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US, Japan Boost BMD Cooperation

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Washington (UPI) Nov 20, 2006
The United States and Japan are going to accelerate their BMD cooperation, Japan's foreign minister said. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso told reporters in Hanoi Thursday that he and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had agreed to speed up the already close cooperation on ballistic missile defense between their two countries in order to boost regional security in Northeast Asia, the Kyodo news agency reported.

Aso and Rice met privately during the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in the Vietnamese capital, the report said.

Aso's statement confirms previous indications that, as previously predicted in UPI's BMD Focus column, new Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is determined to maintain and even expand the far-reaching agreements on BMD cooperation that his predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, made with the United States.

Abe's statement will be especially welcome news for Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and the other main U.S. defense contractors on BMD. With the opposition Democrats taking over control of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in the Nov. 7 U.S. midterm elections, the Bush administration is expected to face pressure to cut costs and tighten spending on BMD.

In this financial environment, the prospect of even larger orders from the Japanese government and expanded co-production and co-research deals with major Japanese corporations will be a reassuring prospect for the major U.S. BMD contractors.

-0- Strong missile force is Putin's top priority

Russia's president and defense minister confirmed Thursday their commitment to modernizing the Strategic Rocket Forces as their top military goal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told a meeting with top military officials, "Maintaining a strategic balance will mean that our strategic deterrent forces should be able to guarantee the neutralization of any potential aggressor, no matter what modern weapons systems he possesses," the RIA Novosti news agency reported Thursday.

Putin "called for the creation of cutting-edge strategic weapons, and emphasized the importance of quality," RIA Novosti said.

"We must meet schedules to create new strategic weapons to secure a balance of forces in the world. This means that we will not indulge in comparisons of quantitative data of our strategic nuclear deterrent forces as we did previously," the Russian president said.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov told the meeting that the SRF would purchase 17 intercontinental ballistic missiles in 2007, as well as four spacecraft and four carrier rockets, the report said.

RIA Novosti said Russia planned to complete the modernization of the naval component of its nuclear triad by 2016. The Russian navy would deploy "new Bulava ballistic missiles on Project 955 Borey-class nuclear-powered submarines and equipping land-based strategic missile units with silo-based and mobile Topol-M (SS-27) ballistic missiles," the report said.

The R-30 Bulava (SS-NX-30) ballistic missile can can carry up to 10 multiple, independently targeted re-entry vehicles,or MIRVs, with nuclear warheads and has a range of about 5,000 miles, the Russian news agency said.

"Bulava missiles, a sea-based version of the Topol-M, could be deployed on Borey-class nuclear submarines as early as in 2008, according to missile designers," RIA Novosti said.

Last year, Russia carried out two successful test launches of the Bulava ICBM from its Typhoon-class ballistic missile submarine. However, this year two Bulava test launches failed, the report said.

-0- Pakistan test fires Ghauri IRBM

Pakistan Thursday successfully test fired its intermediate-range ballistic missile Hatf 5, or Ghauri, the Pakistan Tribune newspaper reported.

The missile was fired by Pakistan's Army Strategic Forces Command, the newspaper said. It said the operation was "the culmination phase of a training exercise held to test the operational readiness of a Strategic Missile Group (SMG) equipped with Ghauri Missiles."

The Pakistan Tribune described the Ghauri as "highly accurate" and having a range of 780 miles. That assessment of the Ghauri's accuracy is shared by U.S. intelligence analysts.

The Pakistani government gave great importance to the Ghauri test. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Vice Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Ahsan Saleem Hyat both attended the missile launch along with what the paper described as "a large number of senior military officers and scientists and engineers of the strategic organizations."

Prime Minister Aziz said could be proud of its defence capability and the reliability of its nuclear deterrence. He said Pakistan believed peace depended upon strength and operational readiness.

Hopes for a reduction of tensions between India and Pakistan have grown in recent years. However, Aziz cautioned that the defence of the country was non negotiable," the Pakistan Tribune said.

"The prime minister made it clear that Pakistan's nuclear capability had matured and was consolidated as a fully operationalized capability in the last seven years," the newspaper said. "The three services had raised effective Strategic Forces to handle the nation's nuclear capability in all dimensions, and were equipped to handle the strategic assets in the field."

The paper said that Pakistan's nuclear and missile, or strategic programs, were directed by the government's National Command Authority and the Strategic Plans Division. The paper quoted Aziz as saying Pakistani policymakers were "fully alive to the regional security situation and had developed adequate response options to meet any contingency."

The successful Ghauri test, and Prime Minister Aziz's comments after it, serve notice that the South Asian nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan remains very much alive.

Source: United Press International

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