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U.S., China, S.Korea warn about nuclear terrorism

"We should commit to eliminating nuclear proliferation and the roots of nuclear terrorism," Chinese President Hu said (photo)Chinese President Hu

Seoul, Mar. 26.─ The leaders of South Korea, the United States and China issued stark warnings Tuesday about the threat of nuclear terrorism during the final day of a nuclear summit that has so far been upstaged by North Korea's long-range rocket launch plans.

Nearly 60 leaders have gathered for the two-day conference meant to find ways to keep terrorists from detonating an atomic weapon in a major city. The leaders were to release a communique Tuesday about their efforts to lock down the world's supply of nuclear material by 2014.

Much of the drama, however, has centered on North Korea's stated plans to launch a satellite on a long-range rocket around the April 15 celebration of the birthday of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung.

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Pope in Cuba as "pilgrim of charity"

"I carry in my heart the just aspirations and legitimate desires of all Cubans, wherever they may be, their sufferings and their joys, their concerns and their noblest desires, those of the young and the elderly, of adolescents and children, of the sick and workers, of prisoners and their families, and of the poor and those in need", said the PopeRaul Castro receives Benedict XVI [ Read full Pope's speech ]

Santiago de Cuba, Mar.26 (AP).─ Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Cuba on Monday in the footsteps of his more famous predecessor, saying he holds great affection for Cubans on both sides of the Florida Straits and heartfelt hopes for reconciliation.

President Raul Castro warmly greeted the pope, who said he was coming as "a pilgrim of charity" as he arrived at the sweltering airport in Santiago, Cuba's second largest city.

The pontiff, who last week said Marxism "no longer responds to reality," gave a more gentle tweak to his hosts by expressing sympathy for all islanders, including prisoners.



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The Military Balance 2012

The Military Balance 2012Mar. 7 (─ The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) just published its annual publication The Military Balance 2012.  This is an annual assessment of the military capabilities and defense economics of 171 countries world-wide that supplements the pictographically detailed books published by Jane's Defense & Security Intelligence & Analysis.

This year’s Military Balance includes brief textual summaries of countries’ military capabilities to help inform readers’ understanding of the numerical data. Also for the first time, the book has brief assessments of individual states’ cyber capacities, including relevant organizations and assessed capabilities.  According to the IISS «military cyber power could be defined as ‘the use, or threatened use, of cyberspace and other resources to effect strategic aims in and through cyberspace against the resistance or wishes of others.’»

This edition assesses developments in the Middle East, in particular the recent upheavals in Libya, Egypt and Syria.  In the case of Syria, it considers that “President Assad’s apparent strategy has been to secure regime loyalists, and of course suppress the opposition, while keeping the level of conflict below that which would risk triggering international intervention.” Regarding the Libyan conflict, it “was also noteworthy because of the overwhelming predominance of precision-guided air-launched munitions, setting a new standard for those taking part in future such operations”

The book takes into account that the political and military landscape in the Middle East and North Africa is being reshaped, “with long-held assumptions about regional power balances, military capabilities and deterrence being challenged. For example, the Arab Awakening has seen unprecedented willingness by several Arab governments to back, and participate in, military operations”.


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Asia defence spending overtakes Europe

New weapons aquired by Asian nationsMar. 7.─ Asian defence spending is this year set to exceed that of Europe for the first time in modern history as European Union nations slash their military budgets and Chinese expenditure accelerates, a leading think-tank reports on Wednesday.

In a blunt assessment of the shift in the global redistribution of military power across the world, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) says Asia is becoming increasingly militarised as a result of rapid economic growth and strategic uncertainty.

At the same time, European states are responding to the economic crisis in the west by cutting military budgets, with some 16 Nato member states in Europe reducing annual budgets between 2008 and 2010.

"Since the financial crisis in 2008, there has been a convergence in European and Asian defence spending levels," the IISS says in its annual publication The Military Balance.

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North Korea agrees to nuclear moratorium

Korean leader agrees on nuclear moratoriumMar. 1.─ North Korea has agreed to suspend uranium enrichment and nuclear and long-range missile tests in a breakthrough in negotiations with the United States, which is set to provide food aid in return.

The rare simultaneous announcements Wednesday by the two longtime adversaries could clear the way for resumption of multi-nation disarmament-for-aid talks that the North withdrew from in 2009.

Coming just over two months after the death of longtime ruler Kim Jong Il, it signals a willingness by the secretive government under his untested youngest son, Kim Jong Un, to improve ties with the U.S. and win aid.

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