Global Security Headlines

Sunday, March 29, 2009

RFI - Iranian Military Experts in Pyongyang

credit: RFI

Translation Courtesy: Buenos Aires Translator - Professor Winn

NOTE: Professor Winn is a trained observer of international relations and certified translator. These unique skills provide his loyal readers expanded insights distinct from other global security blogs.

Analysis: While the article dismisses the Iranian-North Korean linkage as fitting former US President's "axle of evil," this linkage is precisely what worries global security observers no matter the historical ties between the two countries.

Iran is assisting North Korea perfect its ballistic missile technology. These two rogue nations are negative regional actors, but their technological gains propose wider global security challenges given the increasing range of their missiles.

The proliferation of ballistic missile technology wedded with nuclear ambitions is a deadly combination in the hands of unstable leaders in Tehran and Pyongyang.

The world waits to see just how much Iran has helped North Korea improve its "satellite launch" program. The anticipated early April launch is only a few days away.

Translated Article from the original French

RFI - Des experts militaires iraniens à Pyongyang

Iran/ North Korea
Iranian military experts in Pyongyang

by RFI

Article published 03/29/2009 Last updated on 03/29/2009 at 10:36 UT

Iranian experts are in North Korea to assist the April launch of a “satellite” according to Pyongyang and a disguised missile by the United States, Japan, and South Korea, reports the Japanese newspaper, Sankei Shimbun, on Sunday, citing anonymous sources. Fifteen Iranian missile technology experts arrived in North Korea in early March carrying a letter from the Iranian president to the North Korean leader.

On February 2, Iran placed its first satellite into orbit with its Safir-2 rocket, fuelling Western worries that Tehran would use the technology to develop its ballistic missile program. (Photo: Reuters)

On February 2, Iran placed its first satellite into orbit with its Safir-2 rocket, fuelling Western worries that Tehran would use the technology to develop its ballistic missile program. (Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

If Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrote Kim Jong-il, it is does signal George Bush’s axis of evil, but underscores the important cooperation between the two countries in the fields of ballistic missiles and space. Iran and North Korea have worked together in these fields for more than 20 years.

Since the 1980s, Iran showed interest in the North Korean Hwaseong-5, nothing more than an improvement on the Soviet Scud. In June 1987 at the end of the Iran-Iraq War, Tehran bought 100 for $500 million. It was renamed Shahab-1 in Iran with a range of 300 kilometers.

In 1993, North Korea prepared a new missile : the Rodong-1 with a range of 1,500 kilometers. In March, Iranian General Mantequei, head of the Revolution’s guided missile program, was invited for its test. Delighted, Iran bought 150 Rodongs and renamed them Shahab-2 and Shahab-3.

At the time, Tehran was not just satisfied with buying North Korean technology. Iranian engineers developed their own ballistic missiles with oil dollars. North Korea was not their only seller and they soon overtook their client.

Today Iran is more advanced than North Korea. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad takes pride in recently launching a satellite into space. Iranians are assisting North Korea launch its much-touted Taepodong-2 missile with a supposed range of 6,700 kilometers.

Translation Courtesy: Buenos Aires Translator, Professor Winn

Please contact Professor Winn for translations (Spanish/French/Portuguese >English) via email ( for prompt evaluation.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Japón y EEUU, en alerta máxima por cohete de Corea del Norte |

Translation Courtesy: Buenos Aires Translator

Japón y EEUU, en alerta máxima por cohete de Corea del Norte |

Japan and US on maximum alert for North Korean Missile

Las dos potencias no están dispuestas a quedarse de brazos cruzados mientras Pyongyang se apresta a lanzar el supuesto cohete. Por eso, la primera movilizó dos buques militares capaces de interceptar misiles y la segunda alista otras dos naves destructoras. ¿Conflicto armado a la vista?

The two powers are not sitting with their arms crossed while Pyongyang readies to launch its reported rocket. In this regard, the former mobilized two missile interceptor vessles and the latter two naval destroyers. Is armed conflict near?

Corea del Norte anunció que lanzará un satélite de comunicaciones entre el 4 y el 8 de abril, pero las potencias regionales creen que será una prueba de su misil de largo alcance, el Taepodong-2, que ya estaría en la plataforma de lanzamiento en una base.

North Korea said it will launch a communications satellite between April 4 and 8, but the regional powers believe the long-range missile test of the Taepodong-2 could already be on a base launch pad.

Test of Wills, Credibility

ang insists in being first to challenge the young Obama administration in Washington.

The test of wills between the two capitals is more than an academic exercise for both US foes and friends alike. Japan, a stalwart Asian ally, now has Patriot missile batteries surrounding Tokyo just in case.

Given the untested president, US credibility not only in Asia but worldwide hangs in the balance the stakes are so high.

Media reports diffused in different languages communicate explicitly Washington and Tokyo's resolve to counter any Pyongyang chicanery.

US in Range

The Taepodong-2, a two or three-stage rocket with a range of over 4,000 miles, could hit Alaska while a US admiral also includes Hawaii, where President Obama spent his formative years.

While analysts at Global Security Monitor are certain Pyongyang is aware of the "red lines" set by Washington to what constitutes a "pull the ripcord" moment, it is not abundantly clear North Korea cares. credit: AFP

Given North Korea's technical difficulties with the Taepedong (the last test failed in 2006), a safer scenario for global security is another launch pad "accident."

While the immediate crisis would pass, the persistent problem of a starving hermit regime armed to the teeth across
from the DMZ menacing an important US ally, South Korea, and disturbing NE Asia peace, would remain in its wake.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

North Korea readies missile, makes new threat

North Korea readies missile, makes new threat

3...2...1...Countdown to Confrontation

North Korea appears impervious to external pressure. Its early April satellite launch (which also tests ballistic missile launch capability) nears without any sign of flexibility from Pyongyang.

Despite the warnings of more UN sanctions (dubious effectiveness given the extent North Korea is already disconnected from the global community) and the presence of US naval vessels offshore to shoot down the missile if ordered, Pyongyang nears the point of no return in its deadly serious cat-and-mouse game with its Six Party Talk states (US, China, Russia, Japan, South Korea).

Another rogue regime disturbs regional security with wider implications for global security. The countdown to confrontation with North Korea advances unabated.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

More Realism Needed in US Policy Toward Iran

US President Obama's video personal appeal to the leaders of Iran's theocracy fell flat with a loud thud. The young president's "new beginning" was at best another naive overture to a hardened ideological regime dedicated to defeating US interests in the Middle East and leading a worldwide jihad.

It is increasingly clear the new US administration has not studied recent diplomatic history with Iran. The so-called EU-3 (France, Germany, and United Kingdom) Initiative born in 2003 to assert (unsuccessfully) the European Union's stake in global security failed to convince Iran with again - words - to alter its negative behavior. It was difficult for Iran to take serious complaints by its European trading partners.

The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) in its February 2009 report in a frank manner lays bare the big elephant in the room for the implications of Tehran's continued intransigence on the nuclear issue:

"Regrettably, as a result of the continued lack of cooperation by Iran in connection with the
remaining issues which give rise to concerns about possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear programme, the Agency has not made any substantive progress on these issues."

While recording the history of the Iranian nuclear program in its various filings, the IAEA is unable as an institution to put the brakes on Tehran's naked ambition to acquire actionable nuclear weapons and wed this destructive capability with its ballistic missile program. That task is incumbent upon states.

A "new beginning," holiday wishes or hopes for a better tomorrow with Tehran are not needed. Worse is the hint of moral equivalence between the US and Iran. From the US president, again, a glaring lack of knowledge about the current Iranian regime is appalling.

A fair reading of human history illuminates at least one point: olive branches and melodious rhetoric from democracies do not tame despotic regimes bent on implementing their negative policies. In the end, Nazi Germany and the former Soviet Union yielded only to confrontation to change their ways when there was a will to fight.

The rod, not the olive branch, compelled a change in course. Our dangerous world is governed by the aggressive use of force.

The continued lack of realism and sober views of the current Islamic-fascist regime in Tehran by Washington edges the global community ever closer to either acquiescing to a nuclear-tipped Iran or acting to stop it.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Empresario venezolano condenado a 4 años de prisión en caso del maletín

Empresario venezolano condenado a 4 años de prisión en caso del maletín

Venezuelan businessman sentenced to 4 years in prison for valise case

El empresario venezolano Franklin Durán fue sentenciado el lunes a cuatro años de prisión por cargos de actuar ilegalmente como agente del gobierno de Venezuela en un esfuerzo por encubrir el origen y el destino de un maletín con $800,000 incautado en Argentina.

Venezuelan businessman Franklin Duran was sentenced Monday to four years in prison for charges of illegally acting as a Venezuelan agent in order to hide the origin and destination of a valise with $800,000 seized in Argentina.

Vestido con una camisa caqui de prisionero y visiblemente pálido, Durán no reaccionó ante el fallo que se apartó ostensiblemente de los 13 años que minutos antes había pedido el fiscal del caso, Tom Mulvihill.

Dressed in a khaky prison shirt and visibly pale, Duran did not react during the sentencing apart from the ostensible 13 years minutes before the prosecutor Tom Mulvihill had asked for in the case.

Investigation of "dirty money"case does not end here.

Just what game was President Chavez of Venezuela playing by sending the cash during the election campaign of current President Christina Kirchner of Argentina?

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Monday, March 16, 2009

North Korea I: Clear and Present Danger to Global Security

Dangerous DPRK

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) a/k/a North Korea is another clear and present danger to global security like Iran. The nuclear genie out of the bottle worries global security planners and observers alike.

North Korea is nuclear and is testing long-range missiles to deliver these payloads while sharing (selling) its technology with other pariah regimes across the globe like a nuclear reactor in Syria.

Who leads the DPRK?

The DPRK is a mysterious country cloaked in secrecy, opaqueness, and intrigue. Its Juche philosophy - extreme self-reliance and sacrifice for the North Korean state - remains its guiding body of principles. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Pyonyang has become more militarily bellicose and politically isolated.

An apparent ailing Kim Jong-il has sparked a leadership crisis for the regime amidst its confrontation with its neighbors and the US over its nuclear program. Its economy is moribund. The populace "continues to suffer from prolonged malnutrition and poor living conditions." Its military, winner of most state resources, is poised to unleash a scorching artillery and missile barrage on South Korea and overrun its familiar nation.

What next for the DPRK?

A wounded animal fights to the death. The DPRK is spiraling downward for either a hard or soft landing. Its fragility however is no reason to recoil from the difficult task ahead. Our next post examines the military situation on the Korean peninsula and in our third post we discuss the red lines for a policy cracking the Korean chestnut that vexes global security policy makers.

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US shoots down Iranian spy drone |

US shoots down Iranian spy drone |

Iran remains an immediate threat to Mid East security and increasingly to global security because of its aggressive nuclear and long-range missile programs. The negative regime in Tehran is not easily deterred and no credible force has yet to step forward to directly oppose its lethal designs. The US may leave Iraq; Iran will not.

Report: Cuba, Venezuela could host Russian bombers

credit:DND Handout Photo

Report: Cuba, Venezuela could host Russian bombers

Back to the Cold War?

When US President Obama visited Canada in his first trip abroad in late February, Canadian fighters intercepted two Russian Tu-95 bombers in an increasing show of strength off the North American coastline.

The Russian-Cuban-Venezuelan connection must be taken seriously.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Commuting Cuba's Embargo

credit: AP

The new Obama Administration in Washington has raised high hopes about imminent changes in international policy on a host of issues.

The tiny state of Cuba still figures in a prominent way in the US international policy calculus. The Cuban exile community is politically potent and savvy. The country's geographic proximity is another concern.

Since Fidel Castro marched triumphantly into Havana in 1959, a Cold War has raged between the two hemispheric neighbors filled with mutual suspicion and high drama including almost triggering the nuclear trip wire in the Missile Crisis with the former Soviet Union.

While the old warrior Fidel has retired due to serious health reasons resulting from a routine surgical procedure (in most countries without Cuban-style medical care), his somewhat younger brother (five years difference) only changes the face of murderous Castro, Inc. which runs the island prison for their sole economic benefit.

Indeed, the Castro family fortune is estimated at nearly $1 billion, according to Forbes Magazine in 2006. What would Fathers Marx and Lenin think?

It seems the US embargo has not dented Castro, Inc. given Cuba trades with every other country (and limited items with the US). The embargo is not about economics, but politics. It is a test of wills between freedom and liberty and repression and murder.

If the US blinks under President Obama - something every president has not done since 1959 - and commutes the embargo, a moral victory goes to the dying dictator and the Castro-clones throughout the region and the world. Imagine the Hugo Chavez victory speech!

The US will not garner an ounce of recognition contrary to the columnists and other observers otherwise who have mixed motivations for sporting a repeal of the embargo. On the contrary, th price could be very high. Surrendering in face of tyranny never accrues profits or benefits for democracies.

Raul Castro is more of the same brutal repression in the name of profits for the Castro clique and a desperate attempt at regime survival. An internal putsch to end blood-dipped Castroism once and for all is one likely scenario to solve the Cuban problem. Now that is Cuban self-determination.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mexico: Where the Bullets Are

credit: AP

Welcome to Mexico

The 1960 movie "Where the Boys Are" about college spring break has been replaced with "Where the Bullets Are" for those university-age youths still considering heading south of the US border this month for romp and revelry.

The US State Department issued a travel alert and is working with colleges and universities to warn students before embarking for Mexico. State also has a web page devoted to a safe spring break abroad.

Safe travel has always been an global security issue. Indeed, for corporations, some personnel are provided security briefings and afforded special insurance packages to compensate the hazardous journey abroad. Travel intelligence is an important business in our dangerous world.

Mexico's Drug War Out of Control

credit: AP/Eduardo Verdugo
The underlying cause for concern is the out of control drug war now at the gates of and spilling over into the US that threatens the survival of the Mexican nation-state.

Indeed, as we have previously commented, US security planners actually ponder a rapid and sudden collapse of its southern neighbor.

Mayor José Reyes Ferriz of Ciudad Juarez, the epicenter of drug lords battling for the supply routes to the United States, has his family across the border in El Paso, Texas, to protect them from persistent death threats. His police chief resigned on February 20 to comply with drug lord demands or face a police officer dead every 48 hours. Other chiefs were merely assassinated.

The Sinaloa cartel (Gulf cartel), the Beltran Leyva organization and the Carrillo Fuentes organization (also known as the Juarez cartel) have contributed to 6,000 drug-related deaths last year in the Mexican state of Chihuahua where Ciudad Juarez is.

Last week President Felipe Calderon ordered 5,000 Mexican army federales into Ciudad Juarez by air and land to wrest control from the drug lords and restore a semblance of order. Unfortunately, many times, the drug lords and their cohorts are dressed as federales, too.

The massive buildup is only a band-aide to the root cause - the profitability of supplying narcotics to meet US demand. A recent report estimates drug profits at $50 million to $70 million in protection payments from farmers and another $200 million to $400 million from "taxing" drug processing and trafficking in 2008 on top of the multi-billion dollar enterprise.

US Security Impact

The Mexican drug battle royale is not confined within its borders. From assassinations in Phoenix, Arizona, to related violence across the border to El Paso, Texas, from Ciudad Juarez, border state governors fret the spillover effect. Texas has already made emergency plans as a consequence.

Travel warnings for spring breakers is a symptom of the larger problem confronting Mexico and the US. Many believe the drug war has to be tackled on a social, economic, and security front to avoid a narcostate on the US southern border and the attendant consequences of a collapse of order in the hemisphere's third most populated country.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Colombia's Uribe Moves Forward



Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe seems destined for a historic third term as president of the South American Andean country.

A year ago in a daring dash across the border with Ecuador, Colombian military units raided a FARC base killing a top lieutenant and propagandist striking again in the inner circle of the implacable Marxist rebel group which has waged a war with Bogota for over 40 years, the longest running guerrilla war in Latin America.

A treasure trove of internal documents contained on three laptops grabbed during the incursion gave proof positive of support by Ecuador and Venezuela of the FARC, an embarrassment for both governments. While Venezuela's Hugo Chavez broke ties with Bogota, the two big trading partners have patched up differences for now.

Ecuador's Rafael Correa, in whose country was implicated in giving aid and comfort to the rebels including direct meetings, has demanded certain conditions before considering reestablishing ties. Colombia has paid little price for striking against the FARC in Ecuador.


President Uribe's steel nerve to defeat the FARC rebellion, restoring government control over more of the countryside, promoting a strong economy and fomenting a greater sense of security has generated an approval rating topping 80%. Last July, in an apparent flawless mission, a group of Americans and international darling Ingrid Betancourt were successfully freed after government troops tricked their FARC captors into releasing them.

Colombia is a firm US ally in the war on narcoterrorism and narcotrafficking despite recent Supreme Court decisions which may imperil future extraditions.


While rumors of paramilitary links persist, President Uribe has reset the table in Colombia for a generation. While his predecessors bowed before the FARC threat or were too comfortable with the narco factions, his first two terms in office have been a success.

Now the people of Colombia must decide by referendum if a third term, if he so desires, is merited.

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Rocky Russian Road Ahead

Nice Try

US Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton met her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Geneva this week to "reset" the two countries' relations.

The "reset button" (see picture) however was enclosed in a gift box with the Russian word for "overcharge," not "reset."

Thus, the first high level tête-à-tête between the world's remaining superpower and former superpower was a bust despite diplomatic niceties.

The road ahead for US-Russian relations is unlikely to be smooth.


Significant issues divide the US and Russia and to pretend otherwise is dangerous.

Moscow is a strategic competitor of Washington. The faster the new Obama Aministration grasps that reality the better. Cooperation will be limited.

The siloviki (literally, "men of power") is engaged in an ambitious worldwide energy gambit to gain more profits and exercise economic control over dependent trading partners as an instrument of its international policy. Russia is run like a giant corporation.

The war in Georgia is an extreme example as Moscow eyes the strategic Caucasus region as its backyard and wants to control the pipeline routes for energy. The yearly dust up with Ukraine over gas supplies reverberated across a shivering EU last February.

However, Moscow has a glaring weakness: the price of oil is a key determinant in its confidence and ability to pursue its aggressive economic policy abroad. About 85% of its income is based on the export of oil and gas. Oil currently at $45 a barrel is a problem for Moscow.

Rebuke on Iran

President Medvedev's sharp "nyet" (no) to President Obama on linking the proposed US missile shield in Europe to more cooperation on taming Iran's nuclear ambitions is a recent example of great divergences of opinion between Moscow and Washington.

If a nuclear Iran on its southern flank does not concern Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin, it is very difficult to believe most other issues will as well. Again, Russia's complex economic relationship with Iran trumps cooperation with the US.

Review, not reset

The new Obama Administration needs deep thinkers on the future of US-Russian relations. A bottom-up review is required. Photo ops and symbolic gifts (with the wrong translation) show naivete at best.

Again, the new Administration believes on many fronts its unilateral gestures of goodwill and good feelings will be reciprocated by those whose interests it is not to reciprocate. Statecraft relying on the mercy of others is bound to fail.

So far, a rocky road lies ahead for Washington (not just in Russian affairs) until a clearly defined policy based on its social, economic, and political interests is declared and pursued. A policy based more on personality (the Bush way) than national interest is discouraged.

The secretary of state should study before taking the next flight abroad.

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