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from MacroScope:

A turning point?

Emergencies Ministry members work at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region

Could the shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine be a fundamental turning point in the crisis that has pitted Russia against the West? And if so which way – towards rapprochement or a further escalation?

Kiev accused militants fighting to unite eastern Ukraine with Russia of shooting down the Boeing 777 carrying nearly 300 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with a Soviet-era ground-to-air missile. Leaders of rebels in the Donetsk People's Republic denied any involvement, although around the same time their military commander said his forces had downed a smaller Ukrainian transport plane.

A Ukrainian Interior Ministry official took to Facebook shortly after the plane came down, saying that rebels had used a Buk anti-aircraft system given to them by Russia, and appealed to the West to act. That doesn’t make the situation much clearer since Russia, Ukraine and the separatists all probably have the missile in their arsenals.

Later, Ukraine's state security chief accused two Russian military intelligence officers of involvement in the downing of the plane. Moscow has denied its forces are involved in any way.

from The Great Debate:

The case for sea-based drones

An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator is towed into the hangar bay of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), May 13, 2013. CREDIT: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Walter

If all goes according to plan, sometime on Tuesday the military balance of power in the Pacific Ocean could tilt to America's advantage. The U.S. Navy's main warships, whose firepower now cannot match the range of Chinese missiles, could gain a new weapon that more than levels the playing field.

from UK News:

Can Britain still afford nuclear weapons ?

BRITAIN-NUCLEAR/As the public spending axe starts swinging, attention inevitably turns northwards to the chilly waters of the Clyde where Britain's nuclear deterrent is based.

The four Vanguard class submarines which make up what is left of the UK deterrent come to the end of their lives around 2019 and their Trident missiles will need updating in the 2020s.

from The Great Debate UK:

Can Britain still afford nuclear weapons ?

[CROSSPOST blog: 19 post: 4040]

Original Post Text:
BRITAIN-NUCLEAR/As the public spending axe starts swinging, attention inevitably turns northwards to the chilly waters of the Clyde where Britain's nuclear deterrent is based.

The four Vanguard class submarines which make up what is left of the UK deterrent come to the end of their lives around 2019 and their Trident missiles will need updating in the 2020s.

from Raw Japan:

Pyongyang back in black?

KOREA-NORTH/

North Korea hasn't yet rejoined the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, but weekend comments from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the nation was mulling the possibility were replayed by Japanese media with the same gusto they gave reports on Japan qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.

Pyongyang, an initial member of President George Bush's "axis of evil" in 2002, was removed from the U.S. blacklist last October, after agreeing to a series of nuclear site verification measures.

from Raw Japan:

Cherry blossoms come rain, shine or rocket launch

Nothing can get in the way of a cherry blossom party in Japan, not even North Korea's test-launch of a rocket.

A couple weeks ago I blogged about Japan's cherry blossom season and how the sakura-crazy nation was preparing to pop open the sake and party.

from Raw Japan:

North Korean golf shot?

An anonymous Japanese official has raised eyebrows with off-the-cuff comments as the country prepares for an expected rocket launch by neighbouring North Korea.

First, the official questioned whether Japan could really shoot down a stray rocket if its territory was threatened, next he -- well, most likely 'he' -- compared the looming launch to a wayward golf ball that would prompt the shout of "Fore!", the traditional warning to watch out on the golf course.

from Raw Japan:

Japan on edge as North Korean rocket launch date nears

The Japanese and U.S. military are deploying land and sea-based missile interceptors and ships with high-tech radar, Japanese local authorities are holding drills and a Tokyo resident is dreaming of missiles as the date nears for a rocket launch by Japan's secretive neighbour North Korea.

KOREA NORTH/MISSILEPyongyang has said the launch planned for April 4-8 is for the peaceful purpose of sending a satellite into orbit, but the United States, South Korea and Japan see it as a disguised test of a Taepodong-2 missile that in theory could reach Alaska or Hawaii.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Obama calls Pakistan’s Zardari, assures support

 U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has assured Pakistani President Asif Al Zardari of his support for democracy in the frontline nation during a telephone call on Friday, Pakistan's official state agency said.

 

 

Obama’s conversation was part of a round of phone calls he made to world leaders including Britain, Israel, Japan, Australia, France and Germany, mainly to thank them for their messages of congratulation following his victory.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

What does showdown over Iran mean for Pakistan?

File photo of Iranian President Mahmoud AhmedinejadIt's early days yet, but people are already trying to work out what any Israeli attack on Iran would mean for Pakistan. (The idea that Israel might attack Iran to damage or destroy its nuclear programme gained currency this week when former U.S. ambassador John Bolton predicted in an interview with the Daily Telegraph that it would do so after the November U.S. presidential election but before the next president is sworn in.)

Pakistan defence analyst Ikram Sehgal paints an alarming, and perhaps deliberately alarmist, picture in The News of what this could mean for Pakistan: "Could Israeli or (US) planners afford the risk of leaving a Muslim nuclear state with the means of missile delivery intact if there is war with Iran? Can they take this calculated risk in the face of a possible Pakistani nuclear reaction because of military action on a fellow Muslim nation and neighbour...?" he writes. "Should one not be apprehensive that India as the 'newly U.S. appointed policeman of the region' takes the opportunity ... for launching all-out Indian military offensive....?"

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