Iran deputy foreign minister resigns amid pressure
Ali Akbar Dareini, AP – June 21, 2011
Iran’s newly appointed deputy foreign minister has resigned under pressure from hardliners who view him as part of a movement seeking to weaken the role of Iran’s powerful Muslim clerics, reports say. The dispute over Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh is part of a burgeoning power struggle involving President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the parliament and the country’s clergy. While Malekzadeh faces corruption charges, the opposition to his appointment appeared more ideological.
Iran shipping line charged in US over arms
Kara Scannell, Financial Times – June 20, 2011
New York authorities have filed criminal charges against an Iranian shipping company they accuse of trafficking weapons, along with several companies and people who allegedly used multiple corporate aliases to evade US economic sanctions that ban dealings with US financial institutions. The 317-count indictment, filed by the New York County district attorney’s office, is aimed at disabling Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, Iran’s largest maritime shipping company. US officials allege it is a conduit for Iran’s ballistic missile programme and the main facilitator of its procurement activities.
Iran frees jailed human rights activist
AFP – June 21, 2011
TEHRAN — Iran has freed human rights campaigner Emadeddin Baghi after he served a year-long jail term on charges of spreading “propaganda against the regime,” Arman daily reported Tuesday, quoting his lawyer. The award-winning journalist was arrested on December 28, 2009, a day after opposition supporters took to the streets in a new round of protests against the controversial June 12 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Iran’s nuke chief critiques IAEA
George Jahn, Associated Press – June 20, 2011
VIENNA (AP) — A top Iranian official told the International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday to focus on nuclear safety rather than “baseless and marginal issues” — an expression of unhappiness with attempts to probe charges that Tehran wants nuclear arms. Fereidoun Abbasi’s comments to a high-level meeting on improving nuclear safe practices reflected Iran’s dissatisfaction with IAEA chief Yukiya Amano for making the Iran investigation a top priority of the agency. It contrasted sharply with other statements on the opening day of the conference that were restricted to the meeting’s agenda — tightening and improving nuclear safety in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster.
North Korea recruits hackers at school
Sangwon Yoon, Aljazeera – June 20, 2011
As South Korea blames North Korea for a recent slew of cyberattacks, two defectors share their experiences, as a hacker and trainer of “cyberwarriors” in the reclusive communist country, with Al Jazeera shedding some light into the inner workings of the North’s cyberwarfare programme. In the process, Kim Heung-kwang and Jang Se-yul also warn of the regime’s concentrated efforts to bolster its cyberwarfare capabilities.
Defectors report N.Korea jail abuse
Straits Times – June 21, 2011
SEOUL – A GROUP of 14 North Korean defectors on Tuesday filed a petition with South Korea’s human rights watchdog over abuses they allegedly suffered in two North Korean prisons, a spokesman said. The petition comes as Seoul’s National Human Rights Commission collects cases of human rights violations in the communist state as part of a campaign to improve rights conditions in the North.
North Korea ‘buys anti-riot gear from China’
Lucy Williamson, BBC News – June 21, 2011
North Korea has bought large amounts of anti-riot equipment from China in recent months, South Korea’s main news agency says. This was apparently to prepare for possible unrest in the country, it said. The Yonhap news agency said Pyongyang had created a special police force; it had also considered buying flak jackets and other anti-riot equipment. The United Nations says North Korea is facing severe food shortages.
Obama to Announce Plans for Afghan Surge Pullout
Mark Landler and Helene Cooper, New York Times – June 20, 2011
WASHINGTON — President Obama plans to announce his decision on the scale and pace of troop withdrawals from Afghanistan in a speech on Wednesday evening, an administration official said Monday. As he closes in on a decision, another official said, Mr. Obama is considering options that range from a Pentagon-backed proposal to pull out only 5,000 troops this year to an aggressive plan to withdraw within 12 months all 30,000 troops the United States deployed to Afghanistan as part of the surge in December 2009.
Risks of Reversing the Afghanistan Surge
David E. Sanger, New York Times – June 19, 2011
WASHINGTON — In the 18 months since President Obama ordered a surge of 30,000 troops into Afghanistan, he has scaled back, time and again, Washington’s goals in a country that the British, the Soviets and ultimately the Americans tried, and failed, to change. Now, as he enters the last few days of decision-making about how fast to bring those surge troops home, that relentless narrowing of objectives has boiled down to one central measurement: Whether Al Qaeda is capable of again mounting an attack on the United States from Afghanistan, the origin of the 9/11 attacks, or from the nearby mountains of Pakistan.
Senate Panel Authorizes Nuclear Stockpile, Nonproliferation Funding
Global Security Newswire – June 20, 2011
The Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday approved legislation that authorizes funding for various U.S. nuclear stockpile and nonproliferation operations. The fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill covers Defense Department spending and the Energy Department’s national-security activities. It allows for certain expenses, but actual funding amounts are included in separate appropriations bills.
Obama Extends National Emergency on Russian Nuke Material
Global Security Newswire – June 20, 2011
President Obama has ordered a one-year extension of the U.S. national emergency first declared in 2000 over Russian atomic material suitable for use in nuclear weapons. Obama submitted a notice of the extension for publication in the Federal Register.