdynia, Itar-Tass reported, saying Russia is represented by the Kaliningrad and the Neustrashimy.
The first phase of the exercise includes anti-submarine ship support and the use of helicopters in tracking submarines, the news agency said.
In addition to Russia, other nations taking part in the naval exercises include the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.