Tuesday, September 3, 2013

US Claims About Syrian Chemical Attack ‘Unimaginable Nonsense’ : Viladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed the US on Saturday saying that Washington’s allegations about the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons against civilians were "unimaginable nonsense.”

“Common sense speaks for itself – government troops are advancing, in some regions they surrounded the insurgents,” Putin said. “In such conditions, giving a trump card to those who have always been calling for a foreign military intervention is simply unimaginable nonsense.”

“I am sure this was no more than a provocation by those looking to drag other countries [into the conflict] and obtain support of powerful international player, particularly the United States,” Putin said about the chemical attack that reportedly killed hundreds last week.

The United States said that the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad were behind the attack, but these claims require solid proof, Putin said, marking the first time he weighed in on the topic.

“Claims that the proof exists, but is classified and cannot be presented to anybody are below criticism,” Putin said during a trip to the far eastern city of Vladivostok. “This is plain disrespect for their partners.”

The White House released a report Friday blaming Assad’s regime for the attack, which cited “human, signals and geospatial intelligence,” as well as open source materials such as social media reports and videos of the alleged attack. The report explicitly stated that it omitted certain classified evidence, which was only made available to the US Congress.

Putin said Saturday that Russia denounced the use of chemical weapons and was ready for “consolidated participation in drafting measures to oppose such acts.”

He also denied discussing possible US military strikes on Syrian targets with his US counterpart Barack Obama on the phone.

But Putin said he was hoping to take up the Syrian issue with Obama during the upcoming G20 summit in Russia’s St. Petersburg on September 5-6.

Obama has explicitly blamed Assad for the attack and threatened missile and bomb strikes against selected Syrian targets in retribution for using weapons of mass destructions. He denied plans for a ground invasion of Syria or Assad’s overthrow. Damascus has called the attacks a provocation by rebels it is battling since 2011.

A UN investigative team was dispatched on the site of the attack and is expected to present its findings in mid-September, but its mandate is limited to establishing whether the attack took place, not naming the guilty parties.

The British parliament ruled Thursday against supporting a possible US military operation in Syria. Putin said Saturday he was “astonished” by the move, which, he added, was made by people “motivated by nation’s interests and common sense.”

More than 100,000 died in internal strife in Syria since the conflict’s outbreak, according to UN figures.

India's First Dedicated Satellite GSAT-7 Launched For Indian Navy

India's first exclusive satellite for Navy, GSAT-7, was successfully launched by European space consortium Arianespace's Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou spaceport in French Guiana, at 0200 hrs IST (Indian Standard Time) on Friday.

GSAT-7 is India's first dedicated spacecraft for Defense applications. 'It has frequency bands that will help marine communications', the PTI reported. Quoting an official of Bangalore-headquartered Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

'The satellite has coverage over India mainland and its surrounding seas. It's important from security and surveillance points of the view', the official said on condition of anonymity.

A wel known senior space scientist said, 'So far, Navy had limitation from line of sight and ionospheric effects etc. It was thought essential to have an integrated platform for their exclusive use. Earlier, satellite communication in ships was through Inmarsat (a major provider of global mobile satellite communications services). Now, India will have its own set up' ISRO shies away from calling it an exclusive satellite for the Navy on record, but privately admits exactly that.

The Rs 1,850,000 state-of-the-art satellite carries payloads operating in UHF, S, C and Ku bands.

GSAT-7 has a lift-off mass of 2,625 kg and is based on ISRO’s 2,500 kg satellite bus with some new technological elements, including the antena, Its solar arrays generate 2,900 W of electrical power.

A108 Ampere-Hour Lithium-Ion battery enables the satellite to function during the eclipse period. The propulsion subsystem has a 440 Newton Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) and thrusters.

The launch cost for ISRO is around Rs 470 crore, including insurance. ISRO can't launch heavy satellites like GSAT-7 as its home-grown GSLV rocket, with indigenous cryogenic stage, is still at works and needs two successful flights before it's declared operational.

Radiation Spike Seen In Fukushima Nuclear Plant

Japanese nuclear officials say the radiation level of a tank holding highly contaminated water at Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has jumped in just one week to a potentially dangerous level.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, said the reading of 1,800 millisieverts at the tank Saturday is enough to kill an exposed person in four hours. On August 22, the same tank measured 100 millisieverts per hour - just a fraction of Saturday's reading.

Tepco also revealed that a pipe connecting two other tanks is leaking. However, the energy company said the water levels of the tanks had not changed. The French news agency says the leak has been patched with plastic tape.

Last month, a tank was found to have leaked 300 tons of highly toxic water.

The tanks at Fukushima are built with steel plates and are held together with bolts.

Reuters news agency says Tepco is seeking foreign decommissioning experts for advice on how to deal with the highly radioactive water leaking from the site.

The Fukushima Daiichi power plant, north of Tokyo, was devastated by a tsunami in March 2011 that resulted in fuel-rod meltdowns at three reactors, radioactive contamination of the air, sea and food, and the evacuation of more than 100,000 people.

Dark Secret Behind Mystery of The "Flying Coffins"

A post-mortem of the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) MiG series of fighter jets has come up with shocking revelations pointing to perennial engine oil leaks besides other serious technical glitches that have lent the aircraft notorious distinction of ‘flying coffin’ or ‘widow-maker’ owing to frequent crashes and loss of human lives.

Every MiG crash in the country invited emotional outbursts from public and stinging rebuke from defence analysts, but the incidents were invariably written off claiming them to be human error.

Documents accessed by The Sunday Standard reveal that MiG engines that propelled these roaring fighter jets, once considered backbone of the IAF, are of poor quality. Nearly 40 per cent of these engines and accessories produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Koraput, have been returned by the IAF for some or the other defects. HAL is a Navratna company, owned by the government.

The problem ranges from oil leak, metallic particle in oil filters and hot air leak from rear casing to trouble in compressor and even in turbine of MiG-27 aero engines. The defects are scary for the government, which has lost almost half of its MiG fleet to the crashes in the last 40 years, leaving 171 pilots and 39 civilians dead. Although Defence Minister A K Antony had told Parliament last year that both human error and technical defects were responsible for MiG crashes, he conveniently forgot to inform people about horrific condition of government’s state-of-the-art manufacturing unit.

“Most of the cause factors can be classified as defects during manufacturing or overhauling process. IAF has been flagging these issues but government’s response is slow,” said an official on the condition of anonymity.

It is learnt that all three MiGs—MiG-27, MiG-29 and MiG-21—are facing serious quality issues. MiG-27 suffered Low Pressure Turbine Rotor (LPTR) failure in at least 11 recent incidents. The HAL in some cases even lied while overhauling the LPTR, saying it had followed the overhaul manual but Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials said the procedure recommended by the original equipment manufacturer was not being implemented by the celebrated company.

There are more shocking facts conveniently swept under the carpet. The springs installed in fuel pump of MiG 21 engines are failing frequently. A MiG-21 Bison aircraft crashed in November 2012 in Gujarat which was attributed to spring failure.

The documents suggest that of the five main fuel pumps fitted with HAL-manufactured springs, at least three springs failed, which is unforgivable as it would have certainly resulted in accidents. Shockingly, the main fuel pumps of MiG-21 Bison engine continue to leak fuel, despite four studies conducted and implemented since 1990s. It says despite incorporating changes, fuel leak from main fuel pump continued unabated from throttle end.

A senior official said flying operations of MiG-29 fleet are often suspended due to non-availability of critical accessories and poor quality of repairing. Even if one aircraft of the fleet is affected by the snag, the entire fleet is grounded till the problem is identified and resolved.

However, another reason behind the poor quality of production and engine repairs is attributed to mass production work in the last leg of production year, to achieve the target. For example, in the first six months of 2012-13 production year, HAL finished the work on only four MiG-29 engines, but in the last quarter of the year, four engines were completed within three months.

Similarly for MiG-27, the HAL finished the work on nine engines in nine months, but interestingly another nine engines were completed within the last three months. The issue was flagged by the MoD saying such trend is adversely affecting the quality of aero engines.

“HAL is not interested to provide quality engines or repair work to the IAF. They are only interested in meeting the production numbers every year. There is also an impression that the work force in HAL delays the production to last three months to earn few extra bucks for ‘over time’ which is disgusting, given the fact that human lives are at stake,” an official said.