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Thursday, January 25, 2018

What’s Going On In The World Today-180124

Alleged CIA China turncoat Lee may have compromised U.S. spies in Russia too

The arrest last week of a former CIA officer suspected of spying for China exposed one of the most significant intelligence breaches in American history. But the damage is even worse than first reported, sources familiar with the matter tell NBC News.

A secret FBI–CIA task force investigating the case concluded that the Chinese government penetrated the CIA's method of clandestine communication with its spies, using that knowledge to arrest and execute at least 20 CIA informants, according to multiple current and former government officials.

American officials suspect China then shared that information with Russia, which employed it to expose, arrest and possibly even kill American spies in that country, said the current and former officials, who declined to be named discussing a highly sensitive matter. The possible sharing with Russia has not previously been reported.

Those sobering findings, sometime after the inquiry began in 2012, led the CIA to temporarily shut down human spying in China, and to overhaul the way it communicates with its assets around the world, according to former government officials familiar with the case.

It was a shocking blow to an American spy agency that prides itself on its field operations. There was also a devastating human cost: Some 20 CIA sources were executed by the Chinese government, two former officials said — a higher number of dead than initially reported by NBC News and the New York Times. Then an unknown number of Russian assets also disappeared, sources say.

Eventually a top secret joint FBI-CIA task force investigation led authorities to suspect that former CIA case officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee had been spying for China. Lee, 53, was arrested this week and charged, not with espionage, but with a single count of possessing classified information.

U.S. officials told NBC News they don't believe Lee ever will be charged as a spy, in part because they don't have all the proof they might need, and in part because they would not want to air the evidence they do have in a public courtroom...

The Pentagon Wants Its Nuclear Tomahawks Back

The Trump administration will embark on a “big-league” revival of the U.S. nuclear complex after decades of decline by reviving production of plutonium cores for new warheads and reintroducing a sea-launched cruise missile, among other plans.

A leaked draft of the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review confirms what has been foreshadowed by U.S. military leaders over the past year: America will respond to the growing might of the nuclear forces of China and Russia, as well as emerging threats from North Korea, by broadly modernizing its outdated nuclear arsenal of Cold War-era bombers, submarines, missiles and nuclear-certified tactical fighters.

The draft policy, if adopted, would “move forward without delay [and] seek opportunities to accelerate” every key modernization program set in motion by the previous administration. This includes the Columbia-class submarine, Northrop Grumman B-21 bomber, Ground-Based Strategic Deterrence ballistic missile, Long-Range StandOff cruise missile, dual-capable Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and B61-12 guided free-fall bomb...










Who Would Lose More in a U.S.-China War of Reciprocity?

The United States spent 2017 laying the groundwork needed to aggressively pressure China on trade and investment in 2018. Now it appears the pressure is on. On Jan. 17, InsideTrade reported that the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is contemplating setting up a system of reciprocity on Chinese foreign direct investment in the United States. Under that system, the United States would treat Chinese investment into U.S. sectors the same way China treats U.S. investment into its analogous sectors. It would fall to Chinese investors to prove their desired investments would be allowed under Chinese investment rules.

Rather than limit Chinese investment, the Trump administration seems to want to force China to change its investment policies — which it has been slowly doing albeit at levels far below those expected. The risk Washington is taking, however, is enormous. The plan could face significant legal challenges internationally and domestically. And it could also harm U.S. businesses depending on Chinese investment or those with investments in China at risk of Chinese reciprocation...

...Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his North Korean counterpart, Ri Yong Ho, in a meeting in the Philippines on Aug. 6 that Pyongyang should stop carrying out nuclear and missile tests, BBC reported...


U.S. Sanctions Abet Iranian Internet Censorship

If the United States wants to stand behind the next #IranProtests, it should liberalize rules that impede access to cutting-edge tools against repression.

President Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement if Tehran does not agree to renegotiate its terms this spring. But rather than tear up the nuclear agreement, the Trump administration should work to support the next #IranProtests — which would be far more likely to bring change to Tehran than would a U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal.,,

For the Iranian Internet, It's High Speed, High Control


Iran has learned its lessons from the Green Movement of 2009 to hone a better system of managing the flow of information within the country.
Instead of shutting down the internet at the first sign of trouble, Iranian authorities have developed a system of separating approved domestic web activity from sources of potential subversion.

President Hassan Rouhani promised a freer internet in his last election campaign, but his plans have been largely co-opted by conservatives operating a new national cyber network.
The storm has passed, and Iran's internet is starting to return to all systems go. When people in cities across the country began protesting a litany of issues at the end of last month, Iran's leaders did what many countries have done when confronted with such a situation: They imposed restrictions on the internet. But unlike some countries that have reached for a sledgehammer to swat a fly, Iranian officials didn't opt for an absolute shutdown of the country's internet. Instead, they resorted to more nuanced measures that showed they have succeeded in developing a far more sophisticated infrastructure to manage the web since the country last experienced such turmoil in 2009.

The emergence of the internet and other communications platforms has led to an unprecedented increase in the access to information, but such developments have led countries to pursue measures to control and filter the digital flow. China has developed one of the world's most comprehensive internet control mechanisms with the Great Firewall, and now Iran has its own monitoring success story. Iran's National Information Network may lack the name cachet of the Great Firewall, but its performance in strangling access to opposition content during the most recent protests proved that Iran is hard on China's heels in terms of controlling the flow of information. What's more, the network might just strengthen the hand of Iranian conservatives in co-opting President Hassan Rouhani's attempts to foster a more open Iranian internet.






Security at the 2018 Winter Olympics
2018 Olympic venue in Pyeongchang, South Korea


Has Russia’s Robotic Nuclear Torpedo Surfaced?

The prospect of a quiet, long-range drone that can obliterate a port is unnerving enough. That it comes amid Russia's newfound assertiveness only adds to U.S. concern.
In 2015, Russia television "accidentally" showed a glimpse of plans for a proposed new 100-megaton autonomous torpedo designed to destroy American ports and poison the coastline of any adversary it targets. Analysts were left wondering whether the blueprints were a sign that Moscow was returning to the good old days of bizarre Cold War weapons development—or just bluffing to keep the Yankees off balance.

The U.S. government still appears to believe that the weapon is a real Russian program, according to a leaked draft of the Trump administration's forthcoming Nuclear Posture Review obtained by the Huffington Post.

Jeffrey Lewis, a scholar at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, first noticed a brief reference to the weapon in a section of the report listing "New Nuclear Delivery Vehicles Over the Past Decade." The grainy, photocopied graphic shows the outline of "Status 6," an abbreviation of Russia's designation for the weapon, alongside the acronym "AUV"—short for autonomous underwater vehicle—in a column detailing sea-based nuclear modernization efforts of Russia and other countries over the past seven years. The review also references Russia's development of a "nuclear-armed, undersea autonomous torpedo" that matches the description of the weapon originally shown on Russian TV.

Little is known about the oceanic dirty bomb outside of its brief debut in Russian media. A November 2015 Channel One broadcast covering a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and senior military officials briefly showed a slide with an artist's rendering of the weapon—a glimpse described as an accidental leak of classified information by the Kremlin and assessed by some Russia watchers as an entirely intentional threat from Moscow.

H.I. Sutton, Covert Shores

The slide asserts that the drone can travel at a speed of more than 100 knots for as far as 10,000 kilometers, while sporting a 100-megaton nuclear warhead. Noting that “an important object of war is against the economy in coastal regions," it claims the "Status-6 Oceanic Multipurpose System" is capable of "guaranteeing mortal damage to the territory of countries, creation of zones of radioactive pollution unfit for carrying out military, economic and other activities."

A year later, the Washington Free Beacon carried a report claiming that the Pentagon had detected a Russian Sarov-class submarine carried out a test of the Status-6 weapon in November 2016. An intelligence assessment leaked to the outlet affirmed that the weapon, known to the Defense Department as "Kanyon," would carry megaton-class nuclear warheads.

The prospect of a new quiet, long-range drone that can swim up to the U.S. coast and obliterate a port along with the environmental viability of the surrounding areas was unnerving enough. That it came amidst Russia's newfound assertiveness to challenge the West only added to the concern among American policymakers...


Turkey has sent six howitzers and tanks with military vehicles to its Kilis province, which borders the Kurdish-controlled Afrin region of Syria, Reuters reported Aug. 5.




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