Government paper claims American facility targets Russian, Iran, others
Editor’s Note: The following report is excerpted from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium online newsletter published by the founder of WND. Subscriptions are $99 a year or, for monthly trials, just $9.95 per month for credit card users, and provide instant access for the complete reports.
China is becoming concerned by the increased presence of the United States in Afghanistan and is complaining about the U.S. lease renewal at the Manas Air Base in neighboring Kyrgyzstan, suggesting that these activities are part of an overall containment effort against China, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The complaint comes at the same time Chinese officials have expressed alarm over what they view as a growing alliance between the U.S. and India, which they perceive as designed to alter the Asian strategic balance in what Beijing always has regarded as its sphere of influence.
According to security analysts, the Chinese perceive the recent efforts by the U.S. in Central and South Asia as intended to force the Chinese to move troops away from the East where Beijing thinks the U.S. wants to increase its presence.
While this could lessen pressure somewhat on Taiwan, the analysts add that it forces Beijing to move more troops to the west where it also is encountering increased unrest with its Muslim Uighurs in its province of Xinjiang.
Keep in touch with the most important breaking news stories about critical developments around the globe with Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium, online intelligence news source edited and published by the founder of WND.
The Hong Kong Ta Kung Pao, a Chinese government-owned newspaper, claims the U.S. was seeking to “achieve its blockade of Russia in the north, deterrence of China in the east, suppression of Iran in the south, control of petroleum energy resources, anti-terror, and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, firmly occupy Afghanistan politically, resources-wise, and militarily and gradually control Central Asia comprehensively and then proceed to control the Eurasian continent and serve the protection of its world hegemony.”
Ta Kung Pao, like other official government newspapers, is closely associated with the Communist Party of China, Beijing’s supreme political authority, with control over all state apparatuses as well as the legislative process.
In commenting on the recent renewal of the lease at Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan just outside of the capital, Bishkek, Ta Kung Pao regarded continued U.S. presence there as a military threat.
“The deployment of a modern military force toward China’s weakest western region enables U.S. military power to point straight at our northwestern borders for the first time against the Cold War, contain the momentum of China’s power from pressing onward from the eastern region into the East Pacific, form a situation that allows the cutoff at any time of the energy lifeline in the Central Asian region on which China depends most, and also turn China’s original great strategic rear into a new strategic front,” Ta Kung Pao said. “Therefore, it can be said that Manas poses a direct military threat to our Xinjiang and western region.”
With concerns rising about a possible North Korean long-range missile test this weekend, two independent scientists say the regime may be using an old Soviet ballistic missile to boost a rocket capable of reaching the West Coast of the United States.
But the scientists say that if North Korea does have such a Russian-made ballistic missile in its arsenal, it could modify the rocket into a two-stage missile that could reach Seattle, Wash., carrying a 900-kilogram warhead, or San Francisco carrying a 700-kilogram charge.
The design of a long-range missile tested by North Korea last April “represents a very significant advance in rocket technology,” said Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Ted Postol and Union of Concerned Scientists’ David Wright in a June 29 assessment published in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
Using data and imagery from North Korea’s April 4 launch, Postol and Wright calculated that the second stage of the North Korean rocket had the external dimensions, engine power and key features of an SS-N 6, a Soviet submarine-launched ballistic missile first deployed in 1968.
Their theory is at odds with U.S. officials’ skepticism of the recent North Korean long-range missile launch, dismissed as a failure.
Missile expert and former U.N. arms inspector Mike Elleman cautioned against assuming that the similarities between the external dimensions of the North Korean second stage and the SS-N 6 mean that the two are the same technology.
But Elleman added that the coincidence is hard to explain.
Geoffrey Forden, another missile expert with MIT, sees merit in the Russian missile theory and believes North Korea may have its own production line for SS-N 6 missile components.
FROM BEN SMITH
Miss California, Carrie Prejean, who offered memorable opposition (above) to same-sex marriage and a young, attractive new face for the movement against it, will appear tomorrow at a press conference hosted by the National Organization for Marriage at the National Press Club, according to a press release from the group.
She’ll be launching a new ad, the second in what the group says is a $1.5 million campaign.
The ad, the release says, will address:
What happens when a young California beauty pageant contestant is asked, “Do you support same-sex marriage?” She is attacked viciously for having the courage to speak up for her truth and her values. But Carrie’s courage inspired a whole nation and a whole generation of young people because she chose to risk the Miss USA crown rather than be silent about her deepest moral values. “No Offense” calls gay marriage advocates to account for their unwillingness to debate the real issue: Gay marriage has consequences.
By Andrea Shea King
Air Force officer: ‘It shows a kind of arrogance’
An Air Force officer who served in the Clinton White House and for two years carried the “nuclear football” briefcase of codes says it’s almost certain that the “highest levels” of the Obama administration knew about and approved this week’s stunt in which Air Force One buzzed New York City.
Retired Lt. Col. Buzz Patterson served in Clinton’s White House from 1996 to 1998 and was responsible for the president’s “emergency satchel,” the black bag of nuclear codes that accompanies the president at all times.
He wrote “Reckless Disregard” and “Dereliction of Duty” after his retirement from the military.
During an interview on “The Andrea Shea King Show” last night, he said, “I can’t imagine that anyone who works in the Air Force thought that was a good idea. I have worked in the White House and having worked for the Military Office, with the guys at Andrews Air Force Base and the ground crews, that (decision) had to come down from on high.”
Among the procedures with which he became familiar during his work with Clinton were those involving the preparation of the president’s 747 jet for flight.
“It defies my belief that the White House staff did not know they were launching the 747 to go up and do this. So it had to come down from the White House. It wouldn’t have been done on behalf of the folks at Andrews (Air Force Base). It would have been done at the direction of the White House,” he said.
Patterson said the low-flying escapade over Manhattan clearly was not an oversight.
“The White House Military Office director is the Obama appointee – Caldera in this particular situation. So, he got the notification, he got the direction from somebody – I’m guessing Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff would probably be the person behind this.”
Does that mean the president also knew?
“I’m guessing he probably did. Did Emanuel know about it? I guarantee you he did. It did not come from the Andrews folks. It came from on high,” Patterson said.
He said the stunt reveals the judgment level in the Obama White House.
“I think that it shows you… quite clearly the lack of knowledge, the lack of focus or the understanding the Obama White House has toward the military, much like my former boss President Bill Clinton. I think it also shows a kind of arrogance to using toys – I’m sure that would be a phrase President Obama might use, his ‘toys’ – to get photo op shots around New York City and not recall or remember what happened on 9/11 and the fact that it might have caused some alarm. And I think really, it shows again a hundred days, a hundred mistakes with the Obama administration.”
Patterson explained the process that would have had to take place to get the jumbo jet in the air.
“The White House Military Office would have called the presidential pilot office at Andrews and said, ‘We want to get this airplane airborne. We want to get some photo ops over New York City. We want to get some photos with the statue of Liberty in the background or the Empire State Building or whatever, and we’ll have a couple of aircraft with it taking pictures of the airplane with the background of New York City. And that’s what happened,” he said.
Though Patterson believes the responsibility for the flights estimated to cost more than $300,000 resides at the highest levels, Military Office Director Louis Caldera has accepted the responsibility. In a statement released Wednesday, Caldera said:
“Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that decision. While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it’s clear that the mission created confusion and disruption. I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused.”
But Patterson isn’t buying it.
“No doubt Caldera is taking the hit for this… that’s kind of how the Obama administration works, much like the Clinton administration – they have to push this down to the lowest level that it’ll actually stick. So they had to push this down to ‘Who can we cut loose?’ And I guarantee you he’ll be fired within the next week or two. This façade of an investigation and a review of what happened will end up on his desktop and he’ll be fired. … But it probably wasn’t his fault. It probably came from above, and he was the person, the lackey, executing the orders to do this. He called Andrews and the Andrews Wing Commander got involved and the president’s pilot squadron got involved and so this thing happened. So he’ll probably be the guy that’s the scapegoat.”
Patterson currently flies for a carrier on a route crossing the nation.
“I fly an airplane out of Los Angeles into New York City all the time. I fly a large airplane. In NYC airspace at any point in time, especially during the day during normal waking hours to fly over the city like at that low level, it’s almost impossible to coordinate with the FAA. So there was a lot of coordination done on this, a lot of advance legwork and groundwork done on this.”
“It boggles my mind because when I fly into New York City, we have to stay on this straight and narrow path that you cannot deviate virtually by feet, and here’s a 747 that’s got the approval to fly all over the city at low level and again, scare the people of New York. It just defies description,” he said.
“I can’t imagine as a pilot, and an Air Force officer and a former Clinton administration official, I can’t imagine who thought that was a good idea!”
It’s just the latest evidence of mistaken judgment, he said.
“The releasing of the CIA interrogation stuff, which is a farce; the fact that he flies to Iowa on Earth Day in a 747 to talk about saving and preserving our resources and fuel; the fact that he launches an empty airplane to New York City for a photo op; this is exactly out of the playbook of President Bill Clinton in my time at the White House. It’s remarkably and scarily similar,” Patterson said.
“I think that they are – much like the Clinton administration – incredibly ignorant and devoid of reality when it comes to this country. They didn’t even think about the impact this might have, because they don’t understand that the war on terror is a real war on terror. They’ve changed the verbiage. They’ve changed the terms,” he said.
“The fact that they would fly a large airplane over a city that was attacked on 9/11 and the response of the people of New York was obviously 180 from what the Obama people thought. They just assumed there’d be no reaction because they don’t feel there’s a threat out there? They don’t understand that this country is still at war with terrorists and with the people who want to change our way of life. Instead, we’re shaking hands with Hugo Chavez; we’re shaking hands and brushing up with Hamas and Iran. We’re doing all these things that the Bush administration never would have even considered imaginable. So I think it shows not only arrogance, but more importantly, more troublingly to me, it shows that they’re just out of touch.
“I find it incredible with our current economic situation that we’re flying 747s empty anywhere in the country, much less for a photo op. And again, they’re so wantonly careless about this,” he said.
TV stations cave to homosexual lobby, refuse to reveal LGBT agenda
By Chelsea Schilling
Several television stations are caving to pressure from the homosexual community and refusing to run “Speechless: Silencing Christians,” a one-hour paid program sponsored by the American Family Association.
WOOD-TV 8, a television station in Grand Rapids, Mich., has decided against airing the special about the agenda of homosexual activists and their impact on families and freedom of religion.
According to the Grand Rapids Press, “In a letter promoting the program, the American Family Association asserts that most Americans get their ‘information about the homosexual movement from the secular news media and Hollywood, which not only support but promote the gay agenda. What people know is tainted by pro-homosexual propaganda.’”
“Speechless” features stories about Christians who have been arrested and charged with felonies for preaching the gospel. According to the film, many are living in situations where they have been intimidated into silence.
A former lesbian speaks about her conversion to Christianity.
“The gay community wants tolerance,” she said. “They can’t tolerate a story like mine that says, you know, I used to be gay, but with the help of Jesus, I’ve been able to overcome that.”
According to one man in the film, Christians are often portrayed as “mean and hateful.”
“It creates a context where violence is being perpetrated against Christians,” he said.
The special, hosted by talk show host Janet Parshall, emphasizes the media’s role in promotion of homosexuals’ “radical agenda,” and includes examples of how television shows and movies such as “Friends,” “Will & Grace,” “The L-Word,” “The War at Home,” “ER” and “Entourage” attempt to persuade viewers that aversions to homosexuality stem from bigotry and ignorance.
“Speechless” explores the homosexual lobby’s impact on school curriculums. Videos promoted as anti-bullying actually endorsed “gay” lifestyles, and students were forced to view them during school hours. It claims homosexual lobbyists also push for “gay” literature in schools.
According to the program, the homosexual activist agenda demands same-sex “marriage,” teaches children that homosexuality is normal, promotes homosexual service in the armed forces, pushes for hate crime laws that threaten freedom of speech, calls for laws forcing Christian business to hire homosexuals and insists upon reserving minority status and preferential treatment for them.
“If you think that agenda is bad for America, you must do something,” a female voiceover states.
While WOOD-TV 8 moved the original airing from a Monday slot before President Barack Obama’s 8 p.m. news conference to a Saturday afternoon spot, it finally decided against running it altogether.
“We made a gesture of the 2-3 p.m. Saturday time period. It’s been 24 hours and we had no response,” station General Manager Diane Kniowski told the Grand Rapids Press in a statement Wednesday.
“Our station is being bombarded with calls and messages, and we find ourselves in the middle of someone else’s fight. Ours was a fair offer and we are removing ourselves from this matter,” Kniowski said.
The Human Rights Campaign, a pro-homosexual organization, issued a national alert against the film and urged people to call for its cancellation.
“I am so proud of our members who answered the lies and distortions of the AFA and stopped this campaign of hate and deception,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Our community stood up and would not let those lies stand.”
“This should be our wake up call. We are poised to make real progress, for the first time, for millions of LGBT Americans. We know it and so do our opponents,” added Solmonese. “We must stand guard and not allow them to stop these overdue, basic protections by rolling out the same, tired script albeit in new packaging.”
He continued, “Today’s action proves we have the voices and the power to demand a fair fight and a fair debate.”
Arabs fear that the Obama administration’s expected efforts to engage Tehran might lead to a deal that would bring U.S. and Iran closer at the expense of Arab interests.
Saud stressed that resolution of disputes among Arabs depended on “a unified and a joint vision” in dealing with the “Iranian challenge in regard to the Arabian Gulf security and the nuclear issue.”
The Arabian Gulf is also known as the Persian Gulf.
Growing influence of Shiite Iran
The predominantly Sunni Arab Middle East has been wary of the growing influence of Shiite Iran, and Saud’s comments were a clear call for Arab unity.
His remarks came a day after he and his Arab counterparts expressed their concerns about Iran to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The ministers and Clinton met on the sidelines of an international conference in Egypt that raised $5.2 billion in pledges to rebuild the devastated Gaza Strip after Israel’s recent offensive.
Last week, Clinton announced the appointment of veteran diplomat Dennis Ross as her special adviser on matters related to the Gulf, including overtures to the Iranians.
Clinton assured the Arab ministers that Washington is carefully considering its moves and will consult fully with Gulf allies on Iran issues.
Arab League chief Amr Moussa said after the ministers’ meeting in Cairo that Arabs must be kept informed about Iran.
“I demand that no foreign (power) talks to Iran without Arabs being aware of it and having a role in the process,” Moussa said.
Wants Iran on the agenda
Bahrain had asked the ministers to put Iran on the agenda of the Arab League meeting, amid growing concerns in the tiny Gulf kingdom that Iran still holds longtime claims to the island. Bahrain is ruled by a Sunni elite, but its Shiite majority has close ties to Iran.
Also Tuesday in Cairo, Saud and his Egyptian counterpart met with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem in efforts to bridge the rift between the two U.S.-allied Arab powerhouses and the Iran-backed Syria.
Rush Limbaugh: Lowery ‘just insulted this country’
By Chelsea Schilling
Outrage is erupting over the inauguration benediction by Rev. Joseph Lowery, an 87-year-old civil rights pioneer, for asking God to help mankind work for a day when “white would embrace what is right.”
Lowery, known for co-founding the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King Jr., opened with a quote from the “Black National Anthem.” He then asked God to encourage America to make “choices on the side of love, not hate, on the side of inclusion not exclusion, tolerance not intolerance” after President Barack Obama took the presidential oath.
Then he ended his prayer with, “Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around – when yellow will be mellow – when the red man can get ahead, man – and when white will embrace what is right.”
Obama reacted to the benediction with a smile.
The crowd cheered and boomed with a loud “Amen.”
However, talk radio host Rush Limbaugh said Lowery’s prayer “offended” and was “far more memorable than the inaugural address by President Obama.”
Referring to Lowery’s “When black will not be asked to get in back” comment, Limbaugh responded, “When does that happen today? Did we not just inaugurate a black man as president of the United States?”
Limbaugh went through each statement about color, attempting to decipher Lowery’s intended message.
“I know it’s a left over from the ’60s thing,” he said. “It’s not relevant today! Everybody here is living in the past, and they don’t want anybody to think we’ve made any progress at all despite inaugurating Barack Obama as president today.”
Repeating Lowery’s “When white will embrace what is right” statement, Limbaugh said, “He just insulted this country, large numbers of which elected Barack Obama president of the United States.”
Several angry bloggers posted reactions to Lowery’s prayer, including the following:
- Didn’t whites just do that by electing Jesus Christ president?
- Am I allowed to be offended?
- Race card pulled during the inauguration. Wow that didn’t take long.
- It is completely inappropriate to have that in any prayer, much less a prayer at an inauguration that is supposed to be about how “We’re all one.”
- Black … brown … red … yellow … white? I’m stunned. The prayer is so racist and so inappropriate. Is Rev. Lowery just a kinder, gentler Rev. Wright?
- You guys are all spelling it wrong. That’s the problem. I’m sure that if you look at his notes you’ll see that it says “… whites will embrace what is Wright.”
By Joel C. Rosenberg
(Washington, D.C., September 9, 2008) — You have probably never heard of Father Zakaria Botros.
But you need to know his story. He is far and away the most-watched and most-effective Arab-American evangelist focused on reaching the Muslim world, and by far the most controversial. The Rush Limbaugh of the Revivalists, he is funny, feisty, brilliant, opinionated, and provocative. But rather than preaching the gospel of conservatism, he is preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. And his enemies do not simply want to silence him. They want to assassinate him.
Last week, I had the honor of interviewing Botros by phone from a secure, undisclosed location in the United States, where he now resides. He told me that he had just learned that an al Qaeda website had posted his photograph and named him one of the “most wanted” infidels in the world. The Radicals have even put a bounty on his head. The Christian Broadcasting Network reported the figure was as high as $60 million. Botros does not know for certain. But just to put that in context, the U.S. bounty on Osama bin Laden’s head is “only” $25 million.
Why are the Radicals so enraged by an elderly Coptic priest from Egypt who is in his 70s? Because Botros is waging an air war against them, and he is winning.
Using state-of-the art satellite technology to bypass the efforts of Islamic governments to keep the gospel out of their countries, Botros is directly challenging the claims of Muhammad to be a prophet, and the claims of the Qu’ran to be God’s word. He systematically deconstructs Muhammad’s life, story by story, pointing out character flaws and sinful behavior. He carefully deconstructs the Qu’ran, verse by verse, citing contradictions and inconsistencies. And not only does he explain without apology what he believes is wrong with Islam, he goes on to teach Muslims from the Bible why Jesus loves them and why is so ready to forgive them and adopt them into His family, no matter who they are or what they have done.
If Botros was doing this in a corner, or on some cable access channel where no one saw him or cared, that would be one thing. But his ninety-minute program – a combination of preaching, teaching and answering questions from (often irate) callers all over the world – has become “must see TV” throughout the Muslim world. It is replayed four times a week in Arabic, his native language, on a satellite television network called Al Hayat (“Life TV.”) It can be seen in every country in North Africa, Middle East, Central Asia, as well as all throughout North America,Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. And not only can it be seen in so many places, it is seen – by an estimated fifty million Muslims a day.
At the same time, Botros is getting millions of hits on his multiple web sites in multiple languages. There, Muslims can read his sermons and study through an archive of answers to frequently asked questions. They can also enter a live chat room called “Pal Chat” where they are not only permitted but encouraged to ask their toughest questions to trained on-line counselors, many of whom are Muslim converts to Christianity who understand exactly where the questioners are coming from and the struggles they are having.
As a result, Botros – on the air only since 2003 – has practically become a household word in the Muslim world. An Arabic newspaper has named him Islam’s “Public Enemy #1.” Millions hate him, to be sure, but they are watching. They are listening. They are processing what he is saying and they are talking about him with their friends and family. When Botros challenges Radical clerics to answer his many refutations of Islam and defend the Qu’ran, millions wait to see what how the fundamentalists will respond. But they rarely do. They prefer to attack Botros than answer him. Yet, the more the Radicals attack him, the more well-known he becomes. The more well-known he becomes, the more Muslims feel compelled to tune in. And as more Muslims tune in, more are coming to the conclusion that Botros is right and in turn are choosing to become followers of Jesus Christ. Botros estimates at least 1,000 Muslims a month pray to receive Christ with his telephone counselors. Some of them pray to receive Christ live on their air with Botros. And this surely is only the tip of the iceberg, as it represents only those who are able to get through on the jammed phone lines. There simply are not currently enough trained counselors to handle each call.
Many leading Arab evangelists I have interviewed for Inside The Revolution say God is using Botros to help bring in the greatest harvest of Muslim converts to Christianity in the history of Christendom. Botros refuses to take any credit, saying is just one voice in a movement of millions. But he is certainly excited by the trend lines. He does see more Muslims turning to Christ than ever before, and he told me he has cited my book Epicenter at least three times as evidence of the enormous numbers of conversions taking place. What’s more, he vows to keep preaching the gospel so long as the Lord Jesus gives him breath. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus], that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” That verse – John 3:16 – is the verse that drives Botros. He believes passionately God loves the whole world, including each and every Muslim. He believes that “whosoever” believes in the Lordship of Jesus Christ – Jew or Muslim – will, in fact, receive eternal life. He does not believe all Muslims are Radicals, but he does believe all Muslims are spiritually lost, and he wants desperately to help them find their way to forgiveness and reconciliation with the God who made them and loves them.
“I believe this is the hand of God,” Botros told me. “He is directing me. He shows me what to say. He shows me what to write on…the web sites. He is showing me more and more how to use the technology to reach people with his message of redemption.”
Suspected of handing Tehran means of ‘mass destruction’
Editor’s Note: The following report is excerpted from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium online newsletter published by the founder of WND. Subscriptions are $99 a year or, for monthly trials, just $9.95 per month for credit card users, and provide instant access for the complete reports.
LONDON — On the day the British government increased the terror threat level from “severe” to the “upper end of severe,” Britain’s MI5 and MI6 intelligence services intensified a worldwide investigation to track the associates of three Englishmen alleged to be part of an international arms smuggling gang transporting vital military equipment to Iran, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Millions of dollars worth of sensitive items — many still on the UK’s Secret List — have been sent to the Tehran regime. Part of the investigation is to discover how the gang avoided supposedly stringent export regulations.
The material includes batteries for surface-to-air missiles and vital parts for military aircraft.
One of the alleged gang members is Farshi Gillardian, a Pakistan-born salesman based in London who was arrested earlier this week — on evidence provided by the FBI — for “attempting to supply weapons components illegally to Iran and of helping Tehran to acquire weapons of mass destruction.”
He faces extradition to the U.S. in the near future.
E-mails intercepted by MI5 indicate that the arms network is worldwide. It specializes in producing sophisticated electronic parts for roadside devices, which have killed hundreds of coalition troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Two members of the gang have vanished from the UK in the past month. One is Brian Woodford, a 77-year-old who runs a freight company from his 100-acre estate, Chalmington Manor, near Dorchester.
His wife, Laura, 63, was arrested by FBI agents last March in San Francisco coming off a flight from Hong Kong. She is now in custody awaiting trial in New York.
MI6 agents believe the two arms catalogues she was carrying were given to her by an arms salesman for the Chinese government. The documents are described as “containing weapons of mass destruction.”
Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin is the premium, online intelligence news source edited and published by the founder of WND.
FROM RIA NOVOSTI
MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti foreign news commentator Ivan Zakharchenko) – South Korea, the closest military-political ally of the United States in Asia, seems willing to become Russia’s strategic partner.
Although developments in the Caucasus have been sharply criticized in the West, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak spoke pragmatically about promoting relations with Russia during his visit to Moscow late last week.
Strategic partnership provides for economic cooperation and close diplomatic, political, security and defense ties. The joint Russian-South Korean declaration on the results of Lee Myung-bak’s visit consists of 10 points reflecting bilateral accords in different fields and includes a common assessment of Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia.
In the declaration, the sides expressed their concern over the recent situation in Georgia and their support for using peaceful means and dialogue to settle the problem.
President Lee Myung-bak is considered a conservative yet pragmatic pro-American politician. Evidence of that is his decision to open the South Korean market to beef imports from the U.S. contrary to public protests. He has also initiated talks with the U.S. to revive the close military ties eroded during the 10-year rule of Liberal Democrats, who had worked to ease tensions in relations with North Korea.
The current Seoul authorities are busy tackling economic problems, and business ties with Russia apparently influence Lee Myung-bak’s political priorities.
The South Korean president likes to speak about his visits to the Soviet Union even before diplomatic relations were established with South Korea, when he was Hyundai’s CEO. He says he has been willing to take part in developing Russia’s East Siberian and Far Eastern resources since then.
When he was in Moscow last week, Lee Myung-bak met with President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. They agreed that South Korea would participate in projects in Russia’s Far East within the federal program of economic and social development of the Far East and the Trans-Baikal Territory approved for 1996-2005 and up to 2013.
According to the South Korean government, the two countries’ striving for peace and security in Northeast Asia, their proximity to each other, and their mutually complementary economies hold promise for their relations established in September 1990.
Lee Myung-bak was accompanied to Moscow by a group of leaders of major South Korean companies. One of them, Hyundai-KIA CEO Chung Mong-koo, told journalists upon his return to Seoul that Russia could become a global automotive leader. He said the Hyundai assembly plant in the Kamenka industrial park near St. Petersburg would produce 150,000 cars annually beginning in 2011.
The two countries also signed a memorandum of understanding in the gas sector stipulating the delivery of 7.5 million metric tons of Russian natural gas to South Korea for 30 years beginning in 2015. This is approximately 20% of South Korea’s annual natural gas consumption.
The South Korean leader is fully aware that stable relations and cooperation with Russia would be impossible without political rapprochement. Besides, Seoul needs to balance the interests of Russia, the U.S., China and Japan in order to maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula and the rest of the region.
The Korean authorities believe that Russia as the legal successor of the Soviet Union can influence North Korea in the event of problems with its nuclear program.
South Korea is working jointly with Russia, the U.S., China and Japan to convince Pyongyang, which tested its nuclear weapons in October 2006, to terminate its nuclear programs. This dialogue has stalled because of the upcoming presidential elections in the U.S., and North Korea has reportedly resumed its nuclear programs.
Russia and South Korea have agreed to strengthen cooperation to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.
They have also agreed to consider civilian nuclear cooperation and upheld Russia’s initiative on setting up an international uranium enrichment center so as to prevent nuclear proliferation and ensure uninterrupted supplies of nuclear fuel to international players.
Strategic dialogue between Moscow and Seoul should strengthen mutual trust. Consultations will be held at the level of deputy foreign ministers, with First Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Denisov representing Russia and his colleague, Kwon Jong-nak, speaking on behalf of South Korea.
South Korea needs to promote relations with all of the above-mentioned four countries, but its relations with them differ in scale and intensity.
According to South Korea’s diplomatic vocabulary, it has “strategic allied relations” with the U.S., “mature allied relations” with Japan, and “allied relations of strategic cooperation” with Russia and China.
In other words, South Korea’s relations with Russia, although not as close as with the U.S., should help maintain the balance of regional forces and create a positive precedent of global importance. This can be interpreted as one more proof that unipolarity in international affairs is untenable and unviable.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.