06 Oct 17. U.S. approves possible $15bn sale of THAAD missiles to Saudi Arabia. The U.S. State Department has approved the possible sale of a THAAD anti-missile defence system to Saudi Arabia at an estimated cost of $15bn (11.48bn pounds), the Pentagon said on Friday, citing Iran among regional threats.
The approval opens the way for Saudi Arabia to purchase 44 Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) launchers and 360 missiles, as well as fire control stations and radars.
“This sale furthers U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, and supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of Iranian and other regional threats,” the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation agency said in a statement.
Saudi Arabia and the United States are highly critical of what they consider Iran’s aggressive behaviour in the Middle East.
Iran also has one of the biggest ballistic missile programs in the Middle East, viewing it as an essential precautionary defence against the United States and other adversaries, primarily Gulf Arab states and Israel.
THAAD missile systems are deployed to defend against ballistic missile attacks.
Saudi-owned al Arabiya television reported on Thursday that the kingdom had agreed to buy Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems, an announcement that came as Saudi King Salman made during his visit to Russia, the first by a Saudi monarch.
U.S. military sales to Saudi Arabia have come under increased scrutiny over the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen.
Riyadh and its allies have been bombing the Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen since the Houthis seized much of the country’s north in 2015. Riyadh says the coalition is fighting terrorists and supporting Yemen’s legitimate government but the office of the U.N. human rights chief has said Saudi-led air strikes cause the majority of civilian casualties. Lockheed Martin Co is the prime contractor for the THAAD system, with Raytheon Co playing an important role in the system’s deployment.
The United States deployed THAAD to South Korea this year to guard against North Korea’s shorter-range missiles. That has drawn fierce criticism from China, which says the system’s powerful radar can probe deep into its territory. (Source: Reuters)
06 Oct 17. The Nobel Committee announced that the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) would receive this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and to achieve a landmark treaty banning such weapons.
In response to the news, Derek Johnson, the executive director of Global Zero, the international movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons, issued the following statement:
“All of us at Global Zero extend warm congratulations to our friends at ICAN on the announcement of their Nobel Peace Prize. This award is richly deserved. ICAN has undertaken a sustained and powerful effort to shine a spotlight on the barbaric impact of nuclear weapons and to build political will among non-nuclear states to demand their prohibition.
“The nuclear ban treaty, which ICAN helped catalyze at the United Nations, gives voice to the voiceless — and it is our sincere hope that it marks a point of departure in the discourse on nuclear weapons. Especially now, at a time when the risks of nuclear war are higher than at any point in recent memory.
“It is an inspiring day for all those committed to building a world without nuclear weapons. Global Zero will carry that inspiration with us as we continue our focus on pressuring nuclear-armed states to reverse course on misguided nuclear spending sprees, to retire dangerous Cold War policies that keep thousands of nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert, to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in their national security policies, and to urgently pursue the phased, verified elimination of all nuclear weapons globally.
06 Oct 17. Report: Bangladesh defence spending