U.S. and Gulf Allies Pursue a Missile Shield Against Iranian Attack
Thom Shanker, New York Times – August 8, 2012
The United States and its Arab allies are knitting together a regional missile defense system across the Persian Gulf to protect cities, oil refineries, pipelines and military bases from an Iranian attack, according to government officials and public documents. It is an enterprise that is meant to send a pointed message to Tehran, and that becomes more urgent as tensions with Iran rise. But it will require partner nations in the gulf to put aside rivalries, share information and coordinate their individual arsenals of interceptor missiles to create a defensive shield encompassing all the regional allies.
Op-Ed: Israel’s diplomatic scare game
Trita Parsi, Salon – August 8, 2012
Israel has succeeded in convincing Washington to adopt an unprecedented level of sanctions on Iran – the toughest sanctions the U.S. “has ever imposed on any country during peacetime,” according to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee – by threatening unilateral military action if it didn’t. Yet, in spite of moving the U.S. and the EU deep into a sanctions-centric policy on Iran (Israeli officials credit themselves for this development), Israel has not relented on its threats to take military action and is even dismissive of the very sanctions they pushed the U.S. to implement.
Op-Ed: What Syria Looks Like From Tehran
Harvey Morris, New York Times – August 8, 2012
Before rushing to judgment on Iran’s latest expression of solidarity with the embattled regime in Syria, it is worth considering how the conflict looks from Tehran. In the 33-year history of Iran’s Islamic Republic, Syria is the only state to have consistently stood by it while hostile neighbors and outside powers conspired to bring about its downfall.
US Nuclear Security
New security leaders at Tenn nuclear weapons plant; protesters broke into high-security area
Associated Press – August 8, 2012
The security contractor at a Tennessee plant that stores the nation’s supply of weapons-grade uranium has replaced its general manager almost two weeks after three protesters, including an 82-year-old nun, got into a high-security area. Security firm WSI Oak Ridge confirmed to The Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/MqW3ex) Wednesday that Steven C. Hafner is taking over the position from Lee Brooks.
Defense contractors downsized in good times, report finds
Eric Katz, Government Executive – August 8, 2012
The defense industry and Republican lawmakers have for months complained that sequestration — across-the-board budget cuts scheduled to begin on Jan. 2, 2013, and expected to hit the Defense Department especially hard — would devastate private contracting companies, forcing mass layoffs when the economy could least afford them. A new report from a good government group, however, shows the industry has seen significant job losses during the past several years, even as the federal government shoveled more and more money to Defense contractors. The findings may suggest government spending and the contractor workforce are not as tightly correlated as sequestration critics fear.
US Nuclear Facilities
Strategic Command Chief: Outlines of Plutonium Plan Taking Form
Elaine M. Grossman, Global Security Newswire – August 8, 2012
The outlines of a revamped strategy for supplying the nation’s military with plutonium cores for nuclear warheads are taking shape, according to the top officer at U.S. Strategic Command. “I do think that we are beginning to close [in] on a way ahead here that will [give us] sufficient interim capability while we look to get the long-term solution back on track,” Gen. Robert Kehler, who commands the military organization charged with overseeing any combat use of atomic arms, said during a Wednesday press conference.
Afghan civilian casualties fall 15 percent in first half of year
Mirwais Harooni, Chicago Tribune – August 8, 2012
Civilian casualties in Afghanistan dropped 15 percent in the first six months of the year, despite a recent surge in militant attacks, with deaths blamed on NATO-led troops and Afghan forces declining sharply, the United Nations said on Wednesday.
Fatal Attack Shows Plan To Unsettle Afghanistan
Alissa Rubin, New York Times – August 8, 2012
Three NATO soldiers and an Afghan civilian were killed Wednesday in a suicide attack in the middle of the provincial capital of Kunar Province in eastern Afghanistan. The attack, in which two bombers detonated suicide vests as soldiers were patrolling near the provincial council’s office, occurred just a few days after the Taliban made a show of force in Kunar, a rugged border province that has been one of the most hard-fought regions for the American military…The transition of Kunar’s security to Afghan control is happening more gradually than in some other provinces, and the nature of the recent attacks shows why, in part: despite years of intensive coalition military offensives in some parts of the region, militants pose a perpetual threat, even in the provincial capital, Asadabad.
Missile Defense Agency May Go in New Direction With New Chief, Advocate Says
Rachel Oswald, Global Security Newswire – August 8, 2012
The Obama administration’s nomination last week of an admiral to head the U.S. Missile Defense Agency has issue observers wondering if new leadership could lead to new operational focuses for the organization.
Agni-II successfully test-fired
Y. Mallikarjun and T.S. Subramanian, The Hindu – August 8, 2012
India successfully test-fired nuclear weapons capable strategic ballistic missile, Agni-II, for its full range of more than 2,000 km from Wheeler Island off the Odisha Coast on Thursday. The launch was carried out by Strategic Force Command personnel from a mobile launcher. The Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile, which carried a dummy payload of 1,000 kg, was fired at 8.46 a.m. from a rail mobile launcher.