News Briefs – November 28, 2016


Denmark urged to clean up U,S, military waste in Greenland

Greenland is calling on Denmark to clean up an abandoned under-ice missile project and other U.S. military installations left to rust in the pristine landscape after the Cold War.
The 1951 deal under which NATO member Denmark allowed the U.S. to build 33 bases and radar stations in the former Danish province doesn’t specify who’s responsible for any cleanup.
Tired of waiting, Greenland’s local leaders are now urging Denmark to remove the junk that the Americans left behind, including Camp Century, a never-completed launch site for nuclear missiles under the surface of the massive ice cap.
“Unless Denmark has entered other agreements with the United States about Camp Century, the responsibility for investigation and cleanup lies with Denmark alone,”’ said Vittus Qujaukitsoq, Greenland’s minister in charge of foreign affairs.
Camp Century was built in 1959-60 in northwestern Greenland, officially to test sub-ice construction techniques. The real plan was top secret: creating a hidden launch site for ballistic missiles that could reach the Soviet Union.
The project was abandoned in 1966 because the ice cap began to crush the camp. The U.S. removed a portable nuclear reactor that had supplied heat and electricity, but left an estimated 200,000 liters of diesel oil and sewage, according to an international study published in August.
Scientists are warning that as global warming melts the ice cap, the waste could surface and pollute the environment.

Russia protests planned Ukraine missile training over Crimea

Russia’s defense ministry on Nov. 25 presented the Ukrainian military attaché with a note of protest in reaction to Ukraine’s plans to conduct training launches of missiles over Crimea next week.
Russian aviation officials said earlier Nov. 25 that Ukraine had informed them of the upcoming launches over Crimea. Russia has been in control of the Ukrainian peninsula since it annexed it in March 2014 after a hastily called referendum.
The Russian defense ministry said in a statement that the note handed to the Ukrainian attaché says that Russia protests the missile exercises scheduled for Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 because the airspace of the planned launches, over Crimea’s west coast, “violates territorial seas of the Russian Federation.”
In Kiev, Oleksandr Turchynov, chairman of the Ukrainian Security and Defense Council, said that Ukraine is not planning to conduct the training launches over the Kerch Strait, which separates Russia and Crimea.
But Turchynov added that Ukraine is free to conduct military maneuvers anywhere in its airspace, including Crimea.

German air force scouting alternatives to Turkey base

Amid frosty relations with Ankara, Germany is considering moving military planes involved in the international mission against the Islamic State group from Turkey to Jordan, Kuwait or Cyprus.
The Defense Ministry says it’s scouting alternative locations to the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey at the request of Parliament.
German lawmakers have repeatedly been prevented from visiting the base after passing a resolution that labeled killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a century ago as genocide.
German daily Bild, which first reported the move Nov. 25, says military officials plan to travel to Amman on Nov. 26.
Bild reports that moving Germany’s Tornado reconnaissance jets and a refueling plane from the Turkey base would take several weeks.
The German air force planes aren’t currently flying combat missions.

Canada looks to buy 18 Super Hornet jets on interim basis

Canada’s defense minister said recently the country will enter into discussions with the United States and Boeing to buy 18 Super Hornet jet fighters on an interim basis and will hold an open competition to buy more planes over the next five years.
Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said they need an interim fleet to replace Canada’s aging fleet of CF-18s.
Sajjan said Canada remains part of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. The government previously said it would honor its campaign pledge not to buy the next generation F-35 fighter from Lockheed Martin’s troubled program. Canada had previously talked about buying 65 jets from the program, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he wants a cheaper option.
The F-35 is the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program, aiming to replace a wide range of existing aircraft for the U.S. and several partner countries.
Judy Foote, Canada’s Minister of Public Services and Procurement, said they have a sense of what the cost will be for the 18 Super Hornets, but won’t know for sure until negotiations. Foote said the duration of the open competition for the remaining planes will take five years.
The government said the interim addition of 18 Super Hornets is needed to meet its NATO and North American defense obligations. The current fleet of planes is 77, down from 138.
“We have a capability gap,” Sajjan said.
Australia bought 24 Super Hornet fighters to replace antiquated F-111 jets until newer F-35s were ready.
Denmark recently announced it would buy 27 F-35 jets, which are equipped with radar-evading technology. If approved by the Parliament, Denmark would be become the 11th NATO country to buy the jet.
The United States plans to spend close to $400 billion to buy nearly 2,500 F-35s for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. AP

U.S. OKs Airbus sale of over 100 planes to Iran

The Obama administration has green-lighted the sale of more than 100 Airbus planes to Iran, officials said Tuesday. It is the latest U.S. license for commercial activity with the Islamic republic following last year’s nuclear deal.
Airbus in September received a license to sell 17 planes to Tehran. Two U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter said the European manufacturer got permission Nov. 21 to export 106 more. The officials weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.
Airbus needs Treasury Department approval because at least 10 percent of the plane’s components are American-made. Hoping to replace its aging fleet of 1970s U.S. aircraft, Iran has agreed to purchase tens of billions of dollars’ worth of planes from Airbus and its American competitor, Boeing.
But both deals rest on precarious ground. President-elect Donald Trump has threatened to re-negotiate President Barack Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement, the seven-nation deal that imposed strict limits on Iran’s nuclear activity in exchange for the end of wide-ranging oil, trade and financial sanctions.
And last week, the Republican-led House moved decisively to bar the sale of commercial aircraft to Iran. The bill must now clear the Senate, where the measure will likely face stiff opposition from Democrats. Obama would veto the bill if it reaches his desk, according to the White House, but Trump could view things differently once he is inaugurated on Jan. 20. AP