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April 7, 2014

News Briefs April 7, 2014

U.S. strongly committed to protecting Japan

Against the backdrop of Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimean region, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says a key message he will deliver to leaders in Tokyo this weekend is that the U.S. is strongly committed to protecting Japan’s security.

Hagel says it’s understandable for nations to be concerned as they watch the events unfold in Ukraine, where Russian troops are still massed along the border. The issue reverberates in Asia where China, Japan and other nations are locked in bitter territorial disputes, including over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Speaking with reporters traveling with him to Tokyo, Hagel said such a reaction by nations in the region is, quote, ìpretty predictable.

Hagel plans to meet with a number of top leaders in Japan, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. AP

SpaceX reschedules space station resupply launch

A delayed supply run to the International Space Station is now set to launch April 14.

The private company SpaceX will be making its fourth trip to the space station from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The launch was postponed twice last month, the last time because of an electrical short on Air Force ground equipment.

NASA announced the new launch date April 4.

The unmanned capsule, called Dragon, will bring up legs for the station’s humanoid robot, a grow lamp for vegetables in orbit and 5,000 pounds of supplies and experiments.

The California-based company will also test landing legs for the return of the first stage of the Falcon 9. AP

Boeing says U.S. OK’s sale of plane parts to Iran

Boeing said April 4 that it received U.S. government approval to export certain spare parts for commercial airplanes to Iran.
A Boeing spokesman said that the parts were needed to ensure safe flight, but he declined to describe them further or put a dollar amount on them.

The spokesman, Marc Birtel, said Boeing’s last delivery to Iran was a 747-100 jumbo jet in August 1979 – three months before American hostages were seized at the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

Birtel said Boeing got a license from the U.S. Treasury Department to export the spare parts under a temporary agreement that Secretary of State John Kerry reached with the Iranians late last year.

Officials at the Treasury Department, which oversees sanctions against Iran, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The U.S. and other countries reached an interim agreement in which Iran agreed to halt progress on its nuclear program in exchange for an easing of international sanctions that have squeezed its economy. Iran got access to parts for civilian aircraft and cars, medical supplies and other goods, senior U.S. officials said in January. The deal would run six months while both sides negotiate a permanent agreement.

President Barack Obama has warned that if companies try to do business with Iran in violation of sanctions, the U.S. would come down on them ìlike a ton of bricks.î AP




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Lockheed Martin photograph

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