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Military

Updated: 25-May-2004
 

SHAPE News Morning Update

25 May 2004

BALKANS

  • NATO cool on Bosnia’s bid for partnership

AFGHANISTAN

  • Lawmakers call for NATO to expand Afghan mission

IRAQ

  • U.S. floats UN draft on Iraq future; U.S. troops stay
  • No blank cheque to U.S. over Iraq UN vote

TERRORISM

  • Al Qaeda has 18,000 militants for raids

RUSSIA

  • Russian navy mothballs its most powerful nuclear submarines

BALKANS

  • NATO threw cold water on Bosnia’s hopes for an early invitation to join the 46-nation Partnership for Peace program, suggesting on Monday that the country must still do more to cooperate with the UN war crimes court. NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told a news conference: “It’s difficult to predict, but...as I see it at this moment the odds are not in favour to have a decision at Istanbul yet.” He said that “commending and applauding the defence reforms” was one thing, but full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Hague was “the important yardstick.” (Reuters 241413 GMT May 04)

AFGHANISTAN

  • A delegation of lawmakers from NATO nations warned that the alliance must act soon to expand its peacekeeping force in Afghanistan, suggesting an extra 3,600 troops are needed to help with key elections in September. “We need to scale up our commitment there or risk losing all that we have invested,” said Pierre Lellouche, a French legislator who headed a delegation from NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly which had just returned from a trip to Afghanistan. He said the extra troops were needed at least from August through October to help with the elections. (AP 241522 May 04)

IRAQ

  • The United States and Britain on Monday asked for UN endorsement of a handover of power to an interim Iraqi government but want U.S. forces to be allowed to “take all measures” and set no date for them to leave. As part of the transition process, UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, now in Baghdad, is due to name a president, a prime minister, two vice presidents and 26 ministers soon. They would stay in office until elections for a national assembly, expected to be held by January 2005. (Reuters 242247 GMT May 04)


  • France said a UN resolution under debate in New York must ensure Iraq’s interim government had a say over actions taken by U.S.-led forces once sovereignty was handed over next month. Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said in Tuesday’s edition of Le Figaro newspaper that France, a veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council, believed the resolution could not be a “blank cheque” to the United States. A draft resolution circulated by Britain and the U.S. backs the formation of a “sovereign interim government” in Iraq that would take office by June 30, but sets no date for the departure of international troops. He said Paris was willing to offer Iraq help in training police, preparing elections in 2005 and rebuilding its shattered economy, but again ruled out sending French troops. (Reuters 241928 GMT May 04)

TERRORISM

  • Al Qaeda has more than 18,000 militants ready to strike and the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq has accelerated recruitment to the ranks of Osama bin Laden’s network, a leading London think-tank said on Tuesday. Al Qaeda’s finances were in good order, its “middle managers” provided expertise to Islamic militants around the globe and bin Laden’s drawing power was as strong as ever, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) said. It warned in its annual Strategic Survey that al Qaeda would keep trying to develop plans for attacks in North America and Europe and that the network ideally wanted to use weapons of mass destruction. “Meanwhile, soft targets encompassing Americans, Europeans and Israelis, and aiding the insurgency in Iraq, will do,” the institute said. “Galvanised by Iraq if compromised by Afghanistan, al Qaeda remains a viable and effective network of networks,” it added. “A rump leadership is still intact and over 18,000 potential terrorists are at large with recruitment accelerating on account of Iraq,” the IISS said. It gave no source for the figure. The International Institute for Strategic Studies said the Madrid train bombings in March suggested al Qaeda had now fully reconstituted and had set its sights firmly on the United States and its closest allies in Europe. (Reuters 250429 GMT May 04)

RUSSIA

  • A top admiral alleged that the Russian navy chief had decided to mothball the nation’s most powerful nuclear submarines after refusing to modernize their missiles. The navy on Monday denied the move and accused him of divulging state secrets. Adm. Gennady Suchkov, the head of the Northern Fleet, said that Adm. Vladimir Kuroyedov had ordered the navy to decommission the Typhoon-class submarines, depriving Russia of an important component of its strategic nuclear arsenal. “Nuclear weaponry is the only thing that brings respect to our nation,” he said in an interview published Monday in the liberal Novaya Gazeta newspaper. Adm. Suchkov said in separate comments to the Interfax-Military News Agency that the Northern Fleet has three Typhoon-class submarines - the Arkhangelsk, the Severstal and the Dmitry Donskoi. He said his pleas for modernizing the missiles had fallen on deaf ears, and that only the Severstal now carries 10 missiles, while the other two are unarmed. Navy spokesman Capt. Igor Dygalo insisted that there are no plans to scrap the Typhoon-class submarines. (AP 241225 May 04)

 



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