From Volume 37, Issue 28 of EIR Online, Published July 23, 2010
Asia News Digest

India's Satellite Constellation To Provide Security Information

July 16 (EIRNS)—By launching five satellites in space this week, India has now created a "critical constellation" of ten active remote sensing satellites in space, which gives it a clear edge in the region for monitoring borders and movements across them. Called the "cartosats," these satellites are also capable of mapping and infrastructure development from their high perch. Asked by the media about the latest cartosats' applications in surveillance, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) chairman K. Radhakrishnan said, "Depending on the user's imagination, [they] can be used for surveillance and intelligence [gathering]."

A combination of four cartosats (1, 2, 2A, and 2B), hovering 630 km (almost 400 miles) above Earth, allows India to keep areas under close and prolonged surveillance. Multiple satellites ensure that a particular geographical area can be revisited every 48 hours. Three of the cartosats now in orbit have a spatial resolution of less than one meter (0.8 m for Cartosat-2B), which means that they can observe and photograph objects smaller than a car. Cartosats use panchromatic cameras to take black and white pictures of Earth.

Going around in a 630-km high polar, sun-synchronous orbit, Cartosat-2B carries a 64GB solid-state recorder which stores images which can be later transmitted to the ground station when the satellite comes within the visibility range.

China Buys Unprecedented Amounts of Uranium for Nuclear Power

July 15 (EIRNS)—China is currently buying "unprecedented" amounts of uranium to ensure supplies for its fast-expanding nuclear power sector, the China Daily reported from Beijing. China now has 13 nuclear plants under construction and, as Xu Yuming, executive director of the China Nuclear Energy Association, announced in Beijing July 6, is planning to build at least 60 new reactors by 2020.

China could buy some 5,000 metric tons of uranium in 2010, over twice its usual consumption, in order to build stockpiles for new reactors, Thomas Neff, a physicist and uranium-industry analyst at MIT, said in a telephone interview. "They are essentially stockpiling in anticipation of new reactor build," Neff said. "They are stockpiling like crazy."

The World Nuclear Association reports that Chinese demand for uranium may rise to 20,000 tons a year by 2020, more than a third of the 50,572 tons mined globally last year.

Cameco Corp. of Canada, the world's second-largest uranium producer, also confirms China's big uranium purchases, PTI reported from Beijing July 13. Senior Vice President George Assie told a conference call that Chinese utilities have bought some 3,600 metric tons of uranium this year on the spot market. "The stockpile there is for a very specific reason and that is to feed the reactors under construction," Assie said. On June 24, Cameco signed an agreement with China Nuclear Energy Corporation to supply some 10,000 tons of uranium over the next decade.

Pentagon Blusters, But Discretion Wins, as Korea Talks Begin

July 15 (EIRNS)—The Pentagon confirmed that the joint military exercises with South Korea will be held both in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) and the Yellow Sea, whenever they are held. Exact timing and other details about the exercise will be made jointly by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and their counterparts, when the U.S. team visits Seoul next week.

Making the announcement, with traditional Pentagon bluster, spokesman Geoff Morrell said, "But this is a matter of our ability to exercise in open seas, in international waters. Those determinations are made by us and us alone." The Chinese have loudly and continuously objected to any exercises being held in the Yellow Sea, especially using the nuclear-armed carrier, the USS George Washington. However, Korean sources indicate that any carrier portion of the exercise, or other sensitive deployment, will not be carried out in the Yellow Sea, but farther away from Chinese vital waters.

Also on July 14, U.S. and North Korean lower-level officers held military talks in Panmunjom to discuss arrangements for further high-level discussion on the sinking of the Cheonan. The talks lasted for 90 minutes. No details were disclosed, but military officers from the U.S.-led United Nations Command (UNC) and North Korea have agreed "in principle" to hold general-level talks, an official at the UNC said.

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