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July 5, 2012

News Briefs – July 5, 2012

Iran says launches long-range missiles in exercise

Iran’s official news agency official IRNA reports that the country’s powerful Revolutionary Guards unit has launched several missiles in a military exercise.

The July 3 report says the missiles, including long-range ones capable of hitting U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf, successfully hit their targets.

Iran holds several military maneuvers per year and the current one coincides with the beginning of a European Union oil embargo meant to pressure the country over its nuclear program.

The West suspects Iran wants to build nuclear weapons, a charge the Islamic Republic denies. AP

 

Iran threatens swift retaliation on U.S. bases

Iran’s semi-official news agency Fars is reporting the country can destroy nearby U.S. military bases and strike Israel within minutes of an attack on the Islamic Republic.

The July 4 report quotes Gen. Ami Ali Hajizadeh of the powerful Revolutionary Guards as saying U.S. bases, and Israel – which he referred to as “occupied territories” -are in range of Iran’s missiles and could be struck as a retaliatory measure.

“Measures have been taken so that we could destroy all these bases in the early minutes of an attack,” said Hajizadeh, chief of the Guards’ airspace division.

Iran and the West are at odds over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and neither Israel nor the U.S. have ruled out a military strike on the country if diplomacy fails to stop its nuclear program. AP

 

Venezuela to buy tanks from China

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says his government will buy amphibious tanks from China for its military.

Chavez isn’t saying how many of the armored vehicles Venezuela intends to buy, but says the deal signed July 3 calls for a Chinese company to begin delivering the tanks next year.

He announced the deal in a speech to troops, saying the $500 million cost will be financed through loans that China has offered Venezuela in exchange for oil shipments.

In recent years Chavez has also agreed to billions of dollars in arms deals with Russia, buying fighter jets, helicopters, assault rifles and surface-to-air missiles.

The Venezuelan leader is seeking re-election in an October vote. AP

 

Argentina signs deals with China’s military

Argentina’s defense minister is visiting China, signing military agreements and praising the weapons on display during a six-day tour.

Defense minister Arturo Puricelli says cooperation agreements that he signed with Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie will strengthen ties between the Asian giant and Argentina.

He calls China an economic, political and military partner and says the two countries’ strategic positions in terms of international security are almost entirely consistent.

Argentina’s defense ministry says in a July 4 statement that Puricelli also has visited Chinese defense contractors, viewing helicopters at one and guided weapon systems and anti-aircraft artillery at another.

Chinese state-run media in Beijing have reported on the visit and say China wants to expand military cooperation with Argentina. AP

 

Hawaii fines Navy $80,000 for hazardous waste

Hawaii’s health department has cited the U.S. Navy for hazardous waste and used oil violations.

The state Department of Health said July 3 it issued a violation notice with an $80,000 fine against the U.S. Navy Public Works Center Makalapa Compound in Pearl Harbor.

Health officials say the base yard compound violated the state’s hazardous waste and used oil rules by disposing of corrosive waste and solvents in the trash instead of handling them as hazardous waste. Another violation involves storing hazardous waste paints and fuels in open containers.

The violations were discovered during a route inspection in August 2011.

Navy Region Hawaii spokeswoman Agnes Tauyan says the Navy has taken corrective action, provided refresher training, and increased internal reviews to ensure compliance.

The Navy has formally requested a hearing to contest the violation notice. AP

 

Turkey says bodies of two Turkish pilots found

Turkey’s military says bodies of two pilots whose jet was shot down by Syria have been found in the sea bed.

State-run TRT television says a U.S. deep-sea exploration vessel, E/V Nautilus, found the bodies in eastern Mediterranean July 4.

Syrian forces shot down the RF-4 plane on June 22. Turkey says it was hit in international airspace while Syria insists it was flying inside Syrian airspace.

The downing of the plane has worsened already tense Turkish-Syrian relations. AP

 

F-35 noise greater at Arizona base but affect fewer

Noise from the F-35s jets proposed to come to Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Ariz., would impact fewer residents than current F-16 operations.

That’s under the recommended scenario which would bring 72 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to the base.

Luke officials tell The Arizona Republic that mitigation efforts from the base beyond what’s already in place are not feasible, although the U.S. Air Force indicates some steps could be considered once a decision on location is made.

The conclusions were part of a final environmental-impact report released last month by the Air Force, which also included the agency’s responses to comments submitted by the public this spring.

Luke is in contention with three other bases to be a pilot training base for F-35s. A decision is expected mid-July. AP

 

New Zealand media, pols upset over ship snub

The Royal New Zealand Navy’s exclusion from docking at Pearl Harbor during this month’s Rim of the Pacific international naval exercises has created a kerfuffle among political commentators in that country.

Two New Zealand warships, the frigate Te Kaha and tanker Endeavor, were not allowed to berth in Pearl Harbor with the rest of the international fleet from 22 countries, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. The ships were instead docked at Aloha Tower.

“What other conclusion is it possible to draw from the absurd, vindictive and ultimately short-sighted refusal by the United States to allow two New Zealand naval vessels to berth at the Pearl Harbor military base?” the New Zealand Herald’s top political commentator wrote.

The port ban stretches back 30 years, when New Zealand’s anti-nuclear policy prohibited nuclear-powered-or-armed warships from visiting the country. That policy essentially excluded all U.S. Navy vessels, because the U.S. neither confirms nor denies if ships have nuclear weapons.

In response, the U.S. banned visits to its military ports by New Zealand ships.

New Zealand Defense Minister Jonathan Coleman told the media that he did not know about the docking issue until he read a newspaper report, while Prime Minister John Key said he knew ahead of time.

Although the ship-porting ban remained in effect, military relations between the two countries have improved since 2003, when New Zealand sent troops to Afghanistan. Yet some noted the relations seem to have chilled with the apparent snub.

Television New Zealand ONE News noted that Japan was welcomed to RIMPAC even though it bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, but that New Zealand had been “relegated to a tourist marina.” AP

 

Vets seek repair of abandoned Philippine cemetery

American war veterans in the Philippines are urging the U.S. Congress to pass a bill that would require Washington to repair and maintain a cemetery north of Manila where the graves of thousands of American servicemen and dependents have been covered in ash since a gigantic 1991 volcanic eruption.

The head of an American veterans’ group, Retired Army 1st Sgt. John Gilbert, said July 4 that the neglect of Clark Veterans Cemetery north of Manila is a disgrace to the memory of more than 8,000 U.S. servicemen and their dependents who are buried there.

The cemetery has been covered in ash and weeds since the eruption of Mount Pinatubo forced the U.S. Air Force to abandon Clark Air Force Base. U.S. veterans have struggled to maintain the cemetery through donations. AP




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