We must act now to prevent another Hiroshima – or worse

JNN 25 Dec 2010 : American leaders not only have abandoned existing treaty restraints but also have asserted plans to test and develop new weapons, including Anti-Ballistic missiles, the earth-penetrating ‘bunker buster’ and perhaps some new ‘small’ bombs.

Current US nuclear weapons policy is immoral, illegal, unnecessary and dreadfully dangerous, which create unacceptable risks to other nations of the world.

The recent 65th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki prompts only the most somber reflection and most fervent hope that the same crime may never be repeated. In the subsequent 65 years, those bombings have haunted the world’s imagination but not so much as to curb the development and spread of infinitely more lethal weapons of mass destruction.

A related concern, discussed in technical literature well before 11 September 2001, is that nuclear weapons may sooner or later fall into the hands of the so-called terrorist groups. US military expenditures approximate those of the rest of the world combined, while arms sales by 38 North American companies account for more than 60 per cent of the world total which has risen 25 per cent since 2002.

There have been efforts to strengthen the thin thread on which survival hangs. The most important is the nuclear NPT, which came into force in 1970. The regular Seven-year review conference of the NPT took place at the United Nations.

The NPT has been facing collapse, primarily because of the failure of the nuclear states to live up to their obligation under Article VI to pursue “good faith” efforts to eliminate all nuclear weapons. The United States has led the way in refusal to abide by the Article VI obligations. Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency emphasizes that “reluctance by one party to fulfill its obligations breeds reluctance in others”.

Former President Jimmy Carter blasted the United States as “the major culprit in the erosion of the NPT. While claiming to be protecting the world from proliferation threats, American leaders not only have abandoned existing treaty restraints but also have asserted plans to test and develop new weapons, including Anti-Ballistic missiles, and perhaps some new ‘small’ atomic bombs. They also have abandoned past pledges and now threaten first use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states”. Current US nuclear weapons policy is immoral, illegal, unnecessary and dreadfully dangerous, which create unacceptable risks to other nations of the world.

The Washington leadership put aside non-proliferation programs and devoted its energies and resources to driving the country to war by extraordinary deceit, then tried to manage the catastrophe it created in Iraq.

Peter Bergen, a US terrorism specialist, says in The Boston Globe that “the President is right that Iraq is a main front in the war on terrorism, but this is a front American leaders created”.

It is a critical era, in the United States, because of Washington’s primary role in accelerating the race to destruction by extending its historically unique military dominance, and in the UK too, which goes along with the US as its sincere loyalist ally. (By Noam Chomsky, a professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a US critic)

Activists to launch anti-Israeli ads in US

JNN 25 Dec 2010 : A group of US peace activists have planned to launch a campaign to condemn the Zionist regime crimes against Palestinians and to protest Washington’s support for Tel Aviv.

According to AFP, the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign decided to plaster anti-Israel ads on the sides of 12 local commuter buses starting Monday, on the third anniversary of the start of Israel’s war against the Gaza Strip.

“Israeli war crimes: your tax dollars at work,” has been written on the buses with pictures of Palestinian children standing around a demolished building.

The Zionist regime offensive against the coastal enclave, which began in December 2008, killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, mostly women and children.

Seattle activist Ed Mast said he was protesting a 2007 promise by the United States to give 30 billion dollars in military aid to Israel over the next decade.

Jundallah Chief Rigi nabbed in Pakistan

JNN 25 Dec 2o1o : ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has arrested Abdul Rauf Rigi, the new chief of outlawed terrorist group Jundallah, said an Iranian news agency.

According to the agency, Pakistani officials confirmed that Jundallah’s new chief has been arrested.

It should be mentioned here Rigi took charge of the terrorist outfit after his elder brother Abdul Malik was hanged in Iran. He was arrested by Iranian intelligence forces in February 2010 and executed in June for 79 counts of crime, including armed robbery, bombing operations and armed attacks on police and civilians.

On December 20, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on his counterpart Asif Ali Zardari to arrest “known” terrorists and extradite them to Iran.

Zardari assured the Iranian president that Pakistan would not withhold any help in uprooting terrorism.

The news agency did not disclose the location of Rigi’s arrest.

Ecuador recognizes Palestinian Country

JNN 25 Dec 2010 : The Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry has announced that this country’s government recognizes Palestine as a free and independent country.

According to AFP, the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry issued a statement, announcing that the Ecuadorian President, Rafael Correa, on Friday officially signed the document which recognizes Palestine as an independent and free country based on the year 1967 borders.

This statement partly reads that Ecuador has made this decision to support the legal demand of the Palestinian nation for having an independent and free country, and this will play a fundamental and decisive role in the reconciliatory co-existence of Middle East’s regional countries through holding negotiations.

Previously, Brazil, Argentina, and Bolivia had recognized Palestine as an independent and free country based on the year 1967 borders.

Meanwhile, Uruguay has also announced that it will adopt a similar decision in early 2011.

Iran, Best model of Interaction among Religions

JNN 25 Dec 2010 : Prelate of the Diocese of Lebanon Archbishop Aram Keshishian referred to the Islamic Iran on Friday as the best model of interaction among different religions in the world.

According to IRNA, he made the remarks during a meeting with a group of managers and editors-in-chief of Iran’s major newspapers and news agencies who arrived in Beirut on Thursday on a week-long visit.

Archbishop Keshishian said that followers of all divine religions, including Armenians, were living freely in Iran.

Praising the way that Iran’s leadership and its government were treating Armenians in that country; the Archbishop said that Iranian Armenians even had two representatives in the country’s Parliament (Majlis).

Condemning any type of sacrilege against values of divine religions, Archbishop Keshishian called on leaders of different religions to make more interactions to prevent any violation against religious values in the future.

He also referred to the recent visit of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran to Lebanon noting that Tehran-Beirut ties were on the rise.

Bin Laden possibly dead; US silent

JNN 25 Dec 2010 : A former White House spokesman has lashed out at the US government for using ‘Osama bin Laden’ as a pretext to continue its occupation of Afghanistan.

Suggesting bin Laden may be dead, ex-spokesman Robert Weiner and James Lewis, a US national security analyst at Robert Weiner Associates wrote “Since 2004, we have seen no new bin Laden videos.”

The article published in The Washington Times last Thursday read

“We’ve only heard audios. One video released in 2007 could be a compilation of older videos. So why does the intelligence community continue to support the impression that he’s alive?”

The article read “Last week, al-Qaeda issued its annual Christmas threat to the United States, promising suicide bombings during the holidays. Here’s a better idea for a Christmas present from al-Qaeda: a video showing Osama bin Laden – or his grave.”

The two analysts in their article said “Is bin Laden dead or alive? Nobody seems to know for sure, or, if anybody does, he isn’t saying. The White House’s Afghanistan-Pakistan review this month didn’t even mention him despite an ongoing, decade-long manhunt.”

They also underlined that bin Laden is unlikely to be still alive due to his ill health.

Female Suicide Bomber Kill More than 80 in Bajaur, Pakistan

JNN 25 Dec 2010 : More than 80 were killed in a suicide bombing on a World Food Programme project and a series of helicopter raids against militant camps in northwestern Pakistan on Saturday, officials said.

A suicide bomber wearing a burqa, who some officials said was a woman, killed at least 43 people at a World Food Programme distribution point in a tribal area bordering Afghanistan.

The blast occurred in Khar, the main town of lawless Bajaur tribal district, once a stronghold of Taliban militants who have carried out several bombings and suicide attacks in the area.

Most of the victims belonged to the local Salarzai tribe which supported military action against the militants and formed a militia to force them from Bajaur.

“At least 43 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in the suicide bombing,” top tribal administration official Zakir Hussain said.

Separately, 40 militants were killed in Mohmand, another lawless tribal district, in a series of military raids, officials said.

There were conflicting reports about the identity of the bomber in Khar with some officials saying the attacker was a woman, while others claimed a man disguised in a burqa was responsible.

The bomber was intercepted at a checkpoint outside the ration distribution centre and the blast occurred during a search, Sohail Khan said.

The deputy administrator of Khar, Tariq Khan, told AFP that the bombing was carried out by a woman. “It was a female suicide bomber,” he said.

Tribal police officials Mubashir Khan and Munasib Khan also said the attacker was a woman, who resisted being searched and hurled a hand grenade at security guards at the checkpoint before triggering her bomb.

“I was waiting to be searched in a queue at the checkpoint outside the ration point and heard a grenade explosion. People started running in panic and then a huge blast occurred,” tribesman Mushtaq Khan told AFP in hospital.

Khan, who suffered injuries to his arm, said he saw many people lying on the ground in pools of blood amid a cloud of dust and smoke.

Salarzai tribespeople had set up a vigilante force to evict militants from their area, but officials declined to comment when asked if they were the bomber’s intended target.

A spokesman for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the bombing.

“We carried out the suicide attack in Khar because these people had made a lashkar (tribal vigilante force) against us,” Azam Tariq told AFP in a telephone call.

Bajaur is one of seven Pakistani tribal districts, which the United States considers the global headquarters of Al-Qaeda and among the most dangerous places on Earth.

Security officials said they had been warned that two suicide bombers had entered Bajaur and would carry out attacks on December 22, but had changed their plans.

The local administration imposed an indefinite curfew in Khar while security forces patrolled streets and launched a search, officials said.

Doctor Mohammad Hafeez, head of the local state-run hospital, confirmed the death toll and said there were several women and children among the casualties.

In a first foreign reaction, British junior foreign minister Alistair Burt said, “This appalling attack on innocent refugees is a cruel reminder of the indiscriminate aims of the terrorists and an example of why the world must work together to do all we can to confront a menace without boundaries.”

In Mohmand, another tribal area, at least 40 militants were killed when helicopter gunships pounded their hideouts, officials said.

“Since yesterday Pakistani security forces helped by helicopter gunships carried out raids on suspected militant hideouts and killed 40 militants,” Mohmand’s top administration official Amjad Ali Khan told AFP.

Security forces had launched an operation in Baizai and Lakro villages following co-ordinated attacks on five checkposts on Friday in which 11 paramilitary soldiers and 24 militants were killed.

Pakistan’s military first conducted operations in Bajaur in August 2008 and have repeatedly claimed to have eliminated the Islamist militant threat.

Around 4,000 people have died in suicide and bomb attacks across Pakistan since government forces raided an extremist mosque in Islamabad in 2007. The attacks have been blamed on networks linked to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.