Syrian MP threatens to hit Dimona

“If Syria feels threatened by Israel, it will be hard to stop our
missile operators from responding to the Israeli aggression by
attacking the Dimona nuclear reactor,” Syrian legislator Muhammad
Habash was quoted as saying Saturday.
In an interview with Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Habash emphasized that the
Dimona reactor is “within range” of the Syrian missiles.
Habash told the London-based newspaper that Syria did not rule out a
violation of its sovereignty by Israel and said Damascus was “prepared”
for this eventuality.
However, the Syrian legislator stressed that Damascus did not want to
escalate the situation in the region.
Habash, who coordinates with the Presidential Palace in Damascus, also
claimed that international mediators were constantly making efforts to
renew ties between Israel and Syria but underlined that at the moment,
there was no contact between the two countries.
Despite Habash's threat, Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry
Diplomatic-Security Branch, dismissed any notion of high tension
between Israel and Syria.
He told Israel Radio that he chose to see Habash's words in a
different, more positive light.
“Since Israel is not threatening Syria, and the Syrians are well aware
of this, there is no war on the agenda between Israel and …

Israel fears clash with U.S. over peace talks' impasse

By Barak Ravid 
A senior adviser to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel may come
into conflict with the United States over increased pressure by
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to advance talks with the
Palestinian Authority. Meanwhile, the Israeli and PA negotiating teams,
headed by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Ahmed Qureia, respectively,
are to meet Sunday ahead of Tuesday's meeting between Olmert and PA
President Mahmoud Abbas.
The U.S. might want to up the pressure on Israel to fulfil its
obligations in the first stage of the road map, the adviser said in
private conversations, particularly removing illegal outposts and
freezing construction in the territories.
“Their demands from Israel will only increase and it is not certain
that we can meet them under the circumstances,” he added.  
The adviser said that in Vice Premier Haim Ramon's talks with American
officials, he had gone “too far in promising them things to please
them.”
Another senior government official involved in the talks also warned of
expected crises with the Palestinians and the Americans.
“Israel has created a series of far-reaching expectations in the
international arena,” this official said, referring to the
implementation of the first part of the road …

RUSSIAN Railways want tiny robots to replace humans in difficult maintenance work,

and they want Russian-made androids that can dance and talk.
Prototypes of tested Russian robots
“surpass foreign-produced robots with their technical
characteristics,” according to a statement
from Russian Railways overnight.
They have bought eight Russian robots for testing.
Seven are 35-centimetres high,
and the
eighth is 1.4 metres tall and weighs 70 kilograms.
The plan is to “build special robot models that can replace humans in particularly
difficult work for railways,” the statement said.
The robots can inspect parts of trains that are difficult for humans to access, Roman Timofeyev
, a rail official, told Vesti 24 television channel.
Russian television showed the robots dancing on tables in front of amazed members of the public.
Original Source

Missile defense going global

By James T. Hackett – The Dec. 17 interception of a ballistic missile by a Japanese Aegis destroyer off the Hawaiian Island of Kauai is a milestone in the U.S.-Japan missile defense collaboration.
The Bush administration's goal of global missile defenses is becoming reality, but to effectively protect the Eastern United States defenses in Europe are needed.
For years, representatives of Japan and a number of other countries attended missile defense conferences. They regularly announced plans to study the need for missile defenses. Each year they said the same, but there was little sense of urgency and no sign of progress, except in Israel and the United States.
The United States developed the Patriot PAC-2 to stop short-range missiles just in time to defend U.S. troops and Israel in the first Gulf war. Then Israel, surrounded by enemies, developed and deployed its Arrow missile interceptor in record time.
Land-based Patriots were sent to defend U.S. forces and allies around the world, but the ABM treaty prevented the U.S. from developing either a national missile defense or ship-based defenses. The problem became critical in 1998 when North Korea launched a Taepodong missile over northern Japan. It was a blatant threat to …

Iran, Russia discuss defense ties

A senior Russian military official has arrived in Tehran to discuss defense cooperation with Iran, the Iranian Defense Ministry says.
Head of the Russian Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation,
Mikhail Dmitriyev arrived in Tehran on Wednesday to take part in the fourth meeting of the Iran-Russia Joint Defense Cooperation Commission.
Dmitriyev held talks with Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi, who heads the Iranian side of the commission.
During the negotiations both sides stressed the need to expand Iran-Russia defense cooperation.
They also reviewed agreements reached during earlier meetings of the commission. 
Original Source

Warning over Pentagon war funding

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has warned that the US military is in danger of running out of money for its operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He said Congressional funding for the wars was inadequate and budget constraints were undermining planning.
Congress this week approved $70bn (£35bn) – just half the sum that US President George W Bush had sought.
But Mr Gates also said many troops could be pulled out of Iraq as planned next year thanks to better security.
He raised the possibility of five combat brigades returning home by July next year, with the first unit due to leave this month.
'Fit and starts'
However he said during an end-of-year news conference: “Funding the war in fits and starts is requiring us to make short-term plans and short-term decisions.”
The defence secretary said in September he hoped US troop levels might be reduced to 100,000 by the end of 2008.
There are currently almost 160,000 US troops in Iraq.
Asked whether he was still aiming for such a reduction, Mr Gates said he now regretted having used a specific number.
But he said he did expect to see a decrease in the number of brigade combat teams. …