Posts Tagged ‘Nuclear Weapons’

Panama Canal arms cargo was for North Korea to keep, say experts

| August 28th, 2013 | No Comments »
The Guardian UK

Fighter jets and parts seized from a ship in Panama were likely intended for use by North Korea, an apparent violation of UN sanctions, an arms control institute has said.

The findings by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute contradict Cuba‘s claim that it was only sending equipment to North Korea for repairs and expected it to be returned. The contraband hidden in a cargo of sugar included MiG aircraft and motors, missiles and anti-aircraft missile systems.

UN sanctions forbid North Korea from trading arms to deprive it of technology and revenue because of its pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. If the Cuban equipment was intended for North Korean use it would suggest Pyongyang is struggling to maintain its ageing conventional armaments.

The ship, Chong Chon Gang, was intercepted on 15 July in the Panama Canal with 25 containers of Cuban military equipment found beneath the 10,000 tonnes of sugar. The equipment was not listed ... Read More

Another Rogue-State Smuggling Route Is Revealed

| July 22nd, 2013 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal


Panama’s interdiction last week of a North Korean freighter bearing cargo from Cuba should open President Obama’s eyes. The seizure’s chilling implication is that significant trading exists among proliferators (and their powerful friends), despite mountains of sanctions resolutions, vaunted intelligence capabilities, and Western leaders who think dictators can be talked out of long-sought military capabilities. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama is botching a real opportunity by mistakenly deferring to the United Nations.

Much remains unknown about the shipment aboard the Chong Chon Gang, or what it carried inbound to Cuba. The Havana-Pyongyang story that the vessel was transporting obsolete weapons and equipment certainly warrants considerable skepticism. But even if its cargo was just that and nothing more, the mere fact of this newly revealed rogue-state trade route is bad news. “Axis of evil” was never just a metaphor, and membership is always open.

The freighter could well represent a pattern of trafficking ... Read More

Cuba: ‘Obsolete’ weapons on ship were going to North Korea for repair

| July 17th, 2013 | No Comments »
From CNN

It was a mystery that Panama’s president said his country was struggling to solve.

What was the massive military equipment hidden under hundreds of thousands of sacks of brown sugar on a North Korean boat? Where did it come from? And where was it going before investigators seized the vessel near the Panama Canal?

Hours after Panama said it would ask U.S. and British officials for help solving the puzzle, Cuba gave an answer Tuesday night.

In addition to 10,000 tons of sugar, Cuba’s Foreign Ministry said, the shipment contained “240 metric tons of obsolete defensive weapons” sent to North Korea “to be repaired and returned to Cuba.”

The equipment was manufactured in the mid-20th century and included two anti-aircraft missile systems, nine missiles in parts and spares, two MiG-21 jets and 15 motors for this type of airplane, the foreign ministry said.

“The agreements subscribed by Cuba in this field are supported by the ... Read More

The Cuban-North Korean Connection

| July 16th, 2013 | No Comments »
Focus on Cuba

The recent, unprecedented mobilization of the Cuban military has little to do with an imminent U.S. invasion. The reason the Castro regime is spending an estimated US$1.2 billion a year of Cuba’s scarce resources on its armed forces (1) has to do with reasserting the dominant institutional role of the military in Cuba’s totalitarian society, instilling anti-American sentiments in the Cuban people, and assuring an orderly succession after Fidel Castro’s death under the martial rule of Defense Minister Raúl Castro.

However, what may be of genuine concern for Cuba’s neighbors is Castro’s new campaign to upgrade his armed forces’ capabilities and reach. With the Cuban military involved in virtually every sector of the Cuban economy and managing the island’s lucrative US$2 billion a year tourism industry (2), Defense Minister Raúl Castro certainly has the means at his disposal to pursue his big brother’s rearmament ambitions.

That Cuba is seeking to rearm has ... Read More

Ilan Berman Testimony: Threat to the Homeland: Iran’s Extending Influence in the Western Hemisphere

| July 10th, 2013 | 1 Comment »
US House of Representatives

Chairman Duncan, Ranking Member Barber, distinguished members of the Subcommittee:

Thank you for inviting me to appear before you today to address the issue of Iran’s presence in the Western Hemisphere. I strongly believe that it represents an issue of high importance to the safety and security of the United States. Over the past two years, my organization, the American Foreign Policy Council, has extensively studied Iran’s presence and activities in Latin America. This has entailed three separate fact-finding missions to Central and South America to date, the most recent in May 2013. What follows are my observations and conclusions gleaned from those visits.


To properly grasp the challenge posed by Iran’s activities in the Western Hemisphere, they need to be understood in proper geopolitical context: as part of a larger “peripheral strategy” on the part of the Iranian regime. To a significant degree, they are a response to growing diplomatic ... Read More

Duncan Releases Statement on the State Department’s Report on Iranian Activity and Influence in the Western Hemisphere

| June 27th, 2013 | No Comments »
Department of State

WASHINGTON, DC: Today, the State Department released a report to Congress with its assessment of the threat from Iran and its strategy to counter Iran’s influence in the Western Hemisphere.  This report was required by Congressman Jeff Duncan’s legislation, the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act, which Congress passed and the president signed into Public Law 112-220 in December 2012.

The law states that the policy of the U.S. is to use a comprehensive strategy to counter Iran’s hostile presence and activity in the Western Hemisphere.  Its intent was for the State Department to work together with U.S. allies and partners in the Western Hemisphere to address the issue of Iran’s operations in our hemisphere together.

“After speaking with Assistant Secretary Roberta Jacobson this morning, I am disappointed that the State Department did not reach out to even one country in the Western Hemisphere in the crafting of the threat assessment ... Read More

Rohani optimistic about further expansion of Iran-Cuba ties

| June 25th, 2013 | No Comments »
Press TV

Iranian president-elect Hassan Rohani has expressed optimism about the prospect of bilateral relations between Iran and Cuba.

In a Tuesday message, Rohani thanked Cuban President Raul Castro for his congratulatory message over his victory in Iran’s June 14 presidential election.

“I believe that the amicable ties between Iran and Cuba will further expand to the benefit of the great nations of both countries,” Rohani pointed out.

Rohani emerged victorious in Iran’s 11th presidential election winning 50.7 percent of a total of over 36 million ballots counted. The voter turnout in the election was 72.7 percent.

Cuba has repeatedly underlined its determination to support Iran’s nuclear energy program and strengthen mutual cooperation to counter Western embargos against Tehran.

Analyst say Tehran and Havana have reinforced the global front against the Western capitalism.

Despite the geographical distance, Iran and Cuba hold common views on many international issues including the establishment of justice, Palestine, disarmament, human ... Read More

The Correa-Khamenei Axis

| May 29th, 2013 | 1 Comment »
The Washington Free Beacon


American national security officials are not adequately addressing the deepening ties between socialist Latin American regimes and state sponsors of terrorism in the Middle East, experts say.

The ties, these experts add, could help hostile regimes flout international sanctions.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, who is looking to fill the geopolitical vacuum left by the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, is strengthening his relationships with Iran and Syria, two outspoken foes of the United States.

Those ties are the products of efforts by regimes that have been isolated economically to “launder” funds through countries that can operate freely in the international economy, according to American Enterprise Institute fellow Roger Noriega, a former State Department official and U.S. ambassador to the Organization for American States.

American policymakers, Noriega said, have not adequately responded to the threat.

“It’s been a very flat learning curve with the Obama administration,” he said of Iran’s increasing influence in ... Read More

Venezuela’s Turmoil No Laughing Matter

| May 23rd, 2013 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal


The repercussions from Venezuela’s economic policies are providing journalists with excellent fodder for humorous headlines, replete with puns.

“Venezuela’s Government Moves to Relieve Toilet Paper Shortages,” reads the title of an Agence France Presse story Wednesday.

The “moves” were among the first taken by the country’s National Assembly, which reconvened Tuesday after a three-week hiatus following a lawmakers brawl that left a handful of opposition members bloodied. The legislature authorized a $79 million credit for the purchase of imported personal  hygiene products, including “39 million rolls of toilet paper, 50 million sanitary napkins, 10 million bars of soap, 17 million disposable diapers and three million tubes of toothpaste,” the AFP reported.

Venezuela’s travails no doubt make for colorful copy. But the country’s growing turmoil–both economic and political–is no laughing matter. Foreign Policy ran a blog post last week with this sobering title: “Is Venezuela becoming a failed state?”

The question isn’t far-fetched.

Why are there shortages of ... Read More

Southcom Chief: Iran Working to Expand Influence in Latin America

| March 28th, 2013 | No Comments »
Department of Defense


WASHINGTON, March 20, 2013 – U.S. Southern Command’s top officer told Congress today that Iran is actively working to expand its presence in Latin America to cultivate allies at a time when Tehran is facing tough U.S and international sanctions for its alleged nuclear weapons program.

Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly told the House Armed Services Committee that Iran “has been very, very active over the last few years” in cultivating diplomatic and cultural ties to the region, especially by befriending Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died earlier this month.

“They’ve opened embassies, they’ve opened cultural centers,” he testified, adding that on the surface, all of this appears to be normal.

“But to what end is obviously the issue,” he told the House panel.

Kelly told lawmakers he could discuss details about what the Iranian government’s goals might be only in a closed session. He mentioned Bolivia, Ecuador and Argentina as ... Read More

Chavez’s Death A Huge Opportunity — If Venezuelans Can Seize It

| March 8th, 2013 | No Comments »
International Business Times


The death of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez prompts two questions, the answers to which will have enormous implications not just for his country but for the United States, Latin America, and points far beyond.

First, will the government Chavez left behind conduct a fair election to replace him, which is supposed to occur within 30 days? Second, if the Venezuelan people get the opportunity of a fair election, will they choose wisely? The early signs don’t necessarily point to governmental acquiescence in a free and fair plebiscite.

Chavez’s heir apparent, Vice President Nicolas Maduro, has sought to rally public support by charging that the U.S. was somehow behind the cancer that claimed the boisterous petro-dictator at the age of 58. He also kicked two U.S. military attaches out of the country, alleging they sought to destabilize Venezuela.

Maduro’s outlandish charges smack of the kind of populist demagoguery that Chavez practiced ... Read More

The Cuba terrorism two-step

| February 26th, 2013 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

Floating policy trial balloons is longstanding Washington custom. Not so common is when that balloon gets blasted out of the sky by the “senior official” leaker’s own administration. That’s what happened last week when the Boston Globe reported that, “High-level U.S. diplomats have concluded that Cuba should no longer be designated a state sponsor of terrorism.”

Yet the ink was barely dry on that report before both the White House and State Department utterly repudiated (here and here) any notion that Cuba would soon be de-listed as a state sponsor of terrorism.

As I have written in this space before, de-listing Cuba has been a long-sought goal of a die-hard cadre of critics of the United States’ Cuba policy. Why? Well, it seems that the Castro regime, which was born in terrorist violence, aided and abetted it across four continents over three decades, and whose training camps produced such international luminaries as Carlos the Jackal, is upset that it continues to ... Read More

Refusal to Lead

| February 15th, 2013 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy


During Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama had an opportunity to engage in the debate about America’s role in the world. Unfortunately, he failed to do so.

He speaks eloquently of America’s role as a “beacon to all who seek freedom,” but stood idly by as protesters took to the streets in Iran, Syria, and elsewhere, pleading for American support, only to be rebuffed.

He seeks a world without nuclear weapons even as rogue regimes such as North Korea and Iran have advanced their nuclear programs on his watch.

The president talks of a “pivot” to Asia, while overseeing massive defense cuts that won’t leave us with naval assets to pivot with.

America’s free enterprise system has given us the means to protect our people and advance the goals of global liberty, prosperity, and safeguarding human rights. Unfortunately, our weak economy has not only made it difficult for people ... Read More

Firm Denies Deception in Big Check Tied to Iran

| February 6th, 2013 | No Comments »
The New York Times


CARACAS, Venezuela — When German customs agents at the Düsseldorf airport found a check for the equivalent of nearly $70 million in Venezuelan currency in the carry-on bag of a former Iranian economy minister last month, it seemed like the elements of an international thriller.

But an Iranian construction company contended on Tuesday that the reality was much more mundane: the money, it said, was meant to pay wages and buy concrete and other materials as part of a project to build 10,000 apartments in Venezuela.

“They’re buildings, not bombs, not missiles,” said a lawyer for the company, Kayson Venezuela, mocking speculation here that the company’s construction projects were a front for more sinister activities.

The lawyer, interviewed at the company’s offices in Caracas, refused to give his name, citing company policy.

The unusual courier was Tahmaseb Mazaheri, a former Iranian economy minister and Central Bank governor, according ... Read More

Israel Rebukes Argentina for Deal With Iran to Investigate ’94 Attack

| January 30th, 2013 | No Comments »
The New York Times


JERUSALEM — Israel strongly criticized Argentina on Tuesday, summoning its ambassador to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem to explain Argentina’s agreement with Iran to establish a joint commission to investigate the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, an attack for which Tehran is widely blamed.

The Foreign Ministry’s deputy director general for Latin America “conveyed Israel’s astonishment and disappointment at the Argentine government’s decision to collaborate with Iran,” according to a statement from the ministry.

It added that Israel had “protested the unacceptable attitude of the Argentine government toward Israel since the beginning of contacts between Buenos Aires and Tehran,” saying that Argentina had not responded to Israel’s requests to be kept informed of the diplomatic moves with Iran, nor of how Argentina envisaged bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Israel’s ambassador to Argentina was expected to request a meeting with Argentina’s foreign minister, Hector Timerman, in the coming days for clarification ... Read More

Israel Angered Over Argentina-Iran Bombing Probe

| January 29th, 2013 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press


Israel summoned the Argentinian ambassador on Tuesday in protest over an agreement between Iran and Argentina to jointly investigate the bombing 19 years ago of a Jewish center that killed 85 people in Buenos Aires and that was widely blamed on Tehran.

The terror attack was the deadliest on Argentinian soil, coming just two years after a bomb flattened the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 people.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said the Argentina-Iran agreement, which was struck on Sunday, “is like inviting a murderer to investigate the killings he committed.”

Argentine prosecutors have formally accused six Iranians of coordinating — under orders from their government — the July 18, 1994, bombing that demolished the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association building.

The center, a symbol for Argentina’s Jewish community, was destroyed and 85 people were killed and hundreds more wounded.

Argentine officials have claimed that Iran masterminded the attack while agents of ... Read More

With new group against Hagel, will his Cuba policies draw more fire?

| January 22nd, 2013 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald


A new conservative group, Americans for Strong Defense, has been formed to take on Chuck Hagel’s defense secretary nomination by President Obama.

While most of the attention against the former Republican Nebraska senator has centered on his positions regarding Israel and (to a lesser degree) gays in the military, Hagel’s stances on Cuba could get more attention. A prominent anti-Castro activist, Maurico Claver-Carone, sits on Americans for Strong Defense’s board and recently his Capitol Hill Cubans blog  featured an editorial bashing Hagel. Rep. Ileans Ros-Lehtinen has expressed concern with Hagel. Sen. Marco Rubio has as well.

Americans for a Strong Defense is running ads targeting senators in five states (Florida isn’t one of them). The ads, however, don’t mention Cuba and instead focus on the threats of Iran, North Korea and Russia.

Here’s the press release:

Americans for a Strong Defense will make the case to voters and elected officials that Senator Hagel ... Read More

Iran: A Regional Threat Beyond the Middle East

| January 14th, 2013 | No Comments »
Sun Sentinel

In the past year the international community has taken unprecedented action to pressure the Iranian regime to abandon its nuclear ambitions. For example, the U.S. and European Union have adopted comprehensive new sanctions measures aimed at tightening the economic noose around the regime, while a number of other nations have finally taken steps to curtail Iranian oil imports – striking at the economic heart of the regime. These actions are having a tangible effect on Iran’s economy as evidenced most demonstrably by the crash of Iran’s currency, the rial, which has plummeting to historic lows in recent weeks.

Against this backdrop of increasingly effective and broad economic pressure, however, is a curious anomaly. Several countries in one region of the world are working to undermine international sanctions against Iran and some are even helping the Iranian regime engage in illegal activities such as money laundering and narco-terrorism. Surprisingly, these countries are ... Read More

US Senate Passes Duncan’s Iran Legislation

| December 13th, 2012 | No Comments »
US House of Representatives

Washington, DC—South Carolina Congressman Jeff Duncan achieved another major legislative victory on Wednesday evening after one of his bills, the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act (HR 3783), passed the United States Senate. The measure passed by unanimous consent with a technical amendment from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. The Senate’s action sends the bill back to the US House for a final vote before going to the President for his signature.

“This is a common sense, pro-liberty bill. We’re not giving the government any more power. Part of the problem with this emerging threat is that many federal agencies aren’t on the same page. This bill assesses the problem, gets agencies to collaborate, and starts the process of developing a strategy to combat this threat,” Duncan said.

“We must be vigilant in protecting against new threats here at home,” said Duncan. “In the shadow of Iran’s growing nuclear ambitions, there’s a ... Read More

Cuba backs Iran’s nuclear program, vows to defy sanctions

| December 13th, 2012 | No Comments »
Press TV The Cuban foreign minister has reaffirmed Havana’s determination to support Tehran’s nuclear energy program and strengthen mutual cooperation to counter Western embargos.

At a meeting with Ali Asghar Khaji, the Iranian deputy foreign minister for Europe and Americas, in the Cuban capital city of Havana on Thursday, Bruno Eduardo Rodriguez Parrilla, hailed Iran-Cuba ties as “strategic” and voiced his country’s support for the Islamic Republic’s nuclear energy program.

He expressed Havana’s preparedness to enhance bilateral ties with Tehran in high technology and exchange experience to counter the effects of the “plots and sanctions [imposed on both countries] by the common enemy.”

The Cuban foreign minister also praised the amiable relations between the two countries and expressed optimism that Cuban President Raul Castro will visit Iran next year.

Khaji, for his part, conveyed the greetings of the Iranian officials to the Cuban leaders and expressed Iran’s preparedness to participate in Cuba’s economic and ... Read More

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