|Asia News Digest
Japan, Korea Respond to Nuclear War Threat
Two weeks' bombardment with Lyndon LaRouche's "Guns of August" story in Tokyo and Seoul met with terrified silence, the departure of most officials, activists, and even reporters on August vacation, and total media blackout, showing the hysteria described by LaRouche. On Aug. 10, however, reality began to sink in. "We have had the Valerie Plame Wilson-Karl Rove scandal here, but not a word on war with Iran," a Korean diplomat told EIR Aug. 10. He continued, "Even the Iranian actions at their reactor are hardly reported. I could send this story to my ministry's non-proliferation bureau and bury it, but I won't. This is of the highest strategic importance and I'm sending this straight to the top."
"We thought it was impossible for the neo-cons to open a second-front war, as they have no spare troops, so we've not given this the attention it deserves," a top Japanese ministry official said. "We were wrong. Let me get on top of this immediately," he added.
'Japan Election Crisis Is Hyper-Unstable: Anything Could Happen'
The decisive defeat last week of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's attempt to ram through a privatization of the postal system has created a government crisis in Japan. EIR spoke to a well-placed anti-neo-con Japanese analyst in Tokyo Aug. 10, who had the following to say: "The Japan election crisis is hyper-unstable; anything could happen. The good news is that opposition to the neo-cons is now growing in Japan, as shown in the revolt against the postal savings privatization," But, he warned, media opinion polls putting Koizumi and the opposition Democratic Party neck and neck at 47% vs. 46% of the vote were "pretty much accurate; the vote could go either way."
"The bad news is: Because a revolt is growing, we should expect the neo-cons to stage some incident," he also warned. In May, the same source warned of a potential terrorist incident using the Aum cult in Japan, but said that this now seems less likely due to all the exposure of this by him, EIR, and other networks. He predicted now something more like the financial scandals which usually cripple politicians, targetted against the opponents of Koizumi.
Pakistan Official Held Meetings with Taliban Leader
Under instruction from his boss, President Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's Interior Minister, Moinuddin Haider, has met with Taliban supremo, the one-eyed Mullah Omar, three times since 9/11, the Afghanistan Online news agency reported Aug. 9.
In an interview with a private TV channel, Lt. Gen. Haider said: "I met the Taliban chief before and after 9/11 on President Musharraf's directives, and informed him about reservations of the international community regarding their style of government, giving refuge to Osama bin Laden, and running training camps."
During this time, U.S. troops were combing half of Afghanistan and Pakistan in a hunt for Mullah Omar and other top Taliban. It is likely that a similar confession will be heard regarding Osama himself.
U.S. Wants Peshawar Commander Out
Although Pakistan is not yet officially under U.S. occupation, Washington has informed Islamabad that it must remove the Pakistani Army's Peshawar commander, Lt. Gen. Safdar Hussein, and some of his subordinate officers.
Is Lt. Gen. Safdar at fault? According to the report of departing Commander of the Coalition forces in Afghanistan, U.S. Lt. Gen. David Barno, the Peshawar Corps, under Hussein, was "mingling with Taliban remnants, and they had been putting up highly skilled infantry battles with Barno's forces in the past 11 months." Barno said captured weaponry, ranging from AK-47s and mine-laying equipment, to SAMs, all bore Pakistani ordnance markings.
It seems Barno has a whole lot of growing up to do.
Dutch Told CIA About Qadeer Khan in 1975
In an interview with Dutch Public Radio on August 9, former Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers said the Dutch authorities had told the CIA, way back in 1975, and then twice during the mid-1980s, about Pakistani engineer Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan's nuclear proliferation activities. The CIA told the Dutch not to arrest him: "[G]ive us all the information, but do not hold the man. Let him go, we will follow him and get more information." Thirty years later, following a revelation by the Libyans, the world came to know from Dr. Khan himself that he had passed on nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea, and Iraq.
Dr. Khan was a metallurgist working in The Netherlands between 1974 and 1986. He was in and out of The Netherlands during this period and had carried the design of a uranium enrichment centrifuge with him.
WHO in Search of Bird Flu vaccine
Lee Jong Wook, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), announced that WHO is looking to acquire 1 million doses of the antiviral Tamiflu, the only drug known to be effective against avian influenza in humans, the Wall Street Journal reported Aug. 10. Talks are in progress with Roche Holding AG, in Switzerland.
In an interview with the Bangkok Post on Aug. 9, Dr. Lee said the best way to control the virus if it begins to spreading to humans, is to hit it hard at the source, with wealthier nations sharing their stocks. U.S. stocks are reported to have enough Tamiflu for 2.3 million people, while Britain, France, Finland, Norway, and New Zealand are placing orders that would cover 20-40% of their populations. Oseltamivir has been singled out by WHO as the drug of choice to restrict spread of bird flu.
Dr. Wook added: "It doesn't really make sense to say: "This is mine. On a map, we deal with boundaries, but the virus doesn't carry a passport or visa."
India, China Discuss Joint Bidding for Oil and Gas Fields
India and China discussed the possibility of joint bidding for oil and gas fields, at a meeting in Beijing Aug. 8. Talmiz Ahmad, who is Additional Secretary for International Cooperation in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, said, as he left Delhi for Beijing: "I am going to China to explore possibilities of cooperation. We are looking at identifying specific areas of cooperation." Ahmad will meet senior Chinese oil industry officials and visit Chinese oil and gas installations and facilities. Press Trust of India reported that analysts attach high importance to the meeting. The focus for cooperation would include Central Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Talmiz Ahmad also said that both India and China are concerned with achieving energy security. "We see in this similarity of approach possibilities of bilateral cooperation," he said.
India's Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar is due to visit China for five days in early November "to prepare the ground," Ahmad added. Also, Indian media reports have quoted Oil Secretary S.C. Tripathi as saying New Delhi wants to drop its competition with China and join hands with Beijing for oil and gas acquisitions.
China imports about one-third of its oil supplies and accounts for about 7% of world oil demand, while India has to import nearly 70%.
Drop in Grain Prices Hits China's Huge Rural Sector
China's grain prices fell in the first half of 2005, for the first time in recent years. This will hit the incomes of China's vast rural sector of some 800-900 million people, the Beijing-based Economic Information Daily reported. Grain prices rose 26.4% last year, giving a 12.5% increase to rural incomes, but this spring they fell by 1.7% in April, 1.6% in May, and 1.1% in June.
Rural incomes will also be hit because the number of the rural migrants to the citieswho send funds back to their villagesgrew at a slower pace this year.