cue the lightning bolts

the only question that matters: is it true?

Iran has signed the NPT. As a signatory to the NPT, Iran may rightfully, legally, use nuclear technology for peaceful energy purposes. Iran has submitted to and passed repeated IAEA inspections. The US intelligence community (NIE) does not consider Iran a nuclear threat. Israel refuses to sign the NPT. Israel has an estimated several hundred undeclared nuclear weapons. Russia and China have warned that an attack on Iran will have global consequences. That's the situation in a nutshell. Where to next, people? Where to?

Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? - Galatians 4:16


US & Japan not sharing military toys like they used to

Gates gets grumpy in Tokyo

By Peter J Brown

United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has to be more mindful of his body language. It says a lot about his state of mind. This is something that can be developed by playing poker, among other things, and given the very high stakes game that is unfolding in Asia, perhaps a round of cards might be just what Gates needs.

[blah blah blah....scroll scroll scroll...oh ha look here military technology discussion! - ed.]

Much to the extreme disappointment of many Japanese military officials and defense planners, what is dead is any hope that the US will export the F-22 to Japan. This stealthy and sophisticated fighter jet has been high on Japan's list for months, even while F-22 weather-related problems, and those related to heavy rain in particular, made this aircraft seem not as invincible as it appeared.

In turn, Gates got not so good news when it came to Japanese exports. Perhaps this was another reason for that unhappy look on his face. After all, besides the base controversy, Gates was in Tokyo to win Japanese approval for SM-3 Block 2A missile exports.

SM-3 Block 2A missiles are state-of-the-art anti-missile weapons that can be deployed on ships. The US and Japan have been working together on this system as well as other high-tech anti-submarine and other cutting-edge defense hardware and software.

Gates, however, is once again confronting anti-US sentiment in the ruling coalition with the Social Democratic Party clearly in the driver's seat on this one. And any deal that would overturn the long-established Japanese ban on weapons exports to nations - other than joint US-Japanese anti-missile systems and components exported to the US - let alone any US-driven deal to this effect, faces stiff resistance.

In other words, when Gates brought this issue up during his meeting with Kitazawa, the Japanese defense minister showed that body language is something he does know well, and he succeeded in not rolling his eyes as he politely informed Gates that the request would be given due consideration.

Because all the indicators point to a done deal down the road, Kitazawa was just being diplomatic, and perhaps pragmatic, just days before the latest round of elections in Japan - two by-elections were held last weekend.

Some in the US who have watched the debate over the viability of Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI) technology might find this to be a curious offshore twist to the story of this missile defense program. In other words, whereas at one point KEI was close to termination as a program in the US, it seems as if it was alive and well - and well-funded - far away on the other side of the Pacific.

Japan's contribution in this instance involved the integrity of infrared ray sensors, while the US was responsible for the KEI projectile, which is designed to intentionally collide at very high speed with an incoming enemy ballistic missile.

One export item that remained under the radar screen last week was Mitsubishi Electric Corp's Proximity Link System (PLS), which will be used to guide US-based Orbital Science's future Cygnus resupply mission spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS)
during nine upcoming resupply missions for the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), starting in 2011.

Just days before Gates arrived in Japan, Mitsubishi Electric announced the $66 million PLS deal, which involved technology originally developed for use on the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV).

As unmanned PLS-equipped spacecraft approach the ISS, the PLS serves as an automated guidance, rendezvous and docking mechanism. It establishes a link to the Proximity Communication System, which was installed in the ISS with the Japanese Kibo Experimental Module.

The successful operation and reliability of the PLS has no doubt caught the attention of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and specifically the DARPA team working on the "Future, Fast, Flexible, Fractionated, Free-Flying spacecraft" project known simply as F6.

F6 involves replacing today's large monolithic spacecraft with clusters or groups of wirelessly linked elements, or nodes, which execute or replicate a specific spacecraft function. You simply unite these nodes together in space, and presto, you have a satellite.

PLS would greatly enhance recoupling to the extent that pairs of F6 nodes would engage in refueling or other mated operations in space. However, because under the existing Japanese export rules, a PLS system could not be exported to the US for use by DARPA - again the "D" stands for "Defense" - DARPA will have to look elsewhere or Japan will have to further revise and amend its export regulations.

So, whereas SM-3 Block 2A missiles can be exported to the US under exemption approved in 2004, perhaps PLS systems can only be exported the US on a limited basis, and only to non-defense US customers at this time absent further revisions or amendments.

read the front end @ asia times

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