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NEWS IN BRIEF

EUROPE

05 Apr 06. Eurofighter offers partnership to Norway’s industry. Eurofighter is offering Norwegian industry a strategic partnership based on full access and exchange of technology, according to a Eurofighter press briefing. The consortium held the briefing in Oslo after delivering its answer to a Request for Information (RfI) from the Norwegian Ministry of Defence. (Source: Jane’s Defence Weekly)

30 Mar 06. UK retires Sea Harrier FA.2 from service. The UK Royal Navy (RN) has lost its outer layer of air defence with the standing down of the last Sea Harrier FA.2 squadron. 801 Naval Air Squadron, part of the RN/Royal Air Force (RAF) Joint Force Harrier (JFH), decommissioned at RNAS Yeovilton on 28 March. Four Sea Harrier FA.2 aircraft flew to RAF Shawbury on 29 March for storage and subsequent disposal and the fifth went to RNAS Culdrose for aircraft shiphandling trials. (Source: Jane’s Defence Weekly)

07 Apr 06. The laws of war need to be redrawn by the international community, John Reid, defence secretary, will say today, to eliminate the causes of legal anomalies, of which the US detention centre on Guantanamo Bay is the glaring example. Talking to the Royal United Service Institute for Defence and Security Studies, Mr Reid will argue that the Geneva Conventions, signed in 1949, were written for a world of state-to-state conflict and fail to meet all the needs of today’s battles against terrorist groups and insurgents. “Until recently it was assumed that only states could cause mass casualties and our rules, conventions and laws are largely predicated on that basis,” he will say. “That is no longer the case. I believe we now need to debate whether we – the international community in its widest sense – need to re-examine these conventions. If we do not, we risk going on fighting a 21st century conflict with 20th century rules.”
One possible move, to which Mr Reid makes an implicit reference, would be to agree a new protocol to the Geneva Conventions to apply the same rules to battles with al-Qaeda-style insurgents, so both sides have a clear duty to obey the standard provisions. At present the UK and the US say they are not bound by the Geneva Conventions in fighting al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, although the UK obeys its dictates “voluntarily” and that the enemy side is operating in legal limbo. The US has sought to develop an idea of enemy combatants, who when detained are neither prisoners of war nor ordinary criminals. Extending the conventions would make such fighters subject to criminal proceedings, so ridding the US of any need to detain them in Guantanamo-style centres. Mr Reid’s speech will focus on updating the international legal system to deal not only with modern terrorism but also with issues of potential genocide and res-ponses to imminent threats. (Source: FT)

07 Apr 06. John Reid, the UK defence minister, has denied that Washington and London have discussed the possibility of Britain hosting missile interceptors as part of the US “Star Wars” missile defence system. US Lieutenant General Trey Obering, head of the Missile Defense Agency, told a conference in Washington last month that the UK was one of three candidates – along with Poland and the Czech Republic – to host missile interceptors in Europe. Pentagon and British defence officials said at the time there had been no discussions between the countries. The missile interceptors, which would be placed in Europe by 2010, would be part of the ballistic missile defence system, for which Donald Rumsfeld, US defence secretary, is a strong advocate. Any European site would be the third location for interceptors, in addition to Alaska and California.
A Pentagon spokesman confirmed on Thursday that the Missile Defense Agency was hoping to make a decision by October on whether, and where, to deploy interceptors in Europe. In spite of the fact that the UK was listed in an MDA document as a possible host site, Mr Reid denied that any discussions had ta

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