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A U.S. nuclear submarine and aircraft carrier move toward Iran while Israel conducts its largest war exercises to-date

A US nuclear submarine has moved into the Persian Gulf, in advance of an aircraft carrier and its accompanying naval strike force. There will soon be two US aircraft carrier groups in the region facing off against Iran, also while tensions are on the rise between Israel on one side and Syria and Lebanon on the other. Currently, one carrier strike group is stationed in the Arabian Sea. The additional carrier group currently on its way will include 6,000 personnel and combatants.

DEBKAfile reports:

Tehran reports that an Iranian naval patrol Thursday, May 27, detected a US nuclear submarine sailing through the strategic Strait of Hormuz, through which most of the oil produced by Persian Gulf states passes on its way to world markets.

[…] Western intelligence and naval sources confirm that a nuclear-armed American submarine has in fact entered the Persian Gulf.

Some 20% of the world’s oil leaves the Persian Gulf via the Straight of Hormuz.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, May 23, Israel began five day long war games. Numerous media reports present an Israeli war with Labanon and perhaps Syria as inevitable, if not this summer then within the next few years. I’m not sure about what inevitable means, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that drills and war preparations are used as threats against neighbours, or that Israel desires war at some point and that war is being planned for. Here is an example of statements from Israel’s daily, Ha’aretz: “The home front’s readiness for the next war was the focus of this past week’s national exercise.” And, paraphrasing Israeli Brig. General Uzi Moskovitch “Moskovitch, who speaks cautiously, does not think there is a big risk of a war in the north this summer. He does, though, believe such a confrontation will occur in the coming years.”

In response to the Israeli exercises, Lebanon has conducted its own drill on May 26.

Ynet reports:

A security source in Beirut said that Lebanese soldiers were dispatched across the border with Israel “in order to thwart any possible offensive from the enemy, and close any loopholes that it might use during an attack scenario.”

During its drill, Lebanon fired its anti-aircraft batteries on Israeli airplanes it said violated the national airspace.

Xinhua reports:

Lebanon accuses Israel of violating its airspace on a daily basis, also a breach of UN Resolution 1701 which ended the 34-day war between Israel and Lebanese Shiite armed group Hezbollah in 2006.

[…] Lebanese army also opened fires to Israeli warplanes in March and February, but none of Israeli planes were hit.

The Israeli war exercises included airplane flight distances that were similar to the length they would need to fly to reach Iran.

Iran’s army is not able to credibly threaten its neighbours with a land invasion, it simply does not have that capacity. It can, however, function to defend itself against invasion and has as focus internal security. Iran has not started a war in the past couple of centuries.

The Race for Iran has responded to talk of a US-Iran war scenario, stating that they “believe that Iran has an enormous capacity for ‘asymmetric’ resistance to armed violations of its sovereignty.”

The war drills in Israel are part of a yearly exercise of emergency preparedness, and includes not just war games but also emergency services, and also air raid sirens are set off requiring citizens to enter air raid shelters. This year’s exercise has been the largest in Israel’s history.

Israel’s IBA News television broadcast interviews a man discussing his and his children’s experience of the shelters drill (you can view this online, at Mosaic World News, 4 minutes and 40 seconds into the video). His children were told of the drill in kindergarten and are prepared for it through school. When asked how he talks to his children about these events the interviewee explains that “It doesn’t scare them but they have an understanding about enemies, Arabs, and people who hate the state of Israel. They have these vague concepts.”

Brazil and Turkey are at odds with the US over their negotiations with Iran to swap low enriched uranium amounting to nearly half of Iran’s current total. The US has said the deal is not good enough and has pressed for further sanctions against Iran while mobilizing its navy. Brazil and Turkey have said that US president Obama earlier gave them personal assurances that he was in support of their pursuing a nuclear fuel swap deal along the lines promoted by the US and Europe in October of 2009. Brazil has published the letter from the US to Brazil giving support for the deal while the US administration claims that the letter is taken out of context.

$602 million in arms sales reported today

Quite randomly, I decided to do a quick survey of military equipment and services as well as arms sales announced on two military/weapons journals on 5 May. These two journals (ASD News and Defense Industry Daily) have a listing of new arms contract announcements for the day that together total US$602.4 million. I’m sure this does not capture the total of such sales around the world. I didn’t dig very deep, and I haven’t looked into other journals or sources of information. The journals I happened to review I think generally report on sales to Western governments or from Western corporations.

According to a report written for the US Congress (September 2009), between 2001 and 2008, 41% of global arms sales are made by the US, 17% by Russia, 8% by France, 7% by the UK, 4% by Germany, 3% by China, 3% by Italy, 11% by other European countries, and 6% by all others.

Saudi Arabia was the biggest spender among developing nations in terms of arms purchases between 2001 and 2008. That country accounted for 16% of the total money spent.

Here’s the breakdown of the sales I found today:

ATK Receives $52 M Training Tank Ammunition Order From US Army: $52 M (to USA)

Force Protection Receives $24 M Award for 30 Cougar Vehicles: $24 M (to USA)

US Navy Selects BAE-Led Team to Provide ISR&T System: $72 M (to USA)

CAE Awarded New Military Contracts in Europe and Canada: $48.4 (to Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands)

Navistar Receives $191 M in New Vehicle and Upgrade Orders: $191 M (to USA)

BAE Systems Wins New Land Contracts in Nordic Markets: $215 (to Norway and Finland)

Militarization of space

January 25, 2010 1 comment
Space junk

Space junk

Space, specifically Earth’s orbit, is being increasingly militarized. Orbital technologies provide significant advantages in communications, surveillance, targeting, intelligence, coordination, and, with time, potentially weaponization. The US, as a part of its strategy of ‘full spectrum dominance’ has sought to take advantage of its lead in space by creating facts on the ground (perhaps a bad phrase in this case…) by establishing the norms of space conduct as well as creating a commanding position for itself in orbit before more national players seriously join the space race.

According to the Join Vision 2020 report, “The label full spectrum dominance implies that US forces are able to conduct prompt, sustained, and synchronized operations with combinations of forces tailored to specific situations and with access to and freedom to operate in all domains – space, sea, land, air, and information.  Additionally, given the global nature of our interests and obligations, the United States must maintain its overseas presence forces and the ability to rapidly project power worldwide in order to achieve full spectrum dominance.” This report was written for the US military.

The Defense Industry Daily has more on the militarization of space:

In January 2001, a commission headed by then US Defense Secretary-designate Donald Rumsfeld warned about a possible “space Pearl Harbor” in which a potential enemy would launch a surprise attack against US-based military space assets, disabling them. These assets include communications satellites and the GPS system, which is crucial for precision attack missiles and a host of military systems.

“The US is more dependent on space than any other nation. Yet the threat to the US and its allies in and from space does not command the attention it merits,” the commission warned.

One of the systems that grew out of the commission’s report was the Space Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) project, which is developing a constellation of satellites to provide the US military with space situational awareness using visible sensors. Recent developments for the project include a $30 million contract for Boeing to provide maintenance and operations services for the SBSS logistics infrastructure.

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