Iranian Company Charged With Tricking U.S. Banks
Jo Becker, New York Times – June 20, 2011
An Iranian government-owned shipping line that the United States believes is integral to Iran’s efforts to obtain banned technology for its nuclear and missile programs has illegally funneled tens of millions of dollars in financial transactions through the American banking system over the past three years, evading sanctions by cloaking itself in corporate alter egos and falsifying records, according to an indictment that the Manhattan district attorney plans to unseal on Monday.
IRAN: Detained American hikers to be tried on 2nd anniversary of their arrest
Ramin Mostaghim, LA Times – June 20, 2011
Two American hikers taken into custody in 2009 on charges of espionage for crossing into Iran from Iraqi Kurdistan are to stand trial July 31, the second anniversary of their arrest, their lawyer said Monday. Berkeley grads Joshua Fattal, Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd were arrested by Iranian forces after allegedy crossing into Iran during a hiking trip. Shourd was later released on $500,000 bail in September 2010, and continues to fight for Fattal and Bauer’s freedom.
Iran FM threatened with impeachment
Farhad Pouladi, AFP – June 19, 2011
TEHRAN — A number of Iranian MPs threatened on Sunday to impeach Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi for appointing an aide to the president’s underfire chief of staff as one of his deputies. Salehi on Saturday appointed Mohammad Sahrif Malekzadeh as a deputy foreign minister in charge of administrative and financial affairs. Malekzadeh was a top official in the high council of Iranian affairs abroad, run by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, whom ultra-conservatives accuse of aiming to undermine the Islamic regime.
Gates: Iran supplying arms to Iraqi Shiite groups
AP – June 19, 2011
WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Robert Gates says Shiite extremists, not al-Qaida terrorists, are to blame for most of the recent U.S. military deaths in Iraq, and they’re “clearly getting some fairly sophisticated and powerful weapons” from Iran. Gates tells CNN’s “State of the Union” that he’s worried about the Iranian influence in Iraq and he thinks Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is beginning to take these Shiite groups seriously.
‘No need for tactical nukes on peninsula’
Song Sang-ho, Korea Herald – June 20, 2011
USFK commander says timing of Seoul’s defense reform efforts is ‘right.’ U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Walter Sharp said Monday that tactical nuclear weapons do not need to be redeployed here, underscoring the U.S. security commitment to South Korea. With the North continuing to launch military provocations, some here have raised the need to station U.S. nuclear weapons here, all of which were withdrawn after the two Koreas adopted a joint declaration on the denuclearization in 1991.
US predicts more North Korea strikes
Mark Willacy, ABC News – June 20, 2011
The commander of United States forces in South Korea has warned the communist North is likely to launch more military strikes against Seoul. Tensions have been rising on the Korean peninsula over the past month. The commander of the 28,000 US troops stationed in South Korea, General Walter Sharp, has told a forum in Seoul that North Korea is likely to launch military attacks against the South. But he says Seoul and Washington are better prepared to counter the threat.
UN official calls for North Korea aid
AFP – June 17, 2011
SYDNEY — A senior United Nations official on Friday called for urgent aid to North Korea, pleading with international donors to overlook political difficulties in the face of a humanitarian crisis.
Valerie Amos, head of the UN Office of Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs, said of the estimated US$210 million needed to confront dire food shortages in the communist state, only about 15 percent had been pledged.
U.S. Pressing Its Crackdown Against Leaks
Scott Shane, New York Times – June 17, 2011
WASHINGTON — Stephen J. Kim, an arms expert who immigrated from South Korea as a child, spent a decade briefing top government officials on the dangers posed by North Korea. Then last August he was charged with violating the Espionage Act — not by aiding some foreign adversary, but by revealing classified information to a Fox News reporter. Stephen Kim, an arms expert, is accused of violating the Espionage Act by giving classified information to a reporter. Mr. Kim’s case is next in line in the Obama administration’s unprecedented crackdown on leaks, after the crumbling last week of the case against a former National Security Agency official, Thomas A. Drake.
Lashing Out, Karzai Says U.S. Is Talking to the Taliban
Rod Nordland, New York Times – June 18, 2011
KABUL, Afghanistan — President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan said publicly for the first time on Saturday that the United States and the NATO-led coalition have been actively negotiating with the Taliban, an assertion he made in a speech that he also used to fire a broadside against his coalition allies. Mr. Karzai denied earlier reports — including some based on his own statements — that his government was negotiating with Taliban leaders, but he said the Americans were doing so.
Few Taliban Leaders Take Afghan Offer to Switch Sides
Alissa J. Rubin, New York Times – June 19, 2011
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Toor Jan, who used to kill Americans and Canadians here, does not want much from the Afghan government. A home. A job. And, yes, eight security guards. He needs them. As one of the few Taliban commanders to switch sides, he is a target. Toor Jan’s switch may represent a hopeful sign for the government’s plan to reintegrate the Taliban into Afghan society — but it is also a rarity. Of the 1,700 fighters who have enrolled in the 10-month-old program, only a handful are midlevel commanders, and two-thirds are from the north, where the insurgency is much weaker than in the south, said Maj. Gen. Phil Jones, the director of a NATO unit that is monitoring the program.