Israel's Arrow Weapon System destroyed an incoming target on September 14, its seventh successful test in eight attempts, and its third of three using a fully integrated system. The target missile, launched from an F-15 fighter aircraft, was shot towards the Arrow system and programmed to behave like an incoming Scud. Previous intercepts have been of targets launched from the ground. The United States, which participates only in the development of the missile, has paid about 65% of the program's $1.1 billion cost. Total cost to develop it is estimated at $2 billion.
Center for Defense Information
France has become the first Western power to initiate government talks with Afghanistan's ruling Taliban Islamic militia. Taliban Deputy Foreign Minister Maulvi Abdul Rehman Zahid met in Paris with several senior officials from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is a signal that Paris may open diplomatic relations with the Taliban, though other Western countries have declined to recognize the militia government.
The Taliban rule more than 90 percent of the country under a strict version of Islamic law. The opposition is made up of ethnic and religious minorities.
Afghanistan's central location makes it an important transit state for gas exports from Central Asia. But the country's four-year civil war has prevented the construction of pipelines. French oil companies are major investors in South Central Asian oil and gas projects. In addition to abundant gas supplies, the region boasts a booming energy market.
The French shift advances the Taliban's claims as the legitimate government. Other countries with a stake in South Central Asia's energy sectors, notably Russia, may soon follow suit.
British Columbia's new Royal Roads University is planning to launch a two-year Master's of Arts degree program in peacebuilding and human security. There will probably be two residential periods, each of three-weeks, interspersed by web-base distance education modules. Dr. James Bayer, Dean of the Peace and Conflict Studies Division, has been pollingpeace educators in Canada to determine the amount of interest and potential support for the program. Those interested can contact him or his associate Sandra Lewis at 250/391-2654.
Radioactive uranium can now be purchased with a click of a computer mouse on the internet. The New York Nuclear Corporation owns and operates a website which sells uranium fuel to nuclear power plants by an internet auction process: <www.UraniumOnLine. com>.
Salespersons for the corporation argue that it is nearly impossible for terrorists to acquire the material online, since physical movement of uranium must be from a licensed producer to a licensed trador or buyer. There are relatively few traders, and any new bidders would be recognized. Uranium supplies nuclear fuel in about 430 power plants worldwide and generate s about 20 percent of the planet's electricity needs. Online auctioning will create a more open-market.
Reuters, 21 August.
The National Academy of Sciences released a report commissioned by the Department of Energy stating that most of the sites where the U.S. federal government built nuclear bombs will never be cleaned up enough to allow public access to the land. The report also noted that the plan for guarding sites that are permanently contaminated is inadequate.
That report, entitled "Long-Term Institutional Management of U.S. Department of Energy Legacy Waste Sites," stated that the government can try to declare certain areas permanently off-limits, but it does not have the technology, money, and management techniques to prevent contamination from spreading. See it: <http://books.nap.edu/catalog/9949.html>.
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is reportedly suffering from lymphatic cancer. His son Qusai is heading a family committee that would run the country if his father is unable. The state of Hussein's health is difficult to verify but others consider him weak. He gave only a short speech on the July 17 anniversary of the Ba'ath party revolution, not his usual long oration. Based on past experiences when rumors emerged about his health, one can expect to see a bout of political unrest, either from within Hussein's inner circle or from the opposition within Iraq. This probably will be suppressed, and Qusai will become the next leader of Iraq.