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04 Aug 13. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. A newspaper article (The Mail on Sunday, 4 Aug 13) drew attention to the stand being taken by Mrs A Aston, the widow of a Royal Military Policeman killed with five others in Majar-al Kabir on 24 Jun 03. Mrs Aston has described a group legal action against the MoD for negligence as “wrong and embarrassing”; pointing out that the claim is unfair on the other relatives of those killed who have coped silently.
Comment: During the past week, as far as Afghanistan is concerned, there has been a ‘deafening silence’ from the MoD. Of the commentators, Philip Stephens wrote a particularly thought-provoking article for the Financial Times. (‘Out of sight, out of mind – a rotten way to quit a war.’ – 9 Aug 13.) Mr Stephens started with a question:
“Whatever happened to the war?” and concluded “By 2018 will anyone in the West care who runs Kabul? Maybe not. But what a rotten way to leave.” (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 13/32, 12 Aug 13)
06 Aug 13. Yemen: Embassy Closed. The Foreign Office advised (6 Aug 13) that all staff in the British Embassy Sana.a had been temporarily withdrawn and that the Embassy will remain closed until staff are able to return. The situation in Yemen remained volatile with continuing unrest and violent clashes. There was said to be a high threat from terrorism throughout Yemen.
Comment: The Foreign Office briefs that Yemen is “by far the poorest Country in the Middle East, with an humanitarian crisis comparable to parts of the Horn of Africa”. The Friends of Yemen was established in January 2010 and is co-chaired by the UK with Saudi Arabia and Yemen. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 13/32, 12 Aug 13)
07 Aug 13. Gibraltar: Border Dispute. The Prime Minister’s office confirmed (7 Aug 13) that the Prime Minister telephoned his Spanish counterpart in order “to raise his concerns about the situation at the Gibraltar border”. The Prime Minister made clear that the UK.s position on the sovereignty of Gibraltar and its surrounding waters will not change. The two leaders agreed that the Foreign Ministers of Spain and the United Kingdom should begin talks immediately to resolve the disagreement.
Comment: Spain and England concluded the Treaty of Utrecht on 13 Jul 1713, in which Spain ceded Gibraltar to the British “forever, without any exception or impediment whatsoever”. Under a long-standing arrangement, HMS WESTMINSTER is due to dock in Gibraltar (Item 6) and efforts by the media to misconstrue this routine event are ill-considered. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 13/32, 12 Aug 13)
16 Jul 13. Nuclear Safety: Annual Report. The Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator (DNSR) published (16 Jul 13) the DNSR Annual Report 2012/2013, for the period up to 31 Mar 13. Having concluded that “ageing submarines and infrastructure are being safely managed” the Report addresses the Defence Nuclear Programme (DNP) as a whole. “Those responsible for delivering the DNP have maintained an adequate standard of nuclear and radiological safety for the submarine crews, the Defence workforce, the public and the protection of the environment.”
Comment: The DNP, as above, covers the Naval Nuclear Propulsion programme and the Nuclear Weapon programme. Although there are some areas of concern, or “eight key issues”, improvement is forecast. The situation is not as bleak as that described by the tabloid press (The Mail on Sunday, 4 Aug 13). DNSR Annual Report 2012/2013 is available through the Government web portal (www.gov.uk/) and can be found listed under ‘publications.’ (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 13/32, 12 Aug 13)
07 Aug 13. Brompton Road Underground Station: For Sale. The MoD advised