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| | |-+  Here is that runaway freight train.
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Author Topic: Here is that runaway freight train.  (Read 13091 times)
Shammu
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« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2006, 01:52:06 AM »

IMF wins new powers to police global economy
Reuters

WASHINGTON - The International Monetary Fund won new powers to police the world economy after its 184 member countries endorsed a new framework to monitor how the economic policies of one country affects others.

The countries, represented by finance ministers or central bank governors, also agreed that some emerging economies needed more say in IMF decision-making that could lead to a proposal for ad hoc increases in their voting shares by the next IMF gathering in September.

"We resolve to make the IMF more fit for purpose in a global economy and more able to address challenges that are quite different from those of 1945, when the IMF was created," Britain's finance minister, Gordon Brown, who also chairs the IMF's policy-setting committee, told a news conference.

"The IMF should be more able to address global questions with multilateral surveillance," Brown said.

The International Monetary and Financial Committee, or IMFC, said IMF surveillance would focus on spillovers and links between countries' economic policies and reaffirm their monetary, fiscal and exchange-rates frameworks.

IMF Managing Director Rodrigo Rato will have the authority to bring nations together on an ad hoc basis to thrash out any economic misalignments based on IMF analyses.

Officials said this would create a new forum that better reflected the rise of Asia in the global economy and could possibly replace bodies like the Group of Seven industrial countries, which some say can no longer call all the shots.

One of the problems facing the G7 is that major economic players like China are not part of the club, even though it is the fourth-largest economy in the world.

PRESSURE ON CHINA

The United States has pressured the IMF to broaden its surveillance to include the exchange rates of emerging countries, as Washington also pushes Beijing to loosen its tightly managed currency.

The IMF made the case that such a move was also critical to coordinating economic policies and preventing the unruly unwinding of huge global imbalances in trade and investment flows that could spark a world recession.

Member countries welcomed efforts to enhance monitoring of exchange rates but most said they were hesitant about the IMF publishing analyses on the theoretical fair value of currency rates because it was market sensitive.

China, however, said this did not mean the IMF should interfere in how countries manage their exchange rates.

"Fund surveillance should comply with the objective of promoting exchange and financial stability and respect the autonomy as to exchange rate systems that is granted to all (IMF) members," China's Governor Zhou Xiaochuan told the IMF committee.

In addition, Japanese Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki, said rebalancing the global economy not only had to do with more Asian currency flexibility.

"I believe what is paramount now for each member country and region is to implement steadily the policy measures needed to strengthen its respective economic fundamentals, which would contribute to resolving global imbalances in a smooth and orderly manner while maintaining sustainable growth." he said.

STRONGER VOICE

Addressing reporters, the IMF's Rato said the committee gave him a clear mandate to propose changes to the voting shares, or quotas, of some countries by September.

"I have spoken several times about the need for increases in voting power for some countries, including a number of emerging market economies, to ensure they have a role in the fund's decision-making process that accords with their increased importance in the world economy," he said.

An IMF proposal already circulated among members would give ad hoc increases to a small number of countries like China, South Korea, Mexico and Turkey. Other nations that could also possibly qualify include Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.

But tensions remain between industrial and developing countries over how to reallocate voting power beyond initial increases in the quotas for some emerging nations.

The Group of 24 finance ministers for developing countries from Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America on Friday called for a more comprehensive package with timelines to greater representation, fearing changes could stall after any initial increases.

They said it was "imperative" that a concrete proposal is worked out by the September meeting, which should also include a new formula to calculate quotas based on purchasing power parity of a country and not gross domestic product as is currently the case.

U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow said on Saturday he would support the ad hoc increase "if it is credibly linked as a down payment on near-term fundamental reform," like those to increase the fund's watchdog role on currency issues.

Although it is generally recognized that China's quotas do not properly reflect its global economic weight, an increase in its voting share may be controversial in light of proposed U.S. legislation threatening a veto of such a move in the absence of Chinese currency reforms.

German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck called for "equal treatment," saying some European countries -- like Germany -- were also underrepresented in their quotas. Countries like Ireland and Spain are also considered underrepresented.

"We all agreed to focus on countries which were clearly underrepresented," French Finance Minister Thierry Breton told a news conference, also pointing to the need to give countries in Africa a stronger voice.

IMF wins new powers to police global economy

My note; Whats next, brothers and sisters.
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Bronzesnake
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« Reply #16 on: April 25, 2006, 01:05:44 PM »

I haven't seen something this ugly come together so quick since the last time I put my Frankenstein puzzle together with my sons when they were just wee 'chiluns'! Shocked

John
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« Reply #17 on: April 25, 2006, 01:39:05 PM »

I haven't seen something this ugly come together so quick since the last time I put my Frankenstein puzzle together with my sons when they were just wee 'chiluns'! Shocked

John
I know my brother, it's getting bad, real quick. Look for things to get worse, before we fly.
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« Reply #18 on: April 25, 2006, 05:06:40 PM »

Russia Launches Israeli Spy Satellite

By HENRY MEIER 1 hour, 52 minutes ago

MOSCOW - Russia on Tuesday launched a satellite for
Israel that the Israelis say will be used to spy on
Iran's nuclear program.
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click here

The Eros B satellite was launched from a mobile pad at the Svobodny cosmodrome in the Far East, said Alexei Kuznetsov, a spokesman for the Russian military space forces.

About 20 minutes later, the satellite successfully reached orbit, Russian news agencies reported, citing the space forces' press service.

"The Israeli satellite reached its target orbit and has been transferred to the client's control," Kuznetsov was quoted as saying by the ITAR-Tass news agency.

Israel's Channel 10 TV reported that the launch was successful, but the satellite would not deploy its power panels for another day and a half.

The satellite is designed to spot images on the ground as small as 27 1/2 inches, an Israeli defense official said. That level of resolution would allow Israel to gather information on Iran's nuclear program and its long-range missiles, which are capable of striking Israel, he said.

The satellite, which can remain in orbit for six years, can photograph the same spot on the Earth once every four days, according to ITAR-Tass.

"The most important thing in a satellite is its ability to photograph and its resolution," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive subject matter. "This satellite has very high resolution, and (state-run) Israel Aircraft Industries has a great ability to process information that is relayed."

It could take up to 10 days to see whether the images that are transmitted are sharp and clear, he said.

Israel has for years regarded Iran as the primary threat to its survival, disputing Tehran's claims that its nuclear program is peaceful. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made this threat more tangible by repeatedly questioning Israel's right to exist, most recently on Monday, when he said Israel was a "fake regime" that "cannot logically continue to live."

Interim Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday that he takes threats by Ahmadinejad to wipe Israel off the map "very seriously."

"We do not take it lightly," Olmert said, speaking from Jerusalem by satellite relay to an Anti-Defamation League meeting in Washington. "We are powerful and able to defend ourselves."

An attempt to launch a military spy satellite, Amos 6, failed last year. Amos 5 is still in orbit, and Channel 10 reported Israel plans to launch another spy satellite next year.

Iran's threatening comments about Israel had special resonance on Tuesday, which Israel marked as Holocaust remembrance day. Israeli Nobel peace laureate Shimon Peres, in Poland for observances, drew a parallel between Ahmadinejad and Adolf Hitler.

"We will haven't recovered from this (the Holocaust) and I still hear these calls from Iran to destroy Israel," Peres said.

Ahmadinejad's words, he added, "are enough to put us all on alert."

Russia Launches Israeli Spy Satellite

My note; What better way to try, and destroy your enemies then to pretend to be a friend. Course we know, God will not allow that to happen.
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« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2006, 02:28:04 AM »

Worst Drought in 20 Years Hits East Africa
U.N. Appeals for More Funds and Food to Avert Widespread Starvation
By MARTIN SEEMUNGAL

WAJIR, Kenya, April 20, 2006 — - The scrubby grasslands of northeast Kenya have all but turned to dust.

The nomads, who move from place to place to find water and food for their precious cattle, have given up looking for green pastures. The land is dead. It has killed whole herds of cows, and even camels seem to be dying.

The nomads understand that when the cattle die, it's only a matter of time before people die. It's already happening in the most severely affected places.

The Horn of Africa is facing its worst drought in two decades, and nearly 6 million people in Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti and Kenya are at risk of dying. In recent days the much-anticipated seasonal rains have arrived in some parts of the region, but it's not nearly enough and in many places the sudden rains have led to flash flooding.

The situation is so dire that British aid agency Oxfam has launched an appeal for $36 million worth of aid. Oxfam workers on the ground in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia warn the death rate in those countries will dramatically increase unless more aid is sent in fast.

"This crises might be getting less attention that the tsunami did," Oxfam director Barbara Stocking said. "But the number of people needing help is even greater, and the severity of this crises means assistance is needed on a huge scale."

Thirsty for Help

It is midday on a vast sun-scorched plain in northeast Kenya. The temperature soars above 100 degrees, and there is no shade. Nearly 300 men, women and a few very thirsty children wait patiently. Barely a word is spoken; they are exhausted.

Most people have spent the night here in the open, and more people arrive, having walked since before dawn to get here. Everyone has come for one thing -- water.

For the first time in living memory, the nomads -- proud, resilient, independent -- have turned to the outside world for help. All they seem to have left are bunches of empty containers.

Nuria, a 41-year-old mother with five children, speaks slowly as she explains how, for the first time in her life, she has been unable to find water on her own.

"If we do not get help from the outside we will surely die," she said.

The lifeline appears as a dust cloud on the horizon -- a rickety truck carrying a leaky water tank. It maneuvers into position above a pit lined with yellow plastic sheeting. Within minutes there is a pool of fresh cool water, an oasis in a land that has been turned to desert.

Twice a week, the aid agency Oxfam sends the truck here and to about 30 other places to bring relief to a people hanging on by a thread. At first they move slowly, deliberately, to fill their containers. Then, as the water level begins to drop, the pace quickens and the level of anxiety begins to rise. There is shouting, even one or two scuffles break out.

Dying for More Water and Food

It is easy to understand why, some of these people have been without water for days. They won't get more water until the next truck arrives, which is three days away. The weekly ration per person works out to about two gallons, well below the universally accepted nine gallons per person. But that is all Oxfam can afford right now; it simply doesn't have the funds to bring in more.

"When you see how people are struggling over this water, you just feel desperate to help," said Magdalen Nandula, Oxfam's coordinator in the Wajir district.

"It wouldn't take much," she said. "Just $600 would have paid for another truck to deliver water on this day."

In the end, more than a dozen people walked away with empty containers.

Food is also a growing concern.

With so many cattle dead, the nomadic people are running out of sources for nourishment. Malnutrition and starvation loom. The United Nations World Food Program has distributed food for weeks but faces serious funding shortfalls in all countries.

"I don't think the world has appreciated until the last 60 days how serious this is; this is about as bad as it gets," said James Morris, executive director of the U.N. program. He added that in Kenya alone they are short $170 million, and he's desperate for people to take notice.

Worst Drought in 20 Years Hits East Africa
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« Reply #20 on: April 26, 2006, 02:29:07 AM »

Hamas Threatens to End Truce With Israel
Hamas Threatens to End Truce With Israel After Abbas Warns He Has Power to Dissolve Government
By AMY TEIBEL
The Associated Press

JERUSALEM - Hamas angrily rejected a warning by the moderate Palestinian president Monday that he could dismiss its month-old government, threatening to scrap a truce with Israel if he does.

The public warning heightened tensions between the Islamic militant group and President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the Fatah Party. Hamas defeated Fatah in January parliamentary elections. Abbas, elected separately, has been trying to trim the powers of the new Cabinet.

In an interview broadcast Monday on CNN-Turk, Abbas said Hamas must recognize Israel and talk peace to avert an economic catastrophe because of Western sanctions.

Abbas favors peace talks, but Hamas rejects the presence of a Jewish state in the Middle East. Hamas also refuses to renounce violence or accept interim Palestinian-Israeli peace accords basic international demands.

The extreme Hamas stance has harmed the Palestinians' world standing. More critically, it has led to a cutback in vital foreign aid, leaving Hamas unable to pay 165,000 public workers, the largest sector in the limping Palestinian economy, including about 80,000 in the security forces, many loyal to Fatah.

The current paychecks are already three weeks late, and next week another monthly salary is due, with no relief in sight, reinforcing Abbas' warning.

"The constitution gives me clear and definite authority to remove a government from power, but I don't want to use this authority. Everyone should know that by law this power is in my hands," Abbas said in the interview with CNN-Turk, recorded before he arrived in Turkey on Sunday.

Hamas reacted angrily, threatening to call off a 15-month truce brokered by Abbas that greatly reduced Israeli-Palestinian violence after five years of bloodshed.

A senior Hamas official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the group would "not leave in silence."

"We will not participate in any new election and we will go underground as we did before and we will not adhere to any commitments, any truce, by anyone," he said.

An Israeli government spokesman, Raanan Gissin, dismissed the Hamas threat, saying the militant group had never recognized the truce. Although it suspended its suicide bombing campaign after the cease-fire was reached, Hamas was in league with other militant groups that did attack Israel, Gissin charged, "and it never renounced terrorism."

A spokesman for the Hamas-led government, Ghazi Hamad, said Abbas should not have warned Hamas he could disband the government, sworn in on March 29, so early in its tenure.

"We expect from President Abbas to protect his government and not to make such declarations," Hamad said in an interview from Gaza City.

Aides to Abbas said his warning was directed at Khaled Mashaal, the Hamas leader who accused the Palestinian president last week of "plotting" against the militant group. Mashaal's accusation set off clashes and protests over the weekend.

The West, which provides the Palestinians with roughly $1 billion in annual aid, has cut off some of that funding to protest Hamas' refusal to moderate. Palestinian officials say U.S. pressure on international banks has kept Arab governments' money from reaching the Hamas government.

Israel has also squeezed the Palestinians financially by withholding monthly transfers of some $55 million in taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.

Abbas does not plan to dissolve the government soon and will do so only if the economic situation in the territories becomes catastrophic, the aides said.

Under Palestinian law, if Abbas dissolves the government, he would ask someone else to try to form a Cabinet, which would need approval from the Hamas-dominated legislature. Once Abbas determines there is a stalemate, he has the authority to order new elections.

There is evidence that the financial crunch may be starting to erode Hamas' support. Thousands have demonstrated at government offices because of the tardy paychecks, though most of the protesters were affiliated with Fatah. Opponents of the Hamas regime believe if it is unable to govern, it will fall.

Abbas spoke with CNN in both Arabic and English, and the interview was broadcast with a Turkish voice-over. CNN-Turk provided The Associated Press with a full transcript of Abbas' remarks, translated into Turkish.

In the interview, Abbas said Hamas must negotiate with Israel unless it wants to lead the Palestinian people into a humanitarian catastrophe.

"Hamas has to face the facts and establish communication with Israel," he said. "I'm worried that the situation will turn into a tragedy in the near future. A short time later we could be up against a great hunger disaster in Palestine."

The Palestinian leader vowed to work to solve the Israeli-Palestinian crisis with or without Hamas.

"Hamas can support me or not. When I find a way to a solution with Israel, I'll present this to the Palestinian people in a referendum," he said.

Israel has not been in serious contact with Abbas since Hamas took power. The Israelis say they favor peace talks, but officials say they cannot regard the Palestinian Authority as a two-headed entity, ignoring Hamas.

Hamas Threatens to End Truce With Israel
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« Reply #21 on: April 28, 2006, 01:07:54 AM »

Iran Gets First North Korean-Made Missiles

By ARON HELLER, Associated Press Writer Thu Apr 27, 8:20 AM ET

JERUSALEM -
Iran has received its first batch of North Korean-made surface-to-surface missiles that put European countries within firing range,
Israel's military intelligence chief said in an interview published Thursday.
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The BM-25 missiles have a range of 1,550 miles and are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, the Haaretz daily reported.

The report came as U.N. members consider slapping sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt its uranium enrichment. The United States, Israel and other Western countries say Iran is trying to get nuclear arms, but the Islamic regime says its atomic program is for civilian purposes only.

The
U.N. Security Council has given Iran until Friday to stop enriching uranium, a necessary step for developing nuclear weapons. Should Iran refuse to comply, which it has indicated it will do, the Security Council is likely to consider taking punitive measures.

Israeli security officials confirmed the Haaretz report. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, who spoke to Haaretz, has warned of the new Iranian missiles in several recent interviews to the media. Iran already has missiles capable of reaching Israel, but the BM-25s are a significant upgrade over its existing top-of-the-line missiles — the Shihab-4 and Shihab-3.

Those missiles spurred Israel to develop its Arrow-2 anti-ballistic missile system, which is can intercept the Iranian missiles.

Israeli concerns have been heightened in recent months by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's calls to wipe Israel "off the map."

Iran has also tested several long-range missiles in recent weeks, including a "top secret" missile capable of being fired from helicopters and jet fighters, Iranian state-run television reported.

Iran also tested the Fajr-3, a missile it said can avoid radar and hit several targets simultaneously using multiple warheads. Iran also tested what it calls two new torpedoes.

U.S. intelligence officials have said that Iran is at an advanced stage of developing a missile that can carry a nuclear warhead. The United States has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency of the details of the Iranian missile program.

On Tuesday, an Israeli satellite meant to spy on Iran's nuclear program was launched by Russia. The satellite is designed to spot images on the ground as small as 27 1/2 inches, an Israeli defense official said.

Iran Gets First North Korean-Made Missiles
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« Reply #22 on: April 28, 2006, 01:18:03 AM »

Iran Missiles Can Carry Nukes, Hit Europe

Thursday , April 27, 2006

JERUSALEM  — Iran has received a first batch of BM-25 surface-to-surface missiles that put European countries within firing range, Israel's military intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, was quoted as saying in the Haaretz daily on Thursday.

The missiles, purchased from North Korea, have a range of 1,550 miles and are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, Haaretz reported.

The report comes as U.N. members consider slapping sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt uranium enrichment. The United States, Israel and other Western countries say Iran is trying to get nuclear arms, but the Islamic regime says its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only.

CountryWatch: Iran

The U.N. Security Council has given Iran until Friday to stop enriching uranium, a necessary step for developing nuclear weapons. Should Iran refuse to comply, which it has indicated it will do, the Security Council is likely to consider taking punitive measures.

Israeli security officials confirmed the Haaretz report. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Yadlin has warned of the new Iranian missiles in several recent interviews to the media. Iran already has missiles capable of reaching Israel, but the BM-25 missiles are a significant upgrade over its existing top of the line missiles — the Shihab-4 and Shihab-3.

Those missiles spurred Israel to develop its Arrow 2 anti-ballistic missile system, which is can intercept the Iranian missiles.

Israeli concerns have been heightened in recent months by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's calls to wipe Israel "off the map."

Iran has also tested several long-range missiles in recent weeks, including a "top secret" missile capable of being fired from all military helicopters and jet fighters, the Iranian state-run television reported.

Iran also tested the Fajr-3, a missile it said can avoid radar and hit several targets simultaneously using multiple warheads. Iran also has tested what it calls two new torpedoes.

American intelligence officials have said that Iran is at an advanced stage of developing a missile that can carry a nuclear warhead. The United States has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency of the details of the Iranian missile program.

On Tuesday, Israel launched a satellite meant to spy on Iran's nuclear program. The satellite, launched from Russia, is designed to spot images on the ground as small as 27.5 inches and would allow Israel to monitor Iran's nuclear program and long-range missiles, an Israel defense official said.

Iran Missiles Can Carry Nukes, Hit Europe
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« Reply #23 on: April 28, 2006, 01:47:46 PM »

Iran hurls defiance as UN braces itself for a nuclear showdown
By Richard Beeston, Diplomatic Editor

IRAN will be reported to the UN Security Council today for defying the international community and pressing ahead with its controversial nuclear programme.

But even as a damning report, prepared by the international nuclear watchdog, was being sent to UN headquarters in New York, Tehran stepped up its inflammatory rhetoric and challenged the world to do its worst. President Ahmadinejad of Iran, who has made confrontation with the West the centrepiece of his tenure, said that his country was impervious to outside pressure.

“If you think that by frowning at us, by issuing resolutions . . . you can impose anything on the Iranian nation or force it to abandon its obvious right, you still don’t know its power,” the hardline leader said. “We have obtained the technology for producing nuclear fuel . . . No one can take it away from our nation.”

His remarks reflected Iran’s growing conviction that it can defy the world with impunity because the international community is hopelessly divided about how to proceed. Last night Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, told Nato foreign ministers meeting in Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, that the Security Council would lose credibility if it did not act. But key members remained deeply divided. Although President Bush insists that the military option is still “on the table”, Russia and China recoil from the idea of even modest sanctions.

The report will be delivered today by Mohamed ElBaradei, the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who was assigned last month the impossible task of persuading Iran to halt its programme of uranium enrichment and reporting back to the Security Council on Tehran’s compliance.

At the heart of the crisis is Iran’s decision to press ahead with its programme to enrich uranium. Tehran insists that this is to provide fuel for its civilian nuclear programme, but critics contend that the oil-rich country is developing an atomic bomb.

Dr ElBaradei’s attempt to bridge the widening gap between Iran and the international community proved unsuccessful. He spent only one fruitless day in Tehran.

Although some nations might be intimidated by the prospect of taking on the joint will of America, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, Iran has positively relished thumbing its nose at the world powers. The Iranian leadership has fired almost daily verbal salvos against its critics. This week alone it has threatened to cut oil production, to export its nuclear technology, to ban international nuclear monitors, to hide its atomic programme and to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

For good measure Mr Ahmadinejad also denounced Israel as a fake regime and predicted that it could not continue to live. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, added that if the US attacked Iran, it would retaliate twice as hard against American interests around the world.

Iran’s defiance is not based on a suicidal wish to take on the world, but rather on an understanding that the international community is crippled by deep divisions on what to do next. While all five permanent Security Council members agree that Tehran should stop its enrichment programme, Russia and China oppose any moves that could lead to sanctions or the use of force.

Britain has been working behind the scenes to persuade Moscow and Beijing to support a resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which can impose punitive sanctions and even approve force against a country deemed to be a threat to international security. Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said this week that London was already contemplating sanctions, which would probably include a ban on senior Iranian officials travelling abroad and a freeze on all sales of arms and nuclear equipment to Iran.

But Moscow and Beijing, which have huge commercial interests in Iran, appeared yesterday to reject any embargo against Tehran. President Putin of Russia said: “We think that the IAEA must continue to play a major, key role, and it must not shrug off its responsibilities to resolve such questions and shift them on to the UN Security Council.”

Beijing echoed the need for patienct restraint. “A diplomatic solution is the correct choice and is in the interests of all parties,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said. “China urges all parties to avoid measures that could worsen the situation.”

There are fears in the region that, without a diplomatic solution, America or Israel may decide to take pre-emptive military action against Iranian nuclear facilities. MajorGeneral Amos Yadlin, the head of Israeli military intelligence, said yesterday that Iran had bought North Korean surface-to-surface missiles that had a range of 1,550 miles (2,500km) and were capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

Military experts confirmed that the Iranians had received 18 BM15 missiles, which could put countries including the Czech Republic, Italy and Romania within range.

Iran hurls defiance as UN braces itself for a nuclear showdown
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« Reply #24 on: April 28, 2006, 04:19:58 PM »

Russia’s Putin Reclaiming Dominant Role in Former Soviet Union

Created: 21.03.2006 11:52 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 14:19 MSK

Henry Meyer

Associated Press

The Kremlin may be reclaiming a dominant role in its former Soviet backyard.

In Belarus, Moscow-allied strongman Alexander Lukashenko just won re-election by a landslide — at least by the official count. And President Vladimir Putin’s allies could return to government in Sunday’s Ukrainian parliamentary election, just over a year after the Orange Revolution.

Such developments set back Western hopes of a democratic tidal wave in the former Soviet sphere and could further tarnish Putin’s democratic credentials as he tries to cast himself as a statesman capable of brokering deals with Iran and Hamas.

For Putin, however, asserting dominance over Belarus and Ukraine appears to be part of his strategy to re-establish Moscow as a global player during his year of the G-8 presidency.

“Russia wants to restore its superpower status, and that includes putting these countries back into its orbit,” said Yevgeny Volk, Moscow director of the conservative U.S think tank Heritage Foundation.

“It is seeking to reclaim its influence over the former Soviet Union, and remove that of the United States and European Union,” he added.

Russia was furious at what it saw as Western encroachment on its home turf after Ukraine’s November 2004 Orange Revolution — the mass protests over election fraud that brought reformist opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko to power over the Kremlin’s favored candidate, Viktor Yanukovych.

Months later, the impoverished Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan had its Tulip Revolution, becoming the third former Soviet state within 18 months to see opposition forces topple a Soviet-era leader. Georgia’s Rose Revolution started the process in 2003.

Today, however, Russia is once again on the rise as nervous authoritarian regimes from Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan — where rights groups say government troops killed hundreds of civilians in a crackdown on protesters last year — build closer ties to Moscow, partly as a way to cow opposition forces.

Even in Ukraine, disillusionment at political infighting and the economic collapse that followed the Orange Revolution have brought about a political comeback for Yanukovych, whose rigged victory in the 2004 presidential election was annulled by the Supreme Court.

Enjoying strong support in the Russian-speaking east, his party is poised to win the most seats in the new parliament and earn the right to form the government, even if it will probably need to govern in an uneasy coalition with the party of the pro-Western Yushchenko.

“The West’s influence that triumphed in the color revolutions has clearly become a dead end for these nations,” said Sergei Markov, a Kremlin-connected political analyst. “In Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, people live worse, not better than before.”

By contrast, in Belarus, whose authoritarian president is shunned by Western nations as Europe’s last dictator, cheap supplies of Russian gas provide a vital lifeline to the inefficient, state-dominated economy.

Analyst Alexei Malashenko of the Carnegie Moscow Center think tank said on Ekho Moskvy radio that while the Kremlin sometimes had tense relations with Belarus, its greatest interest lay in preserving the status quo in Minsk.

He also said that despite loud Western criticism of the Belarus election, there was no serious attempt to help pro-democratic forces, as happened in Ukraine.

“There was a strong fight for Ukraine, but no one fought for Belarus,” Malashenko said.

Analysts agree that Russia’s trump card in the region is its immense energy resources. They ensure that despite pro-Western inclinations, both Georgia and Ukraine remain dangerously dependent on their larger neighbor.

A pipeline explosion that cut off Russian supplies to Georgia this winter left millions shivering in their homes — provoking accusations from the tiny U.S.-allied Caucasus mountain state that Russia was deliberately trying to bring it to its knees.
Ukraine meanwhile had to swallow a twofold increase in gas prices after a bitter New-Year dispute that saw Moscow turn off the gas taps.

“Russia is using strong economic levers. With the growth of oil and gas exports it has become much richer than it was in the 1990s and it is translating this economic might into political influence and power,” said Volk.

At the center of the Russian policy in the region is a determination to resist the West’s efforts to boost its influence at Russia’s expense, in what Moscow says is falsely portrayed as a bid to promote democracy.

Russia yesterday accused the United States of trying to enforce its vision of democracy on others, angrily rejecting President Bush’s criticism that the Kremlin has rolled back freedoms.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2006, 04:22:29 PM by DreamWeaver » Logged

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« Reply #25 on: April 29, 2006, 12:41:03 PM »

 No legal grounds for imposing sanctions on Iran: Russian diplomat
Moscow, April 29, IRNA

Russia-Iran-Nuclear
A former Russian Duma speaker said here Saturday that there was no legal basis for the imposition of sanctions on Iran by the UN Security Council.

Talking to IRNA, Ruslan Khazbulatov said Iran's nuclear activities were being conducted within the framework of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

On the report of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei to the UN Security Council, he was of the view that the Security Council has "only the authority to ask Iran to cooperate with the IAEA and continue negotiations." The Islamic Republic of Iran is an active member of both the IAEA and the UN, he said, and stressed that Tehran had repeatedly declared it had no intention of producing nuclear weapons.

Since Iran has not violated its obligations under the Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT), there is no ground for the imposition of sanctions on the country, the Russian diplomat stressed, and added that coercive measures will only damage the interests of countries, including the West and even the US.

Terming the positions taken by Russia and China regarding Iran's peaceful nuclear activities "logical," Khazbulatov said US accusations against Iran were part of its war-mongering policies in the region.

Urging Washington not to repeat past mistakes such as its attack on Iraq, he said even western leaders believe an attack on Iran would be suicidal.

Exacerbating the Iran-US conflict will make tens of regional states involved in a possible war, he said, and stressed that any war will inflict the largest damage on Washington's interests in the region.

No legal grounds for imposing sanctions on Iran: Russian diplomat
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« Reply #26 on: April 29, 2006, 12:41:52 PM »

 Mottaki, Russian counterpart discuss nuclear developments on phone
Moscow, April 29, IRNA

Iran-Russia-FMs
Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov discussed on Saturday the latest development on Iran's nuclear dossier over phone.

Mottaki initiated the telephone conversation following recent report of IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei on Iran's nuclear activities.

During the telephone conversation, the Russian foreign minister underlined that Iran should take necessary measures to win the confidence of others on its peaceful nuclear activities.

The Russian foreign minister called for suspension of uranium enrichment activities in Iran and urged Iran to fully cooperate with IAEA in a bid to clarify its activities and remove existing ambiguities in the country's nuclear program.

Mottaki, Russian counterpart discuss nuclear developments on phone
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« Reply #27 on: April 29, 2006, 12:42:39 PM »

 Iran, Russia discuss bilateral, regional cooperation
Moscow, April 28, IRNA

Iran-Russia-Ties
Iran and Russia here Thursday discussed avenues for bolstering bilateral and regional cooperation.

An Iranian parliamentary delegation, headed by Iran's Vice-Speaker Mohammad-Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard, met with Russian State Duma Vice-Speaker Sergei Baburin, Deputy Speaker of Russia's Lower House of Parliament Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Duma's Deputy Artur Chilingarov.

The Iranian delegation, including a Majlis deputy Hossein Sheikholeslam and deputy ambassador to Russia Qorban Seifi, invited Duma officials to attend the 7th session of the Association of Asian Parliaments for Peace, slated to be held in Tehran.

The delegation, which is currently in Russia to attend the 100th anniversary of establishment of Russian State Duma, which was held at Tavricheski Palace in Saint Petersburg, also met with Chairman of Duma for Security Affairs Vladimir Vasilyev and Chairman of the Committee on Defense Viktor Zavarzin.

During the meeting, the sides stressed the importance of bolstering cooperation between commissions of the two parliaments.

Russian State Duma was founded on April 27, 1906, upon an order by Nicholas II, last Tsar of Russia.

Iran, Russia discuss bilateral, regional cooperation
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« Reply #28 on: May 02, 2006, 07:26:20 AM »

Russia, China Promise Not to Back Sanctions Against Iranian Nuclear Program

Created: 02.05.2006 12:00 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 12:00 MSK, 3 hours 9 minutes ago

MosNews

Iran’s foreign minister has said that Russia and China had officially informed Tehran they would not support sanctions or military action over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, the Reuters news agency reports.

U.N. ambassadors from the United States, Britain and France are expected to introduce a resolution this week to legally oblige Iran to comply with U.N. Security Council demands it halt all uranium enrichment work.

When asked how far Russia and China, veto-wielding permanent members of the council, would support Washington, Manouchehr Mottaki told the Kayhan newspaper:

“The thing these two countries have officially told us and expressed in diplomatic negotiations is their opposition to sanctions and military attacks.”

“At the current juncture, I personally believe no sanctions or anything like that will be on the agenda of the Security Council,” he said in the interview.

Western diplomats say China and Russia will probably back a U.N. resolution demanding a halt to Iran’s fuel work, but are not yet ready to back moves toward sanctions.

Iran has been hauled before the U.N. Security Council after failing to convince the international community that its nuclear power station program is not a front for building an atom bomb.

Russia, China Promise Not to Back Sanctions Against Iranian Nuclear Program
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« Reply #29 on: May 02, 2006, 07:27:06 AM »

Labor Unions, Communists March in Russian Cities

Created: 01.05.2006 12:56 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 12:56 MSK

MosNews

Over 29,000 people are taking part in May parades and rallies in Moscow on Monday.

Moscow labor unions started to hold their march at 9.00 AM local time (6.00 GMT) with about 25,000 participants. After an hour, they started a rally near the Moscow city administration office. Representatives of 44 organizations entering Moscow Labor Federation, and members of the pro-Kremlin party United Russia took part in the parade. Moscow mayor spoke before the marchers and said the minimal salary defined by the Russian government as 1,100 rubles (about $40) was a “real shame.” He added that the minimal salary in Moscow is four times bigger than that for the whole Russia.

About 2,000 people are taking part in a march held by Social Democrats, over 1,000 in a parade held by extreme leftist ’Labor Russia’ party. About 1,000 people are marching under the slogans of the pro-Kremlin ’Russian Party of Life’, Gazeta.Ru website reported.

The biggest parade in Moscow is prepared by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and other leftist parties and movements. The nationalist ’Movement Against Illegal Immigration’ (DPNI) is also taking part in this parade. However, Moscow police demanded that members of the movement take part in the parade without their own slogans, flags and emblems, Ekho Moskvy radio station reported. Communists even prepared slogans standing for freedom between various nations in order to prevent DPNI’s provocations. The movement was one of organizers of a November rally in Moscow against illegal immigration that was considered neo-Nazi by Russian liberals and human rights activists.

Over 15,000 people took part in a big demonstration in St. Petersburg. The column was led by an orchestra playing patriotic songs. Labor activists, members of United Russia including the speaker of the city assembly, as well as activists of communist and nationalist parties and movements holding portraits of Che, Lenin, Stalin and Belarus’ president Alexander Lukashenko and shouting slogans against the Russian government.

Over 20,000 people took part in a May demonstration in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok. Members of public organizations, parties, industrial and trade enterprises, students, as well as 70 drummers of the military school have marched along the city streets. The governor Sergei Darkin led the column. About 300 people dressed in national clothing of various local nations also marched in the column.

The governor said in his speech it was important “to bring back everything good that was dear to many generations of Russian people.” May parades were one of the significant features of life in the Soviet Union. In modern Russia, this day is called the holiday of spring and labor.

Over 20,000 people took part in the May parade in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg, in the Urals. Labor activists and members of United Russia marched together. The marchers shouted slogans demanding higher salaries and more work places for young people.

10 members of a youth movement, Monstration, were detained during a parade in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk. About 250 members of Monstration were not allowed to take part in the column of youth labor activists because there was no official organizer of their march. They marched a roundabout way shouting playful slogans like ’Land to peasants, sky to aliens.’ ’Monstrators’ attempted to dance in a ring near a rally held by local communists and nationalists. Policemen forced them out of the square and detained 10 of them.

Labor Unions, Communists March in Russian Cities
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