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NightWatch 20100616


For the Night of 16 June 2010

The Korean Confrontation

US-North Korea: In a letter to the U.S. Congress, President Obama extended sanctions on North Korea for another year, Xinhua reported 16 June. The existence and risk of the proliferation of weapons-usable fissile material on the Korean peninsula continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, the administration wrote.

Russia: The Russian ambassador to South Korea said today that Russian experts will require "two or three weeks more" before reaching their own conclusion about the probe results on the sunken South Korean warship, Yonhap reported 16 June.

The Russian leadership finds it crucially important to objectively and scientifically establish the true cause of the sinking of the ship and to identify those responsible with full certainty, he stated. Russia is ready to address this problem in close cooperation with South Korea and other interested states, within the framework of the U.N. Security Council and between the capitals

Turkey-Iraq: Update. The Turkish General Staff said in a statement posted on its website that Turkish forces penetrated some couple of kilometers into northern Iraq to track down a group of terrorists after warding off an attack on a Turkish military post on the border earlier in the day.

The military said three commando companies and one special operations force battalion had crossed 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) into Iraqi territory, and Turkish aircraft attacked Kurdish mortar and anti-aircraft units farther into Iraq. The military said four rebels had been killed in the attack

Comment: Kurdish PKK fighters have increased attacks on Turkish security forces, killing nearly three dozen Turkish troops in the last two months. This is a reminder of unsettled security business with the Kurds on Turkey's borders with Syria, Iraq and Iran.

The General Staff postings also seem to target the Erdogan government with a reminder that Turkey has security problems much more important and pressing than supporting aid shipments to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and picking unnecessary fights with former allies.

The Gaza confrontation

Israel: The government warned on 16 June that attempts by three Iranian and Lebanese ships to break the blockade of Gaza will be seen as a breach of law and a hostile act because the ships are from enemy states, DPA reported, citing an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman. The ships are expected to be sent later in the week

Turkey: The Turkish organization, the Foundation for the Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Aid (IHH) has told European Parliament members that another aid flotilla will be sent to the Gaza Strip, Haaretz reported 16 June. International media has been invited to inspect the ships' goods prior to departure in the second half of July to "demonstrate their commitment to total transparency," according to the group. The IHH has assembled six ships and encouraged others to join.

Israel declared the IHH a terrorist organization today because of its links to other international terrorist groups.

European Union: European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton spoke on the phone with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss regional developments, specifically the Israeli blockade of Gaza, Xinhua reported 16 June.

Ashton said the EU may send a naval mission to Gaza to help control the transit of goods if Israel decides to lift its blockade, EU Business reported. Such an option would be "more complex" than merely monitoring land transit into Gaza, Ashton said. The EU supports the opening of other land crossings into Gaza, in addition to reactivating its mission at the Rafah crossing -- inactive since 2005.

Note: Except for Egyptian actions at the land border, open source media report no Arab support of significance for the HAMAS regime in the Gaza Strip.

Venezuela-Russia: For the record. Fulfilling a contract to deliver Russian S-300 advanced air defense missile systems to Venezuela will go as planned, Rosoboronexport Director Anatoliy Isaykin said on 16 June, RIA Novosti reported. RIA Novosti commented that the US actively opposes this transaction.

Comment:  If this system is delivered, it is an indirect provocation against the US as a proliferation of advanced weapons in this hemisphere. Another concern is that Venezuela might be a party to a tripartite arrangement with Iran and Russia whereby the S-300 in some form ends up in Iran despite the sanctions, after passing through Venezuela.

End of NightWatch for 16 June.

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