|Asia News Digest
India Claims Development of Anti-Missile Capability
According to Indian military sources who spoke to EIR on Nov. 27, a target Prithvi surface-to-surface missile was launched from the Integrated Missile Test range at Chandipur along the Orissa coast. The missile was picked up in a few minutes by monitoring radars, and was successfully intercepted by another Prithvi missile fired from Wheeler's Islands. "It is a historic day," said a Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) scientist.
The sources said more such interception exercises, termed the Prithvi Air Defense Exercises, will be undertaken in the future. However, the Indian military made clear that the success does not ensure that the DRDO is anywhere close to deploying an effective anti-missile shield for the country any time soon.
The success of the test comes in the wake of a barrage of criticism targetted at DRDO's failure with the Trishul naval project as an anti-missile shield for ships. The failure of the Trishul led the Indian Navy to buy the Barak anti-missile system from Israel in 1999-2000. Barak systems are purely for defense of naval ships from incoming missiles.
IAEA Approves Pakistan's Nuclear Power Plant
In a major development, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has approved the safeguards agreement between Pakistan and the IAEA for application of safeguards on Pakistan's Chashma Nuclear Power Plant Unit-2 (CHASNUPP-2), Daily News Analysis reported from Islamabad Nov. 25. The plant was designed by the China National Nuclear Corporation as a replica of its first indigenous reactor, Qinshan-1.
"The approval of the agreement is a success for Pakistan and recognition of its non-proliferation commitments," said Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman. Pakistan is one of the three non-NPT signatory nations that enjoys the right of concluding such a safeguards agreement.
Chinese President Hu Jintao, who recently visited Pakistan, said on Nov. 25, that Beijing would continue to help Pakistan with its nuclear power industry, but he did not announce any new deal with Islamabad.
Pakistani Foreign Minister 'Stuns' NATO Commanders
Pakistan's foreign minister advised NATO to include the Taliban in the government, not confront it, according to the Telegraph Nov. 29. While NATO commanders at Riga pledged to stay the course to restore peace and stability in Afghanistan, more sage advice came from Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khursheed Ahmed Kasuri. Kasuri, in a private briefing to foreign ministers of some NATO member-states, told them that the Taliban are winning the war in Afghanistan and NATO is bound to fail. These remarks were made on the eve of NATO's summit in Riga.
According to Ahmed Rashid, a veteran Pakistani journalist, Kasuri's briefing "stunned" the Western ministers. One Western official told him: "Kasuri is basically asking NATO to surrender and to negotiate with the Taliban."
But Kasuri repeated what Lt. Gen. Mohammad Jan Orakzai, Governor of Pakistan's volatile Northwest Frontier Province had stated publicly earlier. He said on one occasion that the U.S., Britain, and NATO have already failed in Afghanistan. "Either it is a lack of understanding, or it is a lack of courage to admit their failure," the general said. Orakzai had masterminded the "peace deal" between the Pakistani army and the heavily Talibanized Pushtun tribes. The "peace deal" was, however, a sham carried out to withdraw the Pakistani army and leave the tribal areas in the hands of the armed Talibanized Pushtuns.
Meanwhile, aides of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf claim that Musharraf has virtually "given up" on Afghan President Karzai and is awaiting a change of face in Kabul before he offers more help.
Prince Andrew Peddles Biofuels to Hungry Filipinos
The United Kingdom's Prince Andrew, who is the UK's Special Representative for Trade and Investment, was in the Philippines for a two-day visit Nov. 23-24, offering to "invest" in turning even more agricultural land over to biofuel production, the Philippines Inquirer reported Nov. 26. The Philippines, once a leader in rice exports, now imports rice, while about 15% of the population is going hungry. But the Department of Foreign Affairs, following meetings between the Prince and President Gloria Arroyo, said that Andrew "showed interest in coco diesel fuel, the cultivation of Philippine jatropha trees, sugar and cassava to reduce dependency on pollution-causing fuels." Let them eat cake...
The Prince also praised Gloria for sending so many nurses to work in the UK, who are "highly admired for their industriousness." Perhaps he didn't have time to tour the rural hospitals, or the urban public hospitals used by the poor, where the critical shortage of doctors and nurses is killing people at an increasing rate.
Badawi: West's Assault on Islam Is 'Grave Threat'
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi warned that the assault on Islam by the West is "one of the gravest threats to international stability in the history of the world," according to AFP Nov. 29. Speaking at a UN event in Malaysia, Badawi said that the ties between Muslims and Christians are under "extreme stress" and called on the UN to hold a special conference to address the schism.
"The Muslim world sees the suppression of Palestine, the invasion of Afghanistan, the conquest of Iraq, and the destruction of Lebanon as a complicity to humiliate Muslim countries," said Badawi, who is currently the chairman of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). "Muslims see the refusal of the Christian West to acknowledge Islam as a way of life for all Muslims as intolerance and arrogance," he said. Abdullah said secularism in Western societies, especially Europe, had seen religion removed from the public domain. "They expect Muslims, especially those living in their societies, to do the same," he said, which is contrary to the Muslim faith.
Development Bank Loan To Build China's East-West Railroad
The Asian Development Bank is lending China US$300 million to help build the first east-west railroad to connect Shanxi Province to Ningxia Hui Region, which is a poor, remote area on the border of Inner Mongolia in north-central China. The 944-km railway line that will become the shortest east-west corridor linking eastern China's big cities and ports including Beijing, Huanghua, and Qingdao, to the western cities of Yinchuan, Zhongwei, Lanzhou, and Urumqi. This is a new corridor of the Second Euro-Asian Continental Bridge, which links China's east coast to Kazakhstan, and ultimately, western Europe. The project will help develop China's interior.
China has "an aggressive plan" to improve its railways, which have the highest freight transport density in the world and the second-highest passenger transport density after Japan, the ADB reported Nov. 29.
China and India To Establish 'Civil Nuclear Cooperation'
A statement by China and India that they will join in a "civil nuclear cooperation" is "the first time that a reference to civil nuclear cooperation has been made in a joint document at this level," The Hindu quoted C.V. Ranganathan, a former Indian Ambassador to China, on Nov. 22.
The joint declaration, which was released after the meeting of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese President Hu Jintao, said that the two sides consider the expansion of civil nuclear energy to be an "essential and important component of their national plans to ensure energy security," and "agree to promote cooperation in the field of nuclear energy, consistent with their respective international commitments." The declaration states that there is need for an "international energy order," and for global energy systems to take into account the needs of both countries based on a "stable, predictable, secure and clean energy future.... In this context, international civilian nuclear cooperation should be advanced through innovative and forward-looking approaches, while safeguarding the effectiveness of international non-proliferation principles.
"As two countries with advanced scientific capabilities, they stress the importance of further deepening cooperation bilaterally as well as through multilateral projects such as ITER [International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor], and enhance exchanges in the related academic fields."
C.V. Ranganathan said that the reference to non-proliferation principles should be seen "in the context of Chinese concern about the repercussions from North Korea's recent nuclear test, as well Beijing's lingering unhappiness at the Indian nuclear tests of 1998," The Hindu wrote. The potential discussion of nuclear cooperation, indicates China might be revising its opposition to the July 2005 India-U.S. nuclear deal. What China opposes, is the U.S. "unilateralism" in bending non-proliferation rules for only certain friends and allies, more than whether India can access nuclear energy technology, The Hindu wrote.
In 1995, China had supplied low-enriched uranium for India's Tarapur reactor, and earlier, in the 1980s, India "apparently" sourced heavy water from China. This was before June 2004, when China joined the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group, and began to abide by NSG rules. Earlier, according to Chinese government papers, Chinese nuclear exports were to be based on adherence to three principles: guarantee for peaceful use, acceptance of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, and no retransfer of nuclear material to a third country without prior permission. "Thus, the sale of nuclear equipment and material to safeguarded Indian facilities was totally consistent with Chinese law till 2004," The Hindu wrote.