Hagel condemns cyber threats before Chinese president meets Obama

May 31, 2013

U.S. defense chief calls cyber threats ‘incredibly dangerous,’ Mali insurgents move to Libya, and Russian missiles don’t reach Syria after all. Today is Friday, May 31, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.

East Timor Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao (L) mingles with Indonesia’s Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro (R) and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (C) before the keynote address of the 12th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Asia Security Summit: The Shangri-La Dialogue, in Singapore, May 31, 2013. REUTERS/Edgar Su

Hagel not having it with Chinese cyber threats. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel condemned cyber attacks, calling them “as insidious and real a threat (as there is) to the United States… and every other nation” before President Obama’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in California next week and following some damning reports:

Hagel’s remarks came two days after news reports said the Defense Science Board – a committee of civilian experts who advise the Defense Department – had concluded that Chinese hackers have gained access to the designs of more than two dozen major U.S. weapons systems in recent years. The Pentagon downplayed the report as outdated and overstated. But the Defense Department underscored its concern about Chinese hacking in a separate report to Congress earlier this month, accusing Beijing of using cyber espionage to modernize its military. The report said the U.S. government had been the target of hacking that appeared to be “attributable directly to the Chinese government and military.”

Cyber security is a key issue for the Obama administration and is expected to be a major topic at the Shangri-La Security Dialogue in Singapore this weekend. China has consistently denied accusations of cyber crime, including claims this week by Australian media that the country stole the floor plans of Australia’s spy agency headquarters.

Is Libya the new Mali? Suicide attacks on a French-run mine and military base in Nigeria suggest that Islamist militants pushed from Mali are resettling in Libya:

Security officials say lawless southern Libya has become the latest haven for al Qaeda-linked fighters after French-led forces drove them from strongholds in northern Mali this year, killing hundreds. “The south of Libya is what the north of Mali was like before,” said a senior adviser to Mali’s interim President Diouncounda Traore, asking not to be named. Niger has said last week’s suicide raids, which killed 25 people at the army base and desert uranium mine run by France’s Areva, were launched from Libya. Amid growing tensions between the two countries, Libya has denied this.

Libya’s southern region is inundated with weapons and ammunitions, exacerbating the troubles of a region long-used by smugglers to traffic contraband to Europe. Lack of cooperation between France and Saharan countries like Algeria has made it unlikely that French troops will be able to withdraw from the region in the near future.

Missile reports jump the gun. Claims that Assad said he received the first shipment of a Russian missile system are not quite right, according to a source close to the Russian defense ministry:

Russia, which has supported Assad’s family since the Cold War, says it will send the S-300 missiles in part to help prevent the West from imposing a no-fly zone. A source close to the Defense Ministry in Moscow said the “hardware itself” had not yet arrived, although the contract was being implemented. A Lebanese newspaper earlier quoted Assad as saying in his al-Manar interview that Moscow had already sent a first shipment of missiles, although when the actual interview was broadcast Assad appeared to stop short of saying the missiles had arrived. “Everything we have agreed on with Russia will take place, and part of it has already taken place,” he said, without giving further details.

A source in the Russian arms industry said it may take months before the missiles reach Syria. Western powers worry that the anti-aircraft weapons would make it dangerous to implement a no-fly zone over Syria, and that the missile system would allow Syria to reach targets in Israel and Turkey.

Nota Bene: The discovery of an unknown strain of GMO wheat prompts South Korean millers to suspend wheat imports from the U.S.


Day in the life A Bangladeshi factory inspector details the grueling duties of his daily shift. (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Hard to shill – Action star Steven Seagal tries to lead a congressional delegation in Chechnya. (The Atlantic)

Shark week, every week – Global shark tourism is expected to double as fishing values decrease. (The Guardian)

Where phones go to die – China has become the world’s electronic waste basket. (CNN)

Fan favorite – Mexico’s highest-grossing film ever is a satirical reflection on economic inequality. (The New York Times)

From the File:

  • Britain asks Germany to help lead reform of EU, explains how
  • Berlusconi associates accused over underage prostitution
  • Analysis: Syrian war seen dragging on for years
  • Turkish police tear gas anti-government protesters
  • Afghan Taliban deny attacking Red Cross

One comment

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bill clinton gave the chinese tons of military secrets before he left office. Just invited the chinese to look. Gave them documents…. That put the chinese well on the way to catching up with us. Why doesn’t the media remember this?

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