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Official: Thais detain plane with weapons from North Korea

December 13, 2009 — Updated 0614 GMT (1414 HKT)


Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) — Thai authorities seized a cargo aircraft carrying tons of weapons from North Korea during a refueling stop in Bangkok, a government official said.

The pilot told Thai authorities the aircraft was headed to Sri Lanka, but its final destination was unknown, according to Panitan Wattanayagorn, a spokesman for the Thai prime minister.

It contained about 35 tons of weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades, shoulder-launched rockets and tubes that may be missile components, the spokesman said.

[ . . . ]

The plane, which was detained Saturday, had five people onboard — four from Kazakhstan and one from Belarus.


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Iran nuclear scientist ‘abducted by US

Page last updated at 18:04 GMT, Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Iran nuclear scientist ‘abducted by US’

Manouchehr Mottaki accused the US of abducting the scientist in Saudi Arabia

Iran has accused the US of abducting one of its nuclear scientists who has been missing since June.

Shahram Amiri disappeared in Saudi Arabia while on a Muslim pilgrimage.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told journalists the Iranians expected the US to return Mr Amiri,

( . . . )

“Based on existing pieces of evidence that we have at our disposal the Americans had a role in Mr Amiri’s abduction,” Mr Mottaki said.

“The Americans did abduct him. Therefore we expect the American government to return him.”

Mr Amiri worked as a researcher at Tehran’s Malek Ashtar University, according to Iran’s state-run Press TV channel.

However, some reports said he had also been employed by Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, and had wanted to seek asylum abroad.

[ . . . ]




Russia-France arms deal
Page last updated at 00:54 GMT, Sunday, 13 December 2009

Russia-France arms deal raises concerns for neighbours

By Alla Lazareva
BBC Ukrainian Service, Paris

Moscow is said to be getting closer to buying from the French a Mistral-class assault warship – capable of transporting and deploying up to 16 helicopters, 13 battle tanks and 450 troops – costing between $600m (£368m) and $750m.

[ . . . ]

Should Paris decide to go ahead with the sale, France would become the first Nato member to have chosen to sell advanced military technology to Moscow.

‘Serious danger’

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin discussed the potential deal during a recent official visit to Paris.

“We are buyers, you are sellers,” he told his hosts.
Nikolas Sarkozy and Vladimir Putin
Mr Putin (right) stressed Russia would use the warship how it wished

“Whoever we buy it from, we will reserve the right to use it where and when we consider necessary.”

And Russian generals have said that, had they had such a warship during the August 2008 conflict with Georgia, they would have been able to reach its shores within 40 minutes – rather than the 26 hours the country’s navy took after setting off from their base in the Ukrainian Crimean port of Sevastopol.


Retired Russian naval officers acknowledge that the Russian navy is in a very poor state.

Rear Adm Blyznyukov, (Serhiy Blyznyukov) says it is unclear how the ship will be deployed

The shipyard, which produced the majority of Soviet aircraft carriers and missile cruisers, is not even Russian; it is in Mykolayiv, in southern Ukraine.

What remains of the Russian navy is estimated to be 20 times smaller than that of the US.

Yet Russian manufacturers themselves oppose the potential purchase from France – suggesting Moscow would do better to invest the money in reinvigorating Russia’s own military industrial complex, which they say has been starved of funds.

Ukrainian Rear Adm Serhiy Blyznyukov, an adviser to the Ukrainian defence minister, said it was not clear whether Russia would deploy a Mistral-class warship to the Black Sea.

The base at Sevastopol, he said, is lacking the required infrastructure – meaning Russia would have to station the warship at the base of its Northern or Pacific Fleets.

But he acknowledged that in the longer term Russia could upgrade and modernise its facilities in Sevastopol.

Another solution for Russia, he said, would be the creation of a new naval base at the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk, where Ukraine hopes the current Black Sea fleet will be based after Russia’s lease in Crimea expires in 2017.

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