July 12, 2010 - No. 130
Alarming U.S. War Preparations in Asia
Submarines Reach Asian Ports - Li Jing, Global Times
• Japan Takes a Shot at China -- via Taiwan
- Jens Kastner and Wang Jyh-Perng, Asia Times Online
• China Denounces U.S. Sanctions
• U.S./Israeli Threats of Nuclear War
• IAEA to Keep Heat on Iran - Gareth
Porter, Asia Times Online
• Vindication of DPRK at UN Security Council
• UN Command Considers DPRK Offer of Talks
• South Korean Government Protests Russia's
Conflicting Cheonan Findings
U.S. Submarines Reach Asian Ports
Three of the largest submarines of the U.S. Seventh
surfaced in Asia-Pacific ports last week, the South China Morning Post
reported on July 5.
The appearance of the USS Michigan in Pusan,
South Korea, the USS Ohio in Subic Bay, the Philippines, and
the USS Florida in the strategic Indian Ocean outpost of
Diego Garcia was a show of force not seen since the end of the Cold
War, the paper said, adding
that the position of those three ports looks like a siege of China.
The report came as the U.S. and South Korea announced
early June a joint military exercise in the Yellow Sea amid mounting
tension on the Korean Peninsula.
On June 28, South Korea postponed the anti-submarine
drill, originally planned to run last month, to July, to ensure US
attendance, globalresearch.ca reported.
Beijing has objected to the proposed war game that may
involve U.S. carriers. General Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of general
of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), said that the location
of the drill is very close to Chinese territorial waters.
Xu Guangyu, a senior researcher at the China Arms
Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times that the
alleged military operation would not only escalate tension between the
two Koreas, but also exert negative influence on Sino- US military
"The joint military drill is not an irreplaceable
measure for Washington to support Seoul on punishing Pyongyang over the
alleged torpedoing of the warship Cheonan," he said.
"China's position on the Yellow Sea issue demonstrates
its resolution to safeguard national rights and interests," said Xu
Guangqian, a military strategist at the PLA Academy of Military
Sciences. "It also reflects that China is increasingly aware of the
fact that its strategic space has confronted threats
from other countries."
Meanwhile, the U.S. strengthened its relations with
allied countries in the Pacific region by conducting another war game.
The Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC 2010), which is
hosted and managed by the U.S. Navy, launched June 23 as ships,
and military personnel from 14 nations poured into Pearl Harbor,
Hawaii, to participate, suite101.com reported.
The exercises will be conducted until August 1.
Meanwhile, Russia's Vostok-2010 military exercises in
Siberia and the country's far east kicked off June 29 and will continue
until July 8.
Analysts suggest that the concentration of military
drills at the current time is not just a coincidence, but represents
the uneasiness of some regional powers amid the rise of China.
Begin RIMPAC Exercises - Gidget Fuentes, Navy Times
Japan Takes a Shot at China -- via Taiwan
Japan has extended its Air Defense Identification Zone
(ADIZ) near Taiwan in the East China Sea without consulting Taiwanese
authorities in advance. Taiwan's Kuomintang (KMT) government has
condemned Japan's unilateral move in a tone unusually firm compared
with previous Taiwanese administrations
that dealt with similar issues.
Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs vowed not to make
any concessions on what it called a "matter of national sovereignty."
Members of Taiwan's opposition camp see Japan's ADIZ
extension in a different light. To them, the affair signifies that
Japan doesn't trust Taiwan anymore. According to the opponents of
incumbent Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou's cross-strait policy, the
KMT not only distances Taiwan ever farther from Washington and Tokyo
but is also using the ADIZ issue to deliberately incite anti-Japanese
sentiment among the Taiwanese to appease Beijing.
These are weighty allegations, and independent
observers don't share the opposition's opinion. To them, it also seems
plausible that Ma's government's strongly opposed Tokyo's move, but for
"It wasn't the KMT government's plan to stir up
Taiwan's public opinion against the Japanese," said Lin Cheng-Yi, a
researcher on international relations at Taiwan's Academia Sinicia, in
an interview with Asia Times Online. "The Taiwanese
government is worried over China's reaction,
so it doesn't want to appear as being too soft on Japan."
A look out of the box of Taiwan's partisan politics
reveals that Japan isn't short of motives to step up its military
presence in the East China Sea other than to react to the KMT's
An ADIZ is an area where civilian and military aircraft
are required to identify themselves. Aircraft entering the zone are
obliged to radio their intended flight course to the respective
country's air traffic controllers. The boundary between the Japanese
and the Taiwanese ADIZs over the East China
Sea used to be over a little island named Yonaguni.
Yonaguni is the western-most island of Japan and lies
180 kilometers from the Taiwanese east coast. The ADIZ line, which has
defined two-thirds of Yonganui's airspace as being Taiwanese and one
third as Japanese, was drawn by the U.S. military after World War II.
On June 26, Japan unilaterally extended the ADIZ line
westwards by 22 kilometers. As a result, Taiwanese and Japanese AIDZs
now overlap. That Tokyo seems willing to put up with the prospect of
doing damage to Taiwan-Japan relations shows how much it worries about
China's military activities
in the East China Sea. At least three disputed economically and
militarily important areas lie in this part of the Pacific Ocean.
The roots of the Sino-Japan East China Sea conflict lie
in the cryptic wording of the "Preamble to the United Nations
Convention on the Law of the Sea, Article 76." There, it is stated that
"The continental shelf of a coastal state comprises the seabed and
subsoil of the submarine areas that extend beyond
its territorial sea throughout the natural prolongation of its land
territory to the outer edge of the continental margin, or to a distance
of 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the
territorial sea is measured where the outer edge of the continental
margin does not extend up to that distance."
According to China, the Okinawa Trough, an arc-shaped
ocean trench that runs from southwestern Japan to northeastern Taiwan,
separates China's and Japan's continental shelves. Beijing therefore
claims that its territorial waters extend to the trough's center line.
To Japan on the other hand, the Okinawa
Trough is nothing but an "accidental depression" in the ocean floor and
not the clear-cut boundary between continental shelves as China claims.
Therefore, according to Tokyo's logic, it's the "200 nautical miles"
mentioned in Article 76 that define the edges of China's territorial
waters in the East China Sea.
The knowledge that the few kilometers where waters
claimed by both Beijing and Tokyo overlap not only hold large reserves
of oil, gas and fish but also are of strategic importance has been
fueling the dispute. In recent years, both sides have significantly
increased their military presence in the region.
Among the areas that have for a long time been in focus
of Sino-Japanese contests are the oil and natural gas fields in the
Xihu depression, located around 400km east of Shanghai in the East
China Sea Basin. From the 1980s on, the fields have provided greater
Shanghai with gas for public and industrial
use. The fields have undergone further development to cater to the
self-supply economy model pursued by the Chinese government.
Japan claims the area to belong to its own exclusive
economic zone (EEZ) and therefore regards the Chinese extraction of oil
and gas reserves as a large-scale theft of its resources.
Another disputed area is the sea near Okinotorishima, a
reef far east of Taiwan and roughly 1,700km south of Tokyo. There,
within the past 18 months, the Chinese navy has appeared three times.
Japan claims to have the right to establish an EEZ around the reef.
China acknowledges Japan's territorial
rights to Okinotorishima itself, but unlike Japan, Beijing regards it
as rocks, not as an islet.
Here again the United Nations Convention of the Law of
the Sea comes into the game. Its hallmark misinterpretation states that
"rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their
own shall have no exclusive economic zone." Ironically, the question
whether or not a rock can sustain
human habitation or economic life seems left to be answered by the very
countries involved in the respective disputes.
In June 2009, China's navy approached Okinotorishima
with a missile destroyer, a supply ship, a support ship and two
frigates. In April 2010, a fleet consisting of two guided missile
destroyers, three frigates, two Kilo-class submarines and one supply
ship crossed the line between Okinawa and Miyako
Island, home to popular Japanese beach resorts. Then, in proximity to
the Okinotorishima reef, the Chinese held sea-air joint anti-submarine
warfare drills, and China's ship-borne helicopters once came as close
as 90 meters to a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ship. In military
terms, this is very near.
After the incidents, Japanese media suspected China of
having plans to solve the Okinotorishima dispute once and for all by
blowing up the uninhabited reef with the use of special forces, naval
guns or a missile attack.
A look at the map reveals that it's not primarily fish
and oil that attracts China's navy to the area -- Okinotorishima lies
midway between Taiwan and Guam, which is home to a U.S. naval base.
Japan believes China's ships mapped the ocean's bottom over which the
U.S. Pacific Fleet in future conflicts
would pass on its way to Taiwan.
Also a major point of contention are the Diaoyu Islands
-- called Senkaku Islands in Japanese -- which are divided from Okinawa
by the Okinawa Trough. The islands are controlled by the Japanese. An
estimated three to seven billion tons of oil are hidden under the ocean
floor around Diaoyu, and
fishery experts count on an annual catch of 150,000 tons.
Apart from this, Diaoyu is a sensitive spot in Japan's
1,000 nautical mile defense line since the foothold enables the Japan
Self-Defense Forces to push forward more than 300km southwest. The
islands are considered an ideal location to draw fire off Japan proper
in the event of an outbreak of war
in the East China Sea.
Japan regards Diaoyu as suitable for stationing
electronic detection devices and ground-to-air missiles. It is further
believed that the U.S. and Japan plan to turn Diaoyu into an
operational outpost of their joint ballistic missile defense system.
To protect its control over Diaoyu, Japan goes to great
lengths. In Japan's Coast Guard District Number 1 on Okinawa, no fewer
than 20 warships are stationed, five of which belong to the Kiloton
class. Japan's aircraft patrol the area every morning and afternoon,
sometimes even three times a day.
On the nearby Miyako and Kume islands, radar stations have been built
which double-monitor Diaoyu.
The Chinese side, however, doesn't seem too impressed
with Japan's military buildup. As was the case in the waters around
Okinotorishima, the Diaoyu Islands have been witnessing China's
military showing off increased self-confidence. In 2008, China's
coastguard fleet and J-10 fighters patrolled
around Diaoyu, and in 2009 two Chinese J-10 fighters expelled three
Japanese F-2s. Earlier this year, a Chinese Oceanic Administration's
research vessel came close to a Japanese coastguard ship and followed
it for almost four hours.
From a Japanese perspective, China has been challenging
Japan's interests in the East China Sea in ever-shorter intervals.
China's navy has been coming closer and closer and has crossed sea
lines considered sensitive by Japan. It's obvious that Japan's
extension of its ADIZ is to be seen in the context
of the complicated East China Sea sovereignty disputes. Tokyo's choice
to go ahead with the extension without consulting Taiwan's authorities
is revealing since it demonstrates that Japan worries to a high degree.
a recent extension of the ADIZ over the entire island of Yonaguni,
Japan has a freer hand in monitoring
the Diaoyu Islands and even the oilfields in the Xihu depression. The
deployment of significant fire power on Yonaguni has also become an
That the Taiwanese have seen their sovereignty
infringed by Japan's actions in the East China Sea is something that
has happened in the past. From Lee Teng-hui over Chen Shui-bian to the
incumbent Taiwanese president Ma -- all had reasons to complain about
Japanese unilateral moves conducted
in that part of the Pacific Ocean.
Yet, previous and present-day Taiwanese administrations
handled the matter differently. As Academy Sinicia researcher Lin puts
it, "The problems with the Japanese aren't new, and they have always
been raised by the Taiwanese. However, under Taiwan's administrations
that were pro-Japanese, there
was no urgent need to solve them."
China Denounces U.S. Sanctions
China is said to have criticized the United States for
imposing unilateral sanctions against Iran, saying Washington should
not act outside UN resolutions. The U.S. move came after the UN
Security Council imposed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran over
the country's nuclear program.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a
July 5 press conference, "China supports the UN sanctions. China
believes that countries should have correct implementation of the
sanctions instead of expanding the sanctions."
China, a long-time trade partner of Iran, did not
exercise its veto power to block the UN's resolution for sanctions
against Tehran, saying the sanctions' aim is to facilitate a diplomatic
solution to Iran's nuclear issue. Qin repeated that China believes
talks were the best way to resolve the standoff over
Iran's nuclear program.
In related news, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed
Jalili announced on July 6 that Iran can resume nuclear talks as of
September 1 if specific conditions are met, the official IRNA news
In a published letter responding to an offer for talks
from the European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (who is
acting as the negotiator between Iran and the G5+1 -- the five
members of UN Security Council plus Germany) Jalili said, "In order to
initiate the talks your answer to the
three following questions is needed."
"Is the objective of the resumption of the talks
cooperation or the continuation of enmity with Iranians' rights?
"Are you committed to the logic of the talks which
necessitates avoiding threats and pressures [on Iran]?
"In order to clarify the basics of the bilateral talks,
what is [the West's] position concerning the Zionist regime's nuclear
"Your response to the above-mentioned questions can pave
the ground for the talks to remove the common global concerns over
[failures in] establishing peace, justice and well-being for the
nations," Jalili maintained.
If and when Iran's questions are given an appropriate
response, interested countries can take part in the nuclear talks
between Iran and the West, the letter stated.
"Today, more than ever, you need our nation's trust in
you. Therefore, drop the wrong 'dual-strategy' of imposing sanctions
and calling for talks and compensate for your last mistakes," Jalili
said in the letter.
According to the letter, the conditions laid out were
already set by President Ahmadinejad. In June, the
president said Iran would postpone nuclear talks with the West to late
August to punish the West for imposing economic sanctions on the
country, as well as saying that Iran would
include Turkey and Brazil in forthcoming nuclear fuel swap talks.
In related news, Iran's Fars news agency reported on
July 8 that the Bushehr nuclear
power plant will start operations in September as announced by Ali
Akbar Salehi, director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. The
plant was the first one built under the Iran'speaceful nuclear
program. Initially constructed by a German firm, the facility was
destroyed during the Iranian-Iraqi war in the 1980s and later rebuilt
with Russiam technology.
U.S./Israeli Threats of Nuclear War
President Barack Obama on July 6 met with Israeli Prime
Netanyahu at the White House. Their discussions are said to have
addressed Israel's security, Iran and nuclear weapons and peace talks
between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Both Obama and Netanyahu
spoke to the "excellent" character
of the discussion.
The Readout of the meeting by the White House
absolutely clear that Obama has no intention of getting Israel to admit
to its nuclear weapons or come under the authority of the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Obama emphasized in his remarks July 6,
"The bond between
the United States and Israel is unbreakable. It encompasses our
national security interests, our strategic interests, but most
importantly, the bond of two democracies who share a common set of
values and whose people have grown closer and closer as time goes on."
Netanyahu added, "We have an enduring bond of values,
beginning with security and the way that we share both information and
other things to help the common defense of our common interests -- and
many others in the region who don't often admit to the beneficial
effect of this cooperation.
The President said it best in his speech in Cairo. He said in front of
the entire Islamic world, he said, the bond between Israel and the
United States is unbreakable. And I can affirm that to you today."
Contrary to demanding Israel come under the NPT, Obama
the green light to commit crimes against the peace in the name that
this is required to defend its security. He threatens that the U.S.
will back Israel up emphasizing, "The United States is committed
to Israel's security; we are committed to that special bond; and we are
going to do what's required to back that up, not just in words but with
The Readout said, "The President reaffirmed
States' unshakeable commitment to Israel's security, and the leaders
reviewed the significant progress made in recent months to expand
coordination between our militaries, to preserve and strengthen
Israel's qualitative military edge,
and to fortify Israel's ballistic missile defenses, including through
additional U.S. financial support for Iron Dome [which provides
increased anti-missile and missile capabilities in Israel -- TML ed.].
The President told the Prime Minister he recognizes that Israel must
always have the ability to defend
itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of
threats, and that only Israel can determine its security needs. The
President pledged to continue U.S. efforts to combat all international
attempts to challenge the legitimacy of the State of Israel."
All of this then is focused on targeting Iran.
Netanyahu said, "The
President and I had an extensive, excellent discussion in which we
discussed a broad range of issues. These include of course our own
cooperation in the fields of intelligence and security. And exactly as
the President said, it is extensive.
Not everything is seen by the public, but it is seen and appreciated by
us. We understand fully that we will work together in the coming months
and years to protect our common interests, our countries, our peoples,
against new threats.The greatest new threat on the horizon, the single
most dominant issue for many
of us, is the prospect that Iran would acquire nuclear weapons. Iran is
brutally terrorizing its people, spreading terrorism far and wide. And
I very much appreciate the President's statement that he is determined
to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons."
In speaking further about Iran, the Readout
President and the Prime Minister reiterated their strong support for
the adoption of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929 and the
additional U.S. sanctions against Iran." Obama said, "We have
instituted through the U.N. Security
Council the toughest sanctions ever directed at an Iranian government.
In addition, last week I signed our own set of sanctions, coming out of
the United States Congress, as robust as any that we've ever seen.
Other countries are following suit. And so we intend to continue to put
pressure on Iran to meet its international
obligations and to cease the kinds of provocative behavior that has
made it a threat to its neighbors and the international community."
Netanyahu added, "I think the latest sanctions adopted
by the U.N.
create illegitimacy or create de-legitimization for Iran's nuclear
program, and that is important. I think the sanctions the President
signed the other day actually have teeth. They bite. The question is --
how much do you need to bite is
something I cannot answer now."
Nuclear weapons were specifically addressed. This
proposals from the recent Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT)
Conference that Israel sign the NPT and submit its nuclear weapons
program to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Iran is already a signatory
to the NPT and its General Director recently issued the 22nd Report
saying there is no evidence of any military program by Iran. The
Conference also proposed a Middle East Conference to discuss
establishment of a nuclear-weapons free zone for the Middle East,
something which Iran also supports. Israel and the
U.S. do not.
In speaking to the NPT conference, Obama said, "We
that arose out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Conference. And I
reiterated to the Prime Minister that there is no change in U.S. policy
when it comes to these issues. We strongly believe that, given its
size, its history, the region
that it's in, and the threats that are leveled against us -- against
that Israel has unique security requirements. It's got to be able to
respond to threats or any combination of threats in the region. And
that's why we remain unwavering in our commitment to Israel's security.
And the United States will never ask Israel
to take any steps that would undermine their security interests."
The Readout elaborated on this further
President and the Prime Minister discussed the global challenge of
nuclear proliferation and the need to strengthen the nonproliferation
system. They also exchanged views on the regional conference to discuss
a Middle East zone free
of weapons of mass destruction and systems for their delivery
referenced in the 2010 NPT Review Conference final document. The
President informed the Prime Minister that, as a cosponsor charged with
enabling the proposed conference, the United States will insist that
such a conference will be for discussion aimed
at an exchange of views on a broad agenda, to include regional security
issues, verification and compliance, and all categories of weapons of
mass destruction and systems for their delivery. The President
emphasized that the conference will only take place if all countries
feel confident that they can attend, and that
any efforts to single out Israel will make the prospects of convening
such a conference unlikely. In this regard, the two leaders also agreed
to work together to oppose efforts to single out Israel at the IAEA
General Conference in September. The President emphasized that the
United States will continue its long standing
practice to work closely with Israel to ensure that arms control
initiatives and policies do not detract from Israel's security, and
support our common efforts to strengthen international peace and
stability." In this manner Obama made clear U.S. support for Israel's
nuclear weapons and potential use of them. This includes
recently sending Israel nuclear-weapons related materials to upgrade
Addressing U.S. efforts to organize peace talks between
the Palestine Authority, President Obama said, "We've seen real
progress on the ground [in Gaza]. And we believe that there is a way
to make sure that the people of Gaza are able to prosper economically,
while Israel is able to maintain
its legitimate security needs in not allowing missiles and weapons to
get to Hamas." He said Netanyahu is "willing to take risks for peace."
He added, "I think it's very important that the Palestinians not look
for excuses for incitement, that they are not engaging in provocative
language; that at the international level,
they are maintaining a constructive tone, as opposed to looking for
opportunities to embarrass Israel."
Obama spoke to Netanyahu's "Willingness to engage in
negotiations with the Palestinians around what I think should be the
goal not just of the two principals involved, but the entire world, and
that is two states living side by side in peace and security. Israel's
security needs met, the Palestinians
having a sovereign state that they call their own -- those are goals
that have obviously escaped our grasp for decades now. But now more
than ever I think is the time for us to seize on that vision. And I
think that Prime Minister Netanyahu is prepared to do so. I believe
that the government of Israel is prepared to
engage in such direct talks, and I commend the Prime Minister for
Obama also spoke to the role of Arab states saying,
going to need to be a whole set of confidence-building measures to make
sure that people are serious and that we're sending a signal to the
region that this isn't just more talk and more process without action.
I think it is also important
to recognize that the Arab states have to be supportive of peace,
because, although ultimately this is going to be determined by the
Israeli and Palestinian peoples, they can't succeed unless you have the
surrounding states having as -- a greater investment in the process
we've seen so far."
Netanyahu said, "We
discussed a great deal about activating, moving
forward the quest for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. We're
committed to that peace. I'm committed to that peace. Israelis are
prepared to do a lot to get that peace in place, but they want to make
sure that after all the steps
they take, that what we get is a secure peace. We don't want a repeat
of the situation where we vacate territories and those are overtaken by
Iran's proxies and used as a launching ground for terrorist attacks or
rocket attacks. I think it's high time to begin direct talks. I think
with the help of President Obama, President
Abbas and myself should engage in direct talks to reach a political
settlement of peace, coupled with security and prosperity. This
requires that the Palestinian Authority prepare its people for peace --
schools, textbooks, and so on. But I think at the end of the day, peace
is the best option for all of us, and I think we
have a unique opportunity and a unique time to do it." Direct talks are
now expected in the coming weeks.
Both Obama and Netanyahu concluded their remarks again
the unbreakable bond between the U.S. and Israel and the U.S. readiness
to take action to guarantee the security of Israel.
In an interview with Fox News, Netanyahu repeated the
conception of self-defence as a pretext for war.
"We always reserve the right to defend ourselves," he said. "[...] So
when [Obama] says that he's determined to prevent Iran from developing
nuclear weapons and
that all options are on the table, I think that's the right statement
Netanyahu did not directly respond to a question about
weapon-free zone in the Middle East, the essence of which is the broad
demand of the peoples of the region for Israel to rid itself of nuclear
weapons. Instead, he sought to divert from the matter by accusing Iran,
Iraq and Libya of violating
the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
IAEA to Keep Heat on Iran
Olli Heinonen, the Finnish
nuclear engineer who resigned last Thursday after five years as deputy
director for safeguards at the International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA), was the driving force in turning the United Nations nuclear
watchdog into a mechanism to support UN Security Council sanctions
Heinonen was instrumental
in making a collection of
intelligence documents showing a purported Iranian nuclear weapons
research program the central focus of the IAEA's work on Iran. The
result was to shift much of opinion among Western publics to the view
that Iran had been pursuing a covert
nuclear weapons program.
But his embrace of the intelligence documents provoked
a fierce political struggle within the secretariat of the IAEA, because
other officials believed the documents were fraudulent.
Heinonen took over the safeguards department in July
2005 -- the same month the George W. Bush administration first briefed
top IAEA officials on the intelligence collection.
The documents portrayed a purported nuclear weapons
research program, originally called the "Green Salt" project, which
included efforts to redesign the nose cone of the Shahab-3 missile,
high explosives apparently for the purpose of triggering a nuclear
weapon and designs for a uranium conversion
facility. Later, the IAEA referred to the purported Iranian activities
simply as the "alleged studies."
The Bush administration was pushing the IAEA to use the
documents to accuse Iran of having had a covert nuclear weapons
program. The administration was determined to ensure that the IAEA
governing board would support referring Iran to the UN Security Council
for action on sanctions, as part
of a larger strategy to force Iran to abandon its uranium-enrichment
program. Long-time IAEA director general Mohammed ElBaradei and other
officials involved in investigating and reporting on Iran's nuclear
program were immediately skeptical about the authenticity of the
documents. According to two Israeli
authors, Yossi Melman and Meir Javadanfar, several IAEA officials told
them in interviews in 2005 and 2006 that senior officials of the agency
believed the documents had been "fabricated by a Western intelligence
Heinonen, on the other hand, supported the strategy of
exploiting the collection of intelligence documents to put Iran on the
defensive. His approach was not to claim that the documents'
authenticity had been proven but to shift the burden of proof to Iran,
demanding that it provide concrete evidence
that it had not carried out the activities portrayed in the documents.
From the beginning, Iran's permanent representative to
the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, denounced the documents as
fabrications. In governing board meetings and interviews, Soltanieh
pointed to several indicators, including the absence of official stamps
showing receipt of the document by a government
office and the absence of any security markings.
The tensions between Heinonen and the senior officials
over the intelligence documents intensified in early 2008, when Iran
provided detailed documentation to the agency disproving a key premise
of the intelligence documents.
Kimia Maadan, a private Iranian company, was shown in
the intelligence documents as having designed a uranium conversion
facility as part of the alleged military nuclear weapons research
program. Iran proved to the satisfaction of those investigating the
issue, however, that Kimia Maadan had been
created by Iran's civilian atomic energy agency solely to carry out a
uranium ore processing project and had gone out of business before it
fulfilled the contract.
Senior IAEA officials then demanded that Heinonen
distance the organization from the documents by inserting a disclaimer
in future agency reports on Iran that it could not vouch for the
authenticity of the documents.
Instead, Heinonen gave a
"technical briefing" for IAEA
member countries in February 2008 featuring a diagram on which the
ore-processing project and the uranium-processing project were both
carried out by the firm and shared the same military numbering system.
The IAEA report published
just three days earlier established, however, that the ore-processing
project number -- 5/15 -- had been assigned to it not by the military
but by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. And the date on which it
was assigned was August 1999 -- many months before the purported
nuclear weapons program was shown to have been organized.
Heinonen carefully avoided endorsing the documents as
authentic. He even acknowledged that Iran had spotted technical errors
in the one-page design for a small-scale facility for uranium
conversion, and that there were indeed "technical inconsistencies" in
He also admitted Iran had provided open-source
publications showing spherical firing systems similar to the one
depicted in the intelligence documents on alleged tests of high
Heinonen suggested in his
presentation that the agency
did not yet have sufficient information to come to any firm conclusions
about those documents. In the May 2008 IAEA report, however, there was
no mention of any such caveats about the documents.
Instead, the report used language that was clearly
intended to indicate that the agency had confidence in the intelligence
documents: "The documentation presented to Iran appears to have been
derived from multiple sources over different periods of time, is
detailed in content and appears to be generally
That language, on which Heinonen evidently insisted,
did not represent a consensus among senior IAEA officials. One senior
official suggested to Inter Press Service in September 2009 that the
idea that documents came from different sources was not completely
"There are intelligence-sharing networks," said the
official. It was possible that one intelligence organization could have
shared the documents with others, he explained. "That gives us multiple
sources consistent over time," said the official. The same official
said of the collection of intelligence documents,
"It's not difficult to cook up."
Nevertheless, Heinonen's position had clearly
prevailed. And in the final year of ElBaradei's leadership of the
agency, the Safeguards Department became an instrument for member
states -- especially France, Britain, Germany and Israel -- to put
pressure on ElBaradei to publish summaries of intelligence
reports portraying Iran as actively pursuing a nuclear weapons program.
The active pressure of the United States and its allies
on behalf of the hard line toward Iran was the main source of
Heinonen's power on the issue. Those states have been feeding
intelligence on alleged covert Iranian nuclear activities to the
Safeguards Division for years, and Heinonen knew that ElBaradei
could not afford to confront the U.S.-led coalition openly over the
The Bush administration had threatened to replace
ElBaradei in 2004 and had reluctantly accepted his re-election as
director general in 2005. ElBaradei was not strong enough to threaten
to fire the main antagonist over the issue of alleged studies.
ElBaradei's successor Yukio Amano is even less capable
of adopting an independent position on the issues surrounding the
documents. The political dynamics of the IAEA ensure that Heinonen's
successor is certain to continue the same line on the Iran nuclear
issue and intelligence documents as
Vindication of DPRK at UN Security Council
Attempts by the U.S. and south
Korea to isolate the Democratic
People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) at the UN Security Council failed
when on July 9, the UN Security Council issued a presidential statement
condemning the sinking, but did not attribute blame to any party.
"The Security Council condemns the attack which led to
of the Cheonan," the 15-member body said in a statement read out by
Ambassador U. Joy Ogwu of Nigeria, which holds the Council's rotating
presidency for this month. It added that such an incident "endangers
peace and security
in the region and beyond." The Council expressed its deep concern over
the findings of the international report, but noted that the DPRK has
"stated that it had nothing to do with the incident." It welcomed the
"restraint" showed by the ROK and stressed the importance of
maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula
as well as in all of North-East Asia.
The Council encouraged "the settlement of outstanding
issues on the
Korean peninsula by peaceful means to resume direct dialogue and
negotiation through appropriate channels as early as possible, with a
view to avoiding conflicts and averting escalation." It urged the DPRK
to fulfil its commitments
under the now-suspended Six-Party Talks which sought to resolve the
crisis over the country's nuclear program.
The DPRK in a statement issued on July 10 said it was
principle to return to nuclear disarmament talks. Repeating its earlier
stance, the DPRK said it would make "consistent efforts for the
conclusion of a peace treaty and denuclearization through the six-party
talks conducted on an equal
footing." Referring to the declaration from the UN Security council it
said the statement exposes the "foolish calculation" of the U.S. and
south Korea in bringing the issue to the UN. The DPRK ambassador to the
UN, Sin Son Ho called the statement a "great diplomatic victory." A
foreign ministry spokesman noted
that the UN "hastily tabled and handled the case before the truth of
the case has been probed" and said the issue should have been handled
between the two Koreas. He stated that the DPRK "remains unchanged in
its stand to
probe the truth about the case to the last" and called the allegations
against it a "conspiratorial farce."
From the beginning, south Korea has denied the DPRK's Military Defence
Commission access to the evidence and the site of the sinking.
Despite the UN Security Council presidential statement
attributing the sinking to any party, both the U.S. and south Korea
sought to turn the statement into a vilification of the DPRK to justify
their warmongering and other acts to increase, not decrease, tension on
the Korean Peninsula.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who will visit south Korea in
July, claimed the UN had sent a warning to the DPRK "that such
irresponsible and provocative behaviour is a threat to peace and
security in the region and will not be tolerated." The White House
issued a similar statement, claiming the UN Security
Council's presidential statement "increases North Korea's international
isolation... as the international community continues to make clear the
cost that comes with North Korea's provocative behaviour." South
Korea's foreign ministry said the international community "condemned
North Korea's attack on the Cheonan
with a united voice and emphasised the importance of preventing
additional provocations." News agencies report that the south Korean
and U.S. navies are persisting in carrying out a joint exercise in the
West Sea. South Korea has also announced reprisals including a partial
South Korean daily Chosun
Ilbo reports that prior to the
statement from the
Security Council, China had asked the south Korean government through a
diplomatic channel to refrain from the joint exercise with the U.S.,
saying that it "might destabilize the Korean Peninsula."
The Chinese newspaper Global
Times in a July 7
south Korea had "delusions" of putting pressure on China through the
exercise. "The U.S. and South Korea are using the UN as an excuse to
pressure China over its stance on the sinking," the daily quoted a
Chinese academic as
saying. In an editorial July 6, the same paper said the drill is a
clear challenge to China's security. "Considering the growing economic,
diplomatic, political and cultural ties the U.S. has with China, the
price the U.S. has to pay for its irresponsible decision will be higher
than it can envision now. If the U.S. does
not pay for this 'adventure' now, it will pay in the future," it added.
A south Korean government official said, "Just as China
live fire exercise in the East China Sea on June 30, the two allies
Korea and the U.S. are staging a drill in our territorial waters. It's
a matter of sovereignty that nobody can interfere with. We can't cancel
the plan just because China
Following the release of the Security Council's
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said, "We hope the involved parties
continue to maintain calm and restraint, and take this opportunity to
flip over the page of the Cheonan incident as soon as possible"
"We call for an early
resumption of the six-party talks and joint
efforts to maintain peace and stability on the Korean peninsula," he
Meanwhile, the DPRK in its own statement aimed to "take
out of the U.S.-South Korea joint naval exercise and reprisals from
south Korea including a planned resumption of psychological warfare
against the DPRK. If hostile forces persist in
"demonstration of forces and sanctions,"
they would not escape "strong physical retaliation" or evade
responsibility for escalating the conflict, a foreign ministry
spokesman said on official media. The DPRK warned "hostile forces"
against carrying out "such provocations as a demonstration of forces
sanctions" in contravention of the UN statement. "They
will neither be able to escape the DPRK's strong physical retaliation
nor will be able to evade the responsibility for the resultant
escalation of the conflict," it said.
UN Command Considers DPRK Offer of Talks
The U.S.-led UN Command (UNC) for multinational forces
Korea may accept a proposal from the Democratic People's Republic of
Korea for military talks over the sinking of a South Korean warship Cheonan,
Republic of Korea had made a proposal for colonel-level
military talks as a counter offer to the U.S. proposal to for
general-level talks. "Chances are high that the North-UNC meeting will
take place," Yonhap quoted a senior official at the South's defence
ministry as saying. "A working-level meeting can
be held on July 13 as proposed by the North or it could be scheduled
for a later date than that."
The DPRK's modified proposal is for a senior colonel
contact at Panmunjom at 10:00 am on July 13, to discuss the issues
concerning the opening of the DPRK-U.S. general-level talks.
The Korean Central News Agency stated that if the U.S.
truly stands for a solution to the warship case and peace and security
on the Korean Peninsula, it should seriously respond to this proposal
carrying the good faith and magnanimity of the army of the DPRK.
South Korean Government Protests Russia's Conflicting
It came to light Friday that the South Korean government
the Russian Ambassador to South Korea and expressed strenuous
objections over the Russian government's failure to provide
notification of the findings of its independent team that investigated
the Cheonan sinking. The team was dispatched
to South Korea around one month ago and concluded that it was unable to
view the "No. 1 torpedo" as being the cause of the sinking.
According to military and foreign affairs support
Russia, the Russian government provided notification of its independent
investigation results only to the Chinese and U.S. governments last
week, and South Korea only found out about the content indirectly
through those two countries.
Following this, 1st Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and
Kak-soo summoned Russian Ambassador to South Korea Konstantin Vnukov to
the Foreign Ministry on July 4 to express "astonishment" at Russia's
investigation findings because the findings were a complete
contradiction to the South
Korean government's announcement. They also expressed severe dismay
about the fact that Russia notified only the U.S. and China about the
findings, while leaving South Korea out of the communication loop.
Foreign affairs sources reported that Shin used forceful
diplomatically irregular language to denounce Russia's behavior,
calling it "unfriendly conduct that violates trust," "bewildering," and
"disappointing." It was also reported to Shin proposed additional
discussions with Russia during the meeting,
and that the South Korean government subsequently provided additional
information to the Russian government.
"Was it not the South Korean government that provided
the Russian investigation, saying that they would be objective?" asked
a former senior official in foreign affairs and national security,
adding that the Russian investigation results "raise fundamental doubts
about the [South Korean]
government's announcement of its Cheonan investigation findings."
It was reported that while the Russian investigation
conclude that the Cheonan was not sunk by a North Korean bubble jet
torpedo, it did not present any definitive conclusions about the direct
cause, suggesting several possible scenarios such as a secondary mine
explosion following a problem
with the Cheonan during its maneuvers. Analysts are interpreting this
as being due to the fact that the Russian team, made up of submersible
and torpedo experts, focused its examination on the question of whether
the sinking resulted from a strike by the "No. 1 torpedo."
"The Russian investigation team's primary interest was
North Korea, which had been unable to produce its own torpedoes until
1995, suddenly was able to attack the Cheonan with a state-of-the-art
bubble jet torpedo," said a South Korean diplomatic source.
Indeed, the technology for bubble jet torpedoes, which
of splitting a vessel in two through the expansion and contraction of a
bubble resulting from a powerful explosion, is possessed only by the
U.S. and a small number of other countries, and has only been
successful to date in experiments
on stationary ships rather than actual fighting. The joint
civilian-military investigation team also acknowledged in its June 29
briefing to media groups that North Korea was the first to have
succeeded in using a bubble jet torpedo in the field.
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