NATO warns Russia not to interfere in Georgia

NATO warned Russia Wednesday to stop undermining Georgia’s territorial integrity, after Moscow announced it would send more peacekeepers to two rebel Georgian regions.

Russia’s move, to counter what it said was the massing of Georgian troops near Abkhazia and South Ossetia, raised concern in the United States while the European Union has said that any military build-up would not be wise.

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Mofaz: Iran could go nuclear in a year

Iran has taken command of its nuclear technology and could have an atomic bomb in a year, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz was quoted as saying Wednesday, citing Israeli intelligence.

According to Channel 10, Mofaz made the comments during talks with US officials in Washington where he leading an Israeli delegation holding meetings within the framework of the Israel-US Strategic Dialogue.

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Tests identify Russia’s crown prince, sister

DNA tests carried out by a U.S. laboratory prove that bone fragments exhumed last year belong to two children of Czar Nicholas II, putting to rest questions about what happened to Russia’s last royal family, a regional governor said today.

Bone fragments dug up near the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg are indeed those of Crown Prince Alexei and his sister, Maria, whose remains had been missing since the family was murdered in 1918 as Russia descended into civil war, said Eduard Rossel, governor of the Sverdlovsk region.

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Russia and Georgia rattle sabres

GEORGIA and Russia agree upon one thing: the situation in the breakaway province of Abkhazia is bad and getting worse. Georgia, an ex-Soviet republic with close links to America, says that Russia is illegally putting more troops in the region. Last week it produced video footage of what looks like a Russian warplane shooting down an unmanned Georgian surveillance drone. Russia retorts that its troops are deployed legally as peacekeepers. And the Kremlin says that it is the Georgian authorities who have been acting provocatively, by increasing their military presence in the Kodori Gorge, a small bit of Abkhazia still controlled by the central government in Tbilisi.

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US Air Force planned nuclear strike on China over Taiwan: report

The United States Air Force had considered a plan to drop nuclear bombs on China during a confrontation over Taiwan in 1958 but it was overruled, declassified documents showed Wednesday.

When he learned about it, President Dwight Eisenhower instead required the Air Force to initially use conventional bombs against Chinese forces if the crisis escalated, according to previously secret US Air Force history.

The president’s instructions seemingly astounded the Air Force top brass but the author of one of the studies released said US policymakers recognized that atomic strikes had “inherent disadvantages” because of the fall-out danger in the region as well as the risk of nuclear escalation.

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CIA chief says China’s rapid military buildup troubling

CIA chief Michael Hayden charged Wednesday that China was beefing up its military with “remarkable speed and scope,” calling the buildup “troubling.”

The Chinese, he said, had fully absorbed the lessons of both Gulf wars, developing and integrating advanced weaponry into a modern military force.

Hayden said while Beijing’s new capabilities could pose a risk to US forces and interests in the region, the military modernization was as much about projecting strength as anything else.

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Defusing Germany’s Demographic Timebomb

Germany’s population is shrinking, with serious consequences for the country’s economy and pension system. Can Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen persuade Germans to breed? By David Gordon Smith in Berlin more…


Lots of talk about North Korea, but action plan from Israel

The ferocity with which Israel responded to the threat posed by a nuclear weapons program in the hands of one of its worst enemies contrasts with the reluctance of the U.S. to attack North Korea’s nuclear facilities over years of off-again, on-again efforts to get the North to abandon the program.

Although the U.S. has repeatedly assured North Korea it has no intention of staging a “preemptive strike”, as often alleged in statements from Pyongyang, Israel has set a precedent that hawkish U.S. strategists may not want to overlook.

In fact, the timing of the U.S. announcement suggests a move by administration hawks, led by President George W Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney, to hold North Korea to account after the State Department appeared inclined to let the North off with a face-saving memorandum that simply acknowledged “understanding” of US concerns.

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If peak oil scares you, what about peak water?

That the news is familiar makes it no less alarming: 1.1 billion people, about one-sixth of the world’s population, lack access to safe drinking water. Aquifers under Beijing, Delhi, Bangkok, and dozens of other rapidly growing urban areas are drying up. The rivers Ganges, Jordan, Nile, and Yangtze — all dwindle to a trickle for much of the year. In the former Soviet Union, the Aral Sea has shrunk to a quarter of its former size, leaving behind a salt-crusted waste.

Water has been a serious issue in the developing world for so long that dire reports of shortages in Cairo or Karachi barely register. But the scarcity of freshwater is no longer a problem restricted to poor countries. Shortages are reaching crisis proportions in even the most highly developed regions, and they’re quickly becoming commonplace in our own backyard, from the bleached-white bathtub ring around the Southwest’s half-empty Lake Mead to the parched state of Georgia, where the governor prays for rain. Crops are collapsing, groundwater is disappearing, rivers are failing to reach the sea. Call it peak water, the point at which the renewable supply is forever outstripped by unquenchable demand.

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A Tantalizing Look at Iran’s Nuclear Program

The sprawling site, known as Natanz, made headlines recently because Iran is testing a new generation of centrifuges there that spin faster and, in theory, can more rapidly turn natural uranium into fuel for reactors or nuclear arms. The new machines are also meant to be more reliable than their forerunners, which often failed catastrophically.

On April 8, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited the desert site, and Iran released 48 photographs of the tour, providing the first significant look inside the atomic riddle.

“They’re remarkable,” Jeffrey G. Lewis, an arms control specialist at the New America Foundation, a nonprofit research group in Washington, said of the photographs. “We’re learning things.”

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Interactive: Parts for a New Centrifuge

Speeding Up Enrichment

Slide Show: A Public Tour of a Secret Iranian Nuclear Site

Iran Is Reported to Test New Centrifuges to Make Atomic Fuel (February 8, 2008)

Iran Admits That It Has Plans for a Newer Centrifuge (February 13, 2004)