Tuesday, November 16, 2004


The largest military installation on the globe is now open to tourists
Facility 825 GTS
The largest military installation on the globe is now open to tourists who like to walk on the wild side

Our correspondent has visited the site of what used to be the largest military facility on earth – an underground complex for servicing Soviet submarines hidden in Balaklava, a sea port in South Crimea.
The ancient town of Balaklava turned into one of the most restricted and mystic locations of the U.S.S.R due to that highly classified facility.

Going deeper underground
The underground complex for servicing submarines was referred to as "Facility 825 GTS" in the Soviet-era documents. Josef Stalin reportedly ordered the construction of a national antinuclear defense facility of the first grade after he had been deeply impressed by the range of devastation inflicted by American A-bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. He believed the facility was a must for protecting the Soviet subs in case the nuclear hell broke loose and a guarantee for delivering a retaliation nuclear strike.
The construction kicked off four years following the death of Stalin. It was completed in 1961.

The town of Balaklava features a uniquely located harbor that is long and deep.
One side of the harbor is lined by the picturesque ruins of Cembalo, a medieval Genoa fortress while the other one is topped by Mount Tauros, the name stands for "empty" in Turk. It's the mountain that hosted an entire underground facility inside. The concrete walls covering the premises hollowed out in the rock were 56 meters thick.

The facility was made to withstand the effect of a direct nuclear strike measuring up to 100 kilotons. The thick doors were to seal off the area in case of a nuclear threat thus enabling some 3,000 strong personnel to survive and operate for 3 years. The facility was equipped with machines providing an independent air supply, a number of powerful diesel power generators, and fuel and water pipelines. It also had an underground Railroad track to service the needs of transportation, not to mention perfectly equipped command posts, bakeries, storage areas for lube and fuel, a hospital and living quarters, mess halls, galleys, bathrooms and shower rooms, even the recreation rooms for the personnel. All the above made it totally independent from the ground defense network.
The Facility 825 GTS was a combined water canal in terms of military engineering. It had a dry dock, repair workshops, warehouses for storing torpedoes and other weapons. There were two exit ways on either side of the mountain. There was an entrance way to the gallery from the harbor. The entrance way could be blocked by a inflatable boat lock as required. The other boat lock was mounted on the northern side of the mountain to seal the seaward gates. The both orifices in the rock were skillfully covered with camouflaged and nets.

I must reveal a few figures at this point just to make you realize how cyclopean the facility was. The total length of an underground tunnel was half a kilometer while a utility gallery housing main workshops ran for 300 meters. The flashlights we used for lighting our steps around the facility weren't strong enough for us to estimate the length of the canal stated by our tour guide – 360 meters. But we were really impressed by the size of a concrete arch measuring 12 m wide by 18 m high. None of the tourists of our group dared approach the edge of the canal after being told that its depth was at least 7 meters.

Small wonder the underground galleries could easily accommodate 7 submarines of basic Soviet designs or up to 14 subs of different classes if need be. The estimated period of a complete overhaul of a submarine is said to have planned for 3 weeks maximum. The repair programs are said to have been conducted always on time during those 30 years of operations of the underground facility.

Weary subs
Today's tourists are unable to witness the wonders produced by the Soviet navy installation hidden underground . Its glory belongs to the past.

The unique facility was vandalized in broad daylight during the division of the Black Sea Fleet. In 1991, submarines were removed from the installation, its unique equipment was dismantled and moved away, traces of secret technologies were destroyed. The rest of the equipment, namely pipework, cables, tanks, and all the metal objects including stairways and handrails were brutally ripped off and stolen. Who was behind those hideous acts of vandalism is still unknown.

Tourists today can only shine their flashlights over the concrete moldy walls with some twisted iron parts sticking out. A few instructions on handling the torpedoes are still around but the paint on them almost peeled off. There's also a railroad track with a trolley for carrying weapons in sight. And the hermetically sealed doors are also rusting in peace. No thieves will ever be able to take them away. The canal disappearing in the dark holds still waters that look dead like in a river of oblivion. The facility of gigantic proportions that took a great deal of time, effort, and money to build in the past, these days it looks like a huge shabby relic of the Soviet military power. The picture strikes everyone that steps inside.

"I still remember the times when we were afraid of the Soviet Union.
Now I'm sure that we did it with reason," said John Hinkley from Connecticut, on emerging from the gallery. I met the American while touring the facility. It's just amazing to find out that scores of tourists from Poland, Canada, U.S.A., Israel, Holland, France, Germany have already went down for a little bit of a nerve-racking experience even though a permanent ticket office is yet to be set up and guided tours became available not a long time ago.

If you want to learn more about the underground navy facility, you can ask around the local fishermen. All of them claim to have worked there. They just love telling you tall stories spiced with most incredible details, the ones that are normally left unsaid by the tour guides.

For example, the locals say that in days of old the sea approaches to the Balaklava facility were protected by specially trained dolphins and members of the navy special forces akin to the U.S. Navy Seals.
The repair workers were escorted around the premises by armed seamen at all times while at work. Submarines entered and exited the harbor at nighttime only, so the electricity in the town of Balaklava was regularly shut off in those hours of harbor maneuvering. Rumor has it that a dry dock was swarming with live fish once the water was discharged after putting a sub put into place. The workers reportedly used some ingenious methods for smoking the fish to keep it from wasting away. As a result, a trail of zesty smoke was coming from the mountain as a sure sign of yet another weary sub coming under repairs for all the spies to see despite a cloak of secrecy hanging above the place.

Monument or museum or amusement park
It's still unclear what this place is going to look like some day in the future. Is it going to be a museum? A monument to the Soviet military valor? A symbol to pacifism? According to a concept plan by the Central museum of Ukrainian armed forces, a museum will be filled with expositions covering several subjects, such as the history of the town itself, the Crimean War, the role of Sevastopol in the Great Patriotic War and the history of the Ukrainian navy. A number of dummy subs will be put afloat on the empty canal for effect.

Total area of the underground installation beneath Sevastopol is said to be 350 thousand square meters. A special commission formed by the city officials conducted search operations from 1984 to 1987 in order to recover information on every underground facility of the city. The commission took stock of more than 600 facilities located underground: command posts, communications centers, onshore artillery positions, storage rooms for torpedoes, missiles, bombs, powder- magazines, storage areas for military equipment and victuals, shelters for personnel and local population.
We won't exaggerate much by saying that Soviet-era holiday-makers enjoying the Crimean sunshine and the sea were actually sleeping on a volcano.
Write: by Valentina Gatash. November 2004

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Russia to Arm New Iraq
Iraq’s army will be equipped with soviet-era made weapons, as agreed upon a meeting between Russia’s Genshtab Chief, Gen.Yuri Baluev, and NATO Chief-in-Staff, Gen. James Johnes.
Write: by LuisB. November 2004

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Nigeria stores up future trouble
Nigeria's government has lost the latest battle in its war against the unions. The government has bowed to pressure and moderated its planned petrol price rises. But economists say the government is storing up trouble for itself in the future.

Motorbikes on street in Lagos
The cost of transport is highly contentious
There are two things guaranteed to anger the average Nigerian: Firstly, the fact that their oil-rich country relies on fuel imports and secondly, the price of petrol.
Nigeria exports about 2.5 million barrels of crude oil a day, but is then forced to buy back petrol, diesel and other refined fuels from non-oil producing countries, such as Spain, at a far higher price.

Foreign investors
Nigeria's government has reaped an estimated $280bn from oil in the past 30 years but has failed to invest enough money in its own oil industry to ensure efficient refineries and a proper supply network to distribute the fuel to service stations.

In light of the fuel reduction we decided to suspend the strike John Odah of the Nigeria Labour Congress

Why Nigerian unions called off the strike
The restoration of Nigeria's decrepit refineries - owned by Nigeria's state-owned oil company - has been a priority for a succession of ministers.
But chronic mismanagement, years of corruption and a string of political appointees has left the refineries in a worse state than ever.
As President Olusegun Obasanjo started his second term, he embarked on a different tactic altogether: wooing foreign investors to come and build their own refineries and distribution networks.

Bitter pill
Nigeria's downstream oil industry holds substantial appeal to international oil firms. The country has a population of 130 million and a large number of people with money to spend on fuel.

Is it right to force people to pay higher petrol prices?

In pictures
The problem has been compounded by the fact that oil prices have been rising steadily since President Obasanjo was re-elected, thus pushing the gap between the true price of petrol and the price at which it is sold in Nigeria ever wider.
But there is one obstacle preventing their entry into the marketplace: the heavy subsidies on fuel prices which amount to about $2bn a year.
That is why the government has been trying to press ahead with the highly unpopular measures of raising petrol prices, a move that is broadly supported by economists.
It is only when Nigeria's petrol prices come into line with their true value on the international marketplace that the foreign investors will finally arrive.

Angry drivers
President Obasanjo has been trying to persuade people of the benefits of removing the subsidies by convincing them that the money could be spent instead on improved education or health care.
Indeed, the amount of money spent subsiding fuel is a huge drain on the budget and could be spent much more effectively elsewhere. Subsidies, after all, benefit the rich as much as the poor.
But there is no easy way of weaning people off cheap fuel, and the promise of future investment in social services is hardly able to sway people who are facing an immediate rise in petrol prices they simply cannot afford.
The cost of fuel already accounts for an unwieldy proportion of people's pay packets. The prospect that fuel prices may double again is met with incredulity and, increasingly, anger.

Long-term fears
Two thirds of Nigeria's population is sill living on less than $1 a day, and the proposed fuel price increases are crippling large swathes of society, preventing people getting to work and threatening some small businesses with bankruptcy.

Nigerian two-wheel taxi drivers at fuel pump
The government wants to raise petrol prices by 25 per cent
The government's plans have been strenuously opposed every step of the way: people are weary of hearing that they must swallow a bitter pill for their own future good.
And that bitter pill is made virtually impossible to swallow by the knowledge that vast amounts of cash have been squandered or stolen during the 1980s and 90s.
This time, the threat of another general strike - and the union's promise to deliberately target oil exports - caused the government to back down on its policy at the eleventh hour.
Avoiding the hugely unpopular petrol price rises is undoubtedly a huge relief for many Nigerians in the short term.

But it is one step backwards in the long-term goal of breaking the cycle that makes Nigeria reliant on imported petrol, which leads to the equally unpopular fuel shortages.
Source: BBC News in Lagos. November 2004
Write: by Briony Hale

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U.S. conducts successful test of anti-ballistic missile laser
The United States has reported a successful ground-based test of an airborne laser meant to intercept ballistic missiles.

The Missile Defense Agency said the megawatt-class laser underwent a successful test on Nov. 10. The Pentagon agency said the laser was operated in a ground-based demonstration at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

Officials said this marked the first time that a directed energy weapon meant for use in a Boeing 747 aircraft has been demonstrated.

The test, which lasted a fraction of a second, involved the simultaneous firing of all six laser modules and associated optics that comprise the Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser. Officials said the modules, built by Northrop Grumman, performed as expected.

Officials said the test was conducted in the framework of the Airborne Laser project. "It was the first time that multiple modules of the powerful laser had ever been fired while linked together as a single unit," the Missile Defense Agency said in a statement on Nov. 10. "In the test, the laser light produced by the six modules was fired into a wall of metal called a calorimeter or beam dump. The temperature rise of the metal was used to validate that laser power was generated."

The ABL program has undergone a two-year delay in wake of the failure to develop a laser weapon that could be fitted into the nose of a Boeing 747-400F aircraft. The Pentagon has acknowledged that the laser system developed in 2002 was too heavy for flight.

The ABL, a program expected to reach $4 billion through 2008, has been designed to autonomously detect, track and destroy enemy ballistic missiles.

The high-power laser was meant to focus a basketball-sized spot of heat that can destroy a missile in the boost-phase of launch at a range of hundreds of kilometers.

Officials said the ABL was meant to intercept ballistic missiles from such countries as Iran and North Korea. Israel has expressed interest in the ABL and was said to be seeking to cooperate with the United States in a scaled-down version of the program.

The Nov. 10 test was said to have verified the integration, operation and control of six laser modules in flight configuration. Officials said the laser would be installed in the 747, integrated with the beam control/fire control system and eventually tested in flight.

Officials said the ABL prototype, termed YAL-1A, has resumed preparations for its first flight test. In December 2002, the aircraft was removed from service for modifications to the airframe to ensure the installation of the laser beam control system.

In early 2005, officials said, the ABL Track Illuminator Laser and Beacon Illuminator Laser would be installed. This would be followed by a flight of the YAL-1A that would include the test of the full beam control system.

At a later stage, the Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser would be installed on the Boeing 747, followed by additional ground and flight tests. Officials said no date has been set for the first ABL attempt to intercept a ballistic missile.
Write: LuisB. November 2004

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Study Examines Iraq Oil-For-Food Program
Saddam Hussein's regime made more than $21.3 billion in illegal revenue by subverting the U.N. oil-for-food program - more than double previous estimates, according to congressional investigators.

``This is like an onion - we just keep uncovering more layers and more layers,'' said Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., whose Senate Committee on Government Affairs received the new information at hearing Monday.

The new figures on Iraq's alleged surcharges, kickbacks and oil-smuggling are based on troves of new documents obtained by the committee's investigative panel, Coleman told reporters before the hearing. The documents illustrate how Iraqi officials, foreign companies and sometimes politicians allegedly contrived to allow the Iraqi government vast illicit gains.

The findings also reflect a growing understanding by investigators of the intricate schemes Saddam used to buy support abroad for a move to lift U.N. sanctions.

Coleman said the probe is just beginning and that officials aim to discover ``how this massive fraud was able to thrive for so long.'' He said he is angry that the United Nations has not provided documents and access to officials that investigators need to move ahead.

``Saddam Hussein attempted to manipulate the typical oil allocation process in order to gain influence throughout the world,'' Mark L. Greenblatt, a counsel for the Senate panel's permanent subcommittee on investigations, said in prepared testimony obtained by The Associated Press.

``Rather than giving allocations to traditional oil purchasers, Hussein gave oil allocations to foreign officials, journalists, and even terrorist entities, who then sold their allocations to the traditional oil companies in return for a sizable commission.''

The reference to terrorist groups referred to evidence that the regime had allocated oil to such organizations as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Mujahadeen Khalq, a group seeking to overturn the government of Iran, Greenblatt said.

Previous estimates - one from the General Accountability Office and the other by the top U.S. arms inspector Charles Duelfer - concluded that Saddam's government brought in $10 billion illicitly from 1990 to 2003, when sanctions were in place.

But congressional investigators found that vastly more oil - totaling $13.7 billion - was smuggled out of Iraq than previously thought. Investigators also raised the GAO's estimate of $4.4 billion in oil-for-food kickbacks by $200 million, and said the regime made $2.1 billion more through a scheme where foreign companies imported flawed goods at inflated prices.

According to the documents, the Iraqi government signed deals to import rotting food and other damaged goods with the full understanding of the exporting companies, who accepted payments for top quality products while kicking back much of the price difference to the Iraqi regime.

The panel estimated that such substandard goods accounted for 5 percent of all goods imported under the oil-for-food program, which was put in place in 1996 amid concerns that the Iraqi population was suffering from lack of food and medicines under the sanctions. The rough estimate ``is drawn from anecdotal information provide by officials of the former Iraq regime, the United Nations, and U.S. government officials,'' the panel said.

The total estimate of illegal revenue also includes $400 million from interest earned from hiding illicit funds in secret bank accounts. Another $400 million in illicit revenue grew out of pricing irregularities and kickbacks in the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq.

The Senate panel is conducting one of several congressional probes into alleged illegal profiteering in the oil-for-food program after allegations of corruption came to light earlier this year when Saddam was driven from power during the U.S.-led invasion. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker heads a panel that's conducting an independent investigation.

The new documents offer examples of how Saddam's regime - sometimes the former Iraqi president himself - awarded lucrative oil allocations to garner political favors.

In one document, Russian ultra-nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky - who campaigned for the lifting of sanctions on Iraq - invites an oil company to negotiate a price for an oil allocation the Iraqi government awarded him.

Zhirinovsky and other foreign officials and political figures implicated in the scandal so far - mostly from Russia, France and China - deny any wrongdoing.

In Zhirinovsky's case, the Russian allegedly used his political party's letterhead to invite an international oil company to Moscow to negotiate a deal to buy oil allocated to him.

The Iraqi government allocated 80 million barrels of oil to Zhirinovsky and his party, according to the panel, at a time when the Russian politician was backing Baghdad publicly.
Write: by Pauline Jelinek, Associated Press Writer. November 2004

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News Analysis: What next in the battle for Iraq?
U.S. military commanders say the weeklong assault that has wrested most of Falluja back from insurgent control achieved nearly all their objectives well ahead of schedule and with fewer pitfalls than anticipated. But where do the United States and the government of the interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, go from here? In the coming weeks, the two allies must still combat a resilient and dangerous insurgency operating in most of Iraq, accelerate a huge economic reconstruction effort and lay the groundwork for elections to be held in January. . One goal of the offensive in Falluja was to eliminate a major safe haven for insurgents, a hub for assassinations, car-bombings and ambushes from Ramadi to Baghdad and beyond. Another was to allow the city's 250,000 residents to participate in elections scheduled for January. . Registration is already under way elsewhere in Iraq, so commanders will face pressure to secure areas to permit Iraqi electoral commission employees to conduct their work. . Commanders and U.S. diplomats in Iraq are hoping that once rid of insurgents, cities in the Sunni heartland north and west of Baghdad will join the political process, despite calls by some Sunni groups last week to boycott next year's elections. . But obstacles remain. . "The Falluja operation will be a military success, but whether it's the key to political success will remain to be seen," Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, a member of the Armed Services Committee who visited Iraq on Friday and Saturday, said in a telephone interview. "The insurgents are working hard to derail this, and commanders are expecting widespread violence leading up to the elections in January." . Military commanders point to several accomplishments in Falluja. A bastion of resistance has been eliminated, with lower than expected U.S. military and Iraqi civilian casualties. Senior military officials say up to 1,600 insurgents have been killed and hundreds more captured, altogether more than half the number they estimated were in the city when the campaign began. . . But U.S. and Iraqi officials still face daunting tasks. . Falluja clearly will require a lot of effort even after the final pocket of insurgents is eliminated in the city, a senior U.S. general in Iraq said in an e-mail message.

"Lots of challenges - infrastructure, basic needs for returnees, security forces, and governance, not to mention elections. Assume the insurgents will continue to try to make life tough there as well.”

Outside Falluja, the insurgency rages on, amid intelligence reports that the battle has become a big recruiting draw for young Arab men in mosques from Syria to Saudi Arabia. . In Baghdad, where attacks were increasing even before the Falluja offensive, U.S. soldiers said that insurgents in at least one part of the capital shifted their tactics last week, massing in limited numbers in their attacks on Americans instead of shooting from the shadows and rooftops or laying ambushes with roadside bombs. . Sergeant Rowe Stayton, an infantry fire-team leader in northern Baghdad, said in an e-mail message that his troops had killed 15 insurgents and wounded 6 others, without suffering a casualty. . "Over all, yes, the anti-Iraqi forces have been more aggressive or stupid, depending on one's perspective," Stayton said. But commanders say they are baffled over how to combat an insidiously effective intimidation campaign that insurgents are waging against Iraqis from political leaders and police chiefs to the women who do the laundry for troops at U.S. bases.

"People are affected every day by criminality," Reed said.

"The situation has not - is not - turning around." U.S. officials say that about 100,000 Iraqi security forces have been trained and equipped, and that many are fighting side by side with U.S. forces. "The good news is that significant numbers of Iraqi security forces are standing their ground and fighting all over north-central Iraq," Major General John Batiste, the commander of the 1st Infantry Division based in Tikrit said in an e-mail message on Saturday. "Our hard work is paying off.”.

But not everywhere.
Last week, scores of police officers in Mosul fled their stations under insurgent attacks, allowing militants to loot half a dozen stations and steal dozens of police vehicles and uniforms and hundreds of weapons, all enough to set up an impostor police force, U.S. officer’s fear. Many senior officers grumble that reconstruction aid in Iraq, while beginning to flow to finance nearly 1,000 projects is still slowed by bureaucratic wrangling. . With most international aid organizations having withdrawn from Iraq because of the dangerous conditions, and many contractors skittish about sending workers into areas vulnerable to insurgent attacks, more and more U.S. troops will be called on to provide security to allow reconstruction to move ahead. . The Pentagon has extended the tours of about 6,500 troops to help with security, and senior commanders say that for now, the more than 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq should be enough.

But enough for what exactly?
The experience of Falluja in the next few may weeks may be instructive. . "The operational lesson is that 'taking' cities is comparatively easy, but that 'holding' them is harder and ultimately decisive," said an army officer who just returned for a year's duty near Falluja. "And that fight is largely one for Iraqis, not Americans, to win." .
Write: by Eric Schmitt, The New York Times. November 2004

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Somalia undeterred by peacekeeper opposition
Somalia's new government is determined to seek foreign peacekeepers to help stabilise the country despite a high-profile murder widely seen as a warning not to deploy them, the prime minister said.

"My government will not be demoralised by the killing of Gen. Mohammed Abdu," Mohammed Ali Geedi, prime minister of Somalia's new Transitional Federal Government (TFG), told Reuters late on Sunday.

"We will not despair. The government needs protection. So it is inevitable to bring protection forces for the government into the country, until disarmament is carried out."

Somalia's new president, Abdullahi Yusuf, has asked the African Union (AU) to send 20 000 peacekeepers to help disarm the militias who rule the damaged country of up to 10 million and collect the millions of small arms owned by Somalis.
The AU is considering the request but its fledgling peacekeeping department is already overstretched by trying to monitor a ceasefire in Sudan's troubled Darfur region.

General Mohammed Abdu Mohammed was shot by unidentified assailants in Mogadishu on November 5 in an attack seen by diplomats as a warning to the AU not to deploy the troops. He was flown to Kenya for treatment but died early last week.
The general, a prominent and respected figure who served in the long-defunct National Army of ousted Somali dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, was shot several days after he expressed support for the deployment of AU forces in media interviews and at seminars.

Several militant Islamist groups in Mogadishu long hostile to Yusuf have expressed opposition to the deployment of foreign forces, saying without elaborating that their use would be against Islam and they would transmit "diseases".
Yusuf was elected by a reconciliation conference held in Kenya last month seeking to end the chaos that has gripped the country since Siad Barre's overthrow in 1991. He picked Geedi, a former academic, as prime minister on November 3 and he and Geedi are due to pick a cabinet by December 2.

Geedi said the government had yet to get any funding from the international community and this would be forthcoming only when the cabinet was chosen. "There is a (funding) pledge but the condition is to set up governmental structures," he said.
Yusuf has yet to return to his Horn of Africa nation, where militias have ruled by the gun for the past 13 years.

Geedi was speaking after a luncheon for Somali politicians in Nairobi where powerful warlords Muse Sudi Yalahow, Osman Ato and Mohammed Qanyare pledged support for Yusuf's government.
A militant Somali Islamist, Hassan Dahir Aweis, has pledged to reject any attempt by Yusuf to return to Mogadishu, accusing him of being a puppet of neighbouring Ethiopia.

Aweis, who holds influence among militia allied to the city's Islamic courts, recently resurfaced after vanishing amid heightened US scrutiny of Somalia after the September 11 attacks.
Write: by Muse Sheikh Omar

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Arms Control Glance
A look at some Bush administration non-proliferation activities:- Proliferation Security Initiative: Begun in 2003, this calls on countries to work together to intercept components of weapons of mass destruction.
- Global Threat Reduction Initiative: Introduced this year, this provides assistance for nations to remove and secure high-risk radioactive materials so they can't be used by terrorists.
- Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program: This 1991 program initiated by Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and then-Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., provides funding for the dismantling of weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union and finding work for former weapons scientists.

In 2003, it was expanded to other nations and President Bush recently approved using Nunn-Lugar money to destroy chemical weapons in Albania, the first time for use outside the Soviet Union.

With support from the administration, Lugar is proposing changes to the program intended to remove bureaucratic obstacles and proposing a new program for the dismantling of conventional weapons.
- Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty: This long-debated treaty would ban production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons. The administration supports the treaty but says verification is not possible and that trying to develop verification procedures would delay approval of the treaty. Some arms control advocates say the treaty would be meaningless if compliance can't be verified.
- Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty: The administration supports an additional protocol to the treaty intended to make it harder for countries to use civil nuclear programs as a cover for nuclear weapons programs.

- U.N. Security Council Resolution 1540: Approved in April, this resolution sought by the administration required all U.N. members to pass laws preventing "non-state actors" such as terrorists and black marketeers from making or trafficking in weapons of mass destruction or the materials, the materials to make them and the missiles and other systems to deliver them.
Write: by LuisB. November 2004

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Trial of Kosovo Albanians begins
Kosovo Albanian women hold portraits of relatives missing since the 1999 war The court has so far dealt with abuses against ethnic Albanians Three Kosovo Albanians accused of committing war crimes during the Kosovo conflict have gone on trial in the International War Crimes tribunal.

The former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army are accused of atrocities against Serb and ethnic Albanian civilians in Kosovo in 1998.

Fatmir Limaj, Haradin Bala and Isak Musliu deny responsibility for torture and murder in the KLA's Lapushnik camp.

It is the first time that the tribunal has tried Albanians from Kosovo.
Prosecutors accuse the three men of detaining 35 Serb and Albanian civilians in the Lapushnik prison camp.
The indictment says that 14 were murdered before Serb forces took control of the area in eastern Kosovo in 1998 and that the KLA then killed 10 ethnic Albanian detainees accused of collaborating with Serbs.

Inhuman conditions
The charges against Mr Limaj, 33, a commander at the camp, include the murder of 10 Serbs and Albanians.
Former camp guard, Mr Musliu, 57, is accused of participating in the murder of four detainees in July 1998.
Mr Bala is, 54, accused of taking part in the execution of 11 detainees in the same month as Serb forces were in the process of retaking the Lapushnik region.

According to the charge sheet, the three men "contributed to maintaining inhuman conditions in the camp... and participating in acts of torture and physical cruelty inflicted on detainees".
The Hague tribunal is often accused of being biased against Serbs and not bringing more ethnic Albanians to trial.
The tribunal's chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, said she would issue a new indictment against KLA leaders before the end of the year.
She criticised the international community and the local authorities in Kosovo for their lack of co-operation with her investigation of alleged crimes committed by the KLA.

Specific crimes
The prosecutor said it was difficult to build indictments against Kosovo Albanians, because witnesses were afraid to testify.
A relative of one of the men on trial recently appeared in court accused of intimidating witnesses in this case.
Tribunal spokesman Jim Landale defended the court's record.

"It's clear from our records that we've had trials involving Serbs, Croats, Bosnian Muslims and now Kosovar Albanians, among others," he said

"What's important, however, is that the tribunal is putting on trial individuals charged with specific crimes - crimes that come within our jurisdiction - and in this particular case, violation of the laws and customs of war and crimes against humanity."

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False Security: Armored Cars
In late October, the assassination of Ansar Tebuev, the deputy prime minister of the Karachaevo-Cherkessia Republic, an autonomous republic in the North Caucasus. Tebuev, a former counterterrorism official, was ambushed at an intersection near his office at the Ministry of the Interior in the republic's capital of Cherkessk.

At the time of the attack, Tebuev was riding in an armored Niva sedan. Sources in the North Caucasus-based Russian law enforcement community say the assassins blocked Tebuev's car with their own vehicle, from which two gunmen jumped out and opened fire with AK-47 assault rifles. They reportedly targeted the radiator of the Niva first, and then concentrated their fire on its windshield. Several of the bullets struck the laminated window, and at least one of them penetrated the pane, killing Tebuev. Witnesses also said that as the attack unfolded, Tebuev's chauffeur jumped out of the vehicle and fled on foot.

Several aspects of the case - including the behavior of the driver - have authorities investigating whether Tebuev was killed in a terrorist plot or by other types of criminals. However, the fact that he was murdered despite the apparent protection of his armored vehicle raises several points that bear discussion.

Contrary to popular belief, whether the threat is one of kidnapping in Mexico City or terrorism in the Caucasus, an armored vehicle in and of itself does not provide complete security for its passengers. Instead, it is only one aspect of a total security strategy.

As the Tebuev case shows, armored vehicles are not designed to withstand concentrated fire from high-powered rifles. Repeated hits in a small area will eventually penetrate the ballistic glass or the metal armor in the body. Attacks such as the 1988 assassination of U.S. naval attache Capt. William Nordeen, killed by November 17 militants in Athens, have shown that armored vehicles do not necessarily withstand large improvised explosive devices, and the 1989 killing of Deutsche Bank Chairman Alfred Herrhausen in Germany demonstrate that they also do not protect against smaller devices at a closer distance, especially if the device uses a shaped or plate charge, which focuses the force of the explosion.

In a kidnapping scenario, if the vehicle is stopped or disabled, assailants can place an explosive device on it, forcing the occupants to open the door - a tactic witnessed several times in Latin America
- or they can pry it open like a can of sardines if given enough time. Since most armored vehicles use the car's factory-installed door-lock system, techniques used by car thieves, such as using master keys or punching out the locks, can also be used effectively.

Armored vehicles are designed to protect the occupant from an initial attack and to give them a chance to escape from the attack zone. Even the heaviest armored vehicles on the market do not provide a mobile safe haven in which one can merely sit and wait out an attack. If assailants know their target is using an armored vehicle, they will bring sufficient firepower to bear to achieve their goals. If the driver does not get the vehicle off the "X" of the attack site, the assailants essentially can do whatever they please.

That said, what else must be done to protect the armored vehicle's passenger?

The first and most crucial factor to consider is the driver: The car is only as good as its driver, so it is critical that the chauffeur be alert, motivated and willing to be trained. It is foolish to place an expensive security system - and the life of the principal target - in the hands of a minimum-wage employee. In addition to technical competence, the driver needs to clearly understand that he or she is responsible for the principal's safety, and that they are not merely "Driving Miss Daisy."

The next step is ensuring the driver is properly trained. Returning to the Tebuev case, the driver's reaction -fleeing as the gunmen opened fire -- reportedly has brought him under suspicion as being part of the plot. However, it is also quite possible that the driver merely panicked, froze and then fled to save his own skin - the typical reaction of an untrained person amid the shock of an armed attack.

A professional who has been trained in attack recognition and taken part in a number of emergency action drills usually can overcome the initial shock much more quickly - and even if not capable of executing a textbook-perfect maneuver, will be able to react. They are trained to get off the "X," and even an imperfect response is better than no response at all. For example, an U.S. security professional who was ambushed several years ago in Cairo by a group called Egypt's Revolution was actually shot in the head during the initial salvo of gunfire, but given his training, was able to floor the accelerator and point his car at the gunmen - who threw away their weapons and fled. Had he frozen on the "X," both he and his passenger would have been killed.

Periodic refresher training courses are also important for VIP drivers, to keep their skills polished and alertness elevated. Tactical training also can help them avoid the tendency to worry about damaging the often expensive vehicle they are driving - another common reaction among drivers. Many times they freeze rather than scratch a fender, not recognizing that their lives and that of their protectees are much more important than the paint job.

Third, protective teams assigned to VIPs must take serious steps to vary the times and travel routes the person uses, and to protect information about the principal's schedule. An armored vehicle can create a false sense of security that can be deadly. If someone is in a situation that requires an armored vehicle for protection, the most basic tenet of security must be acknowledged: A predictable travel route and schedule make an assault much easier to execute -- and as discussed earlier, an armored vehicle simply does not provide absolute protection from attack.

A final factor to consider is that in any type of assault, from a kidnapping to a terrorist assassination, preoperational surveillance must be conducted in order for the assailants to succeed. It is during this period that operatives are most vulnerable to detection and interdiction - and thus, that professional security programs begin to implement proactive security measures such as counter surveillance. Once an assault has begun, only reactive measures are left -- and the assailants, who have the element of surprise, will likely succeed.
Write: by LuisB. November 2004

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