Tuesday, February 12, 2013
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.comIndia on Tuesday officially protested against the third nuclear test by North Korea which it sees as evidence of a clandestine proliferation network from Pakistan. Indian sources stressed that if the test was found to have been conducted with enriched uranium, it would confirm Pakistani "proliferation linkages". Criticizing North Korea for violating international commitments, New Delhi asked Pyongyang "to refrain from such actions which adversely impact on peace and stability in the region". Sources said the test revealed significantly improved technical capabilities of the North Koreans, which in itself suggested heightened proliferation activities. "If the speculation is correct that the test was carried out through enriched uranium, it would demonstrate cascading and clandestine proliferation linkages,'' a source said. After the test on Tuesday, North Korea also announced that its nuclear capabilities had diversified, fuelling more speculation that enriched uranium was used for the test. KCNA, North Korea's official news agency, said, "It was confirmed that the nuclear test that was carried out at a high level in a safe and perfect manner using a miniaturized and lighter nuclear device with greater explosive force than previously did not pose any negative impact on the surrounding ecological environment." South Korea recorded seismic activity compatible with a six-seven kiloton explosion. If this is confirmed, North Korea, officials said, could be well on its way to building a functional nuclear warhead, though its delivery systems may take a while to develop. "When you talk about any nuclear test conducted by North Korea, the role of Pakistan can never be far behind,'' a source said. Pakistan on Tuesday yet again blocked moves to facilitate negotiations for a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) in the Conference on Disarmament. Official sources said both developments were inter-related. Pakistan had transferred the technology for enriching uranium to weapon grade in exchange for the knowhow for missile development from the Communist dictatorship as part of a deal negotiated by Benazir Bhutto and Kim Jong-il. Pakistan has prevented negotiations for FMCT citing asymmetry with India in its fissile material stockpile. In its nuclear tests of 2006 and 2009, North Korea used plutonium and it was only in 2010 that it was revealed that the country had a sophisticated uranium enrichment programme. The existence of North Korea's Yongbyon centrifuge plant used for enriching uranium became public in 2010, when Pyongyang allowed foreign experts to visit the facility. Separately, the Indian assessment of the nuclear test is that it's a failure of Chinese foreign policy. The Pyongyang account has been the responsibility of Beijing, but China has failed to restrain North Korea both from going steadily down the nuclear path or persuading it to come to the negotiating table at the six-party talks. The test puts Beijing in an unenviable position. It has already supported fresh sanctions by the UN Security Council, which has piled them on North Korea. Beijing could support further sanctions, or it could take unilateral action against Pyongyang. Both ways, it risks ruining ties with one of its closest allies. Beijing-Pyongyang ties have been strained of late, In fact, last week, the Chinese government used the Global Times to warn North Korea. In an editorial, it said, "If North Korea insists on a third nuclear test despite attempts to dissuade it, it must pay a heavy price. The assistance it will be able to receive from China should be reduced. The Chinese government should make this clear beforehand to shatter any illusions Pyongyang may have." The test prompted the UN Security Council to call for an emergency meeting later on Tuesday. It is also expected to figure in US President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.
http://www.cbsnews.comEager to end a war he didn't begin, President Obama announced in January plans to speed up the withdrawal of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. In Tuesday's State of the Union address, the president will announce a milestone in the timetable on that drawdown, a senior administration official said. "President Obama will announce that 34,000 U.S. troops will return home from Afghanistan by this time next year, decreasing by half the number of U.S. forces serving in Afghanistan," the official told CBS News. "Further reductions will continue through the end of 2014 as Afghans take full responsibility for their security." Many questions remain about the ability of Afghans to maintain their own security against repeated attacks from al Qaeda, as well as numerous insurgent groups in both their own country and from Pakistan. The White House insists, however, that their timetable will work. "Afghan forces continue to grow stronger, with 352,000 now in training or on duty," the administration official said. "Afghan forces are leading nearly 90 percent of operations across the country, and by this spring, they'll be assuming the lead across the entire country, with the United States and ISAF stepped back to a train, advise and assist role." There are an estimated 100,000 international troops still in Afghanistan, with 66,000 of those being Americans. The U.S. and its partners have said they expect all those troops to leave the country by the end of 2014. Leading the drawdown of international security forces is the recently promoted Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, who took command of the U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan on Sunday. The outgoing commander, Marine Gen. John Allen, said he told Dunford that the end won't be pretty, adding: "Our victory here will never be marked by a parade or a point in time on a calendar when victory is declared."
EDITORIAL : Daily Times The residents of Model Town, Lahore, are fuming. It appears the Punjab government, Model Town Society and City District Government Lahore have chalked out a plan to ‘commercialise’ Model Town by building theme parks, restaurants and shopping arcades in place of the lush green parks and green belts that Model Town is well known for. More than 1,000 residents of Model Town held a protest demonstration on Sunday from Central Park to Ferozepur Road, holding up placards under the banner of ‘Movement to Save Parks’. These residents are infuriated that their home, which is one of the few societies in Lahore to be blessed with green areas and recreational parks, is being despoiled in the name of progress. It is obvious that the Model Town Society has a huge part to play in this entire affair. There seem to be a few individuals in this society who have failed to follow procedural norms such as consulting Model Town’s residents, addressing their concerns, planning and strategising how to most effectively go about this sort of ‘development’. Such haste can only spell one conclusion: there seems to be plenty of money to be made when it comes to projects such as these and, for a few elements within Model Town Society, this seems to be the prime reason behind pushing forward with this venture instead of sitting down with the residents of Model Town and coming up with an agreed plan. Now the residents are angry. They feel cheated and deprived of the right to make informed decisions about where they live, which this is their right. They should be allowed to have a say in what happens to their neighbourhood/society. Lahore has already been a maze of dug up roads and inefficient alternative routes, and the citizens have been subjected to extreme inconvenience for the last one year due to the construction of the Metro Bus Service. Now Model Town is about to go the same way. The concerns of the residents of Model Town must be addressed and, if any objections arise, carefully looked into. If Model Town Society fails to reach a consensus with those who live there, it is advised that all plans for this commercialisation be dropped. There is a huge probability that if such ill-advised plans are allowed to go ahead, the residents could take their grievances to court and, if recent cases are anything to go by, the superior courts are inclined towards protecting the environment from dastardly plans to ruin it. There has to be some appropriate urban planning, with the citizens fully consulted and made to feel as though they matter. Model Town Society should remember this.