Friday, October 27, 2006

T. touching down.

Hmmm. Maybe Annika you're reading too much into that press release. I mean, come war, come peace, come aliens from outer space, trade will always continue. What we can't know for sure is whether Canada is hoping this latest diplomatic effort is intended to broadcast a tacit alliance with Asia (beyond issues related to trade) or if it's just about providing farmers in Alberta with new international markets.

btw, anyone think the article I've posted below is cause for alarm? Siraj?

The whole seabed survey thing sounds like the usual transparent BS to me. Jasp, you ok with this?



Special Correspondent to the New York Times
October 27, 2006, 5:38PM Eastern

Yesterday, the United States announced an imminent missile defense system test over the Arabian Sea.

The Arabian Sea is a region of the Indian Ocean bounded on the east by India, on the north by Pakistan and Iran, on the west by Arabian Peninsula, and on the south, approximately, by a line between Cape Guardafui, the north-east point of Somalia, Socotra, Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin) in India, and the western coast of Sri Lanka.

Representatives from nearly every nation with a coastline on the Indian Ocean have all said the test would violate a United Nations Security Council resolution.

Missile defense experts believe the Americans will execute the test within three or four days.

The Pentagon has said the test is necessary to prove working capability of recent modifications to its existing sea based defense network, Aegis. A representative from the Missile Defense Agency explained that the test would require the launch of a single a Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) followed by the launch of an interceptor missile from an undisclosed naval ship. A second interceptor missile would remain on standby and would be launched only if the first failed to hit the target.

At the White House, Press Secretary Dana Perino said the United States was executing the launch over the Arabian Sea, and not in Hawaii where the US conducts most such tests, because the navy was simultaneously conducting a survey of the Indian Ocean floor in order to revise seabed maps so that they accurately reflect notable damage or changes incurred by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.

The tsunami was caused by a a colossal earthquake that measured 9.3 on the Richter scale, displacing massive amounts of water and producing killer waves that sped to coastlines around the Indian Ocean. While sub sea surface changes can be expected to be most dramatic at the quake's epicenter, Perino said that the current survey is measuring the extent of the seabed shift. Navy Hydrographers therefore expect high-resolution multi-beam 3D sonar images to reveal a considerably transformed subsurface landscape.

Ms. Perino further explained that accurate undersea maps are important for national security reasons since submarines use them to navigate the high seas.

Immediately rebutting Ms. Perino's statement, Rear Admiral B R Rao AVSM, NM, VSM , the Chief Hydrographer to the Government of India, held a press conference of his own at the Indian Naval Hydrographic Department in Dehradun, India, in which he stated that damage to the ocean floor in the waters south of Oman, due to the 2004 Tsunami, are "most certainly negligible".

When asked, Ms. Perino did not deny the possibility that the target missile's flight plan might carry it over the Strait of Hormuz, near where a Delta Airliner was accidentally downed by an Iranian Naval vessel last month. Ms. Perino's handling of the matter has lead some to speculate that the upcoming missile defense test is a cover for a mere demonstration of power by a wobbly empire against a regional adversary, Iran.

According to a recent Gallup poll, 64% of Americans believe the downing of Delta Flight 7488 by the Iranian Defense Forces was not an accident.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has suggested that Washington is simply lying when it says it is testing new modifications. Instead, he believes that the US Navy will launch a Trident II missile outfitted with a dummy warhead and intercept it using conventional SM-3 missiles guided with existing software capabilities. In other words, that the test is all for show, or that regional reaction to an exercise of US Military power might in fact be the true test.

In the meantime, Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, called the Arabian Sea launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile by a western power –even one used in a test and outfitted with dummy warhead– a "provocative act", given recent events in South East Asia "by neo crusaders".

Singh warned that India would now probably seek sanctions on the United States, if it indeed goes ahead with the planned launch. He further suggested that the Security Council should adopt a resolution banning the Americans from further development of weapons of mass destruction.

Even Great Britain's Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has said such a test at this time was unwise and would only raise military tensions, and perhaps most importantly, further discourage foreign investors away from the west, including the United Kingdom which is not participating in the test, and which is also not alone in fighting a global recession.

In a joint statement, both Blair and French President, Jacques René Chirac, said that they favor sanctioning the United States if Washington proceeds with the missile test.

For now, there is little doubt that Washington will do as Washington will do.