Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Global nuclear talks begin in Geneva

Angela Kane, High Representative of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs
[PHOTO: UNifeed]
Geneva: The Second Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) opened on Monday in Geneva against the backdrop of rising nuclear tensions in the Korean peninsula and Iran's nuclear enrichment programme.

Angela Kane, High Representative of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, opening the meeting warned: "We have also all witnessed in recent months a deterioration of the security situation on the Korean peninsula, which has featured threats from the People's Democratic Republic of Korea to resume missile tests and even to use nuclear weapons. We see signs of an arms race in South Asia involving fissile material production, and the competitive development of both nuclear-capable missiles and nuclear weapons. We see that sustained diplomatic efforts to encourage Iran to fulfil its responsibilities under Security Council resolutions have so far failed to yield a resolution of ongoing concerns over certain of its nuclear activities."

Speaking on behalf of the European Union, Jacek Bylica, Principal Adviser and Special Envoy for Non-proliferation and Disarmament, said the EU was "deeply concerned" about Iran's nuclear program.  He said: "In the case of Iran, the EU remains deeply concerned about its nuclear programme and continues to be engaged in renewed efforts aimed at finding a negotiated solution." 

And addressing concerns of DPRK's nuclear ambitions, he said:  "The EU strongly urges the DPRK to abandon all its existing nuclear and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner. We strongly condemn the DPRK's aggressive rhetoric, including repeated threats of the use of force."

The Geneva preparatory committee meeting will focus on a range of issues for the next two weeks to prepare the agenda for the 2015 Review Conference which will take place in Geneva.  The official nuclear weapon states— the United States, Russia, Britain, France, and China who are known as P5 - are required to implement measures under the treaty to "cessation" of the nuclear arms race, and complete nuclear "disarmament".
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Boston investigation: Interpol hails public-police cooperation

Dzhokar Tsarnaev
[PHOTO: Interpol] 
Lyon: INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble has commended the swift resolution of the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings as ‘a credit’ to the successful and effective investigative work involving the FBI, state and local US law enforcement authorities as well as exceptional cooperation from the public.

The INTERPOL Chief said the ‘extraordinary investigation’ which led to the identification and location of the two suspects just days after last week’s murderous terror attacks in which three people were killed, including an eight-year-old boy, a young American woman and a young Chinese woman, and more than 170 others injured, was ‘exemplary’.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, identified by the FBI as ‘suspect two’ was taken into custody on Friday evening after a 22-hour manhunt which began following a shoot-out with law enforcement officers late on Thursday night in which his brother, ‘suspect one’ 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was fatally injured.

“The professional, thorough and coordinated investigations by federal, state and local law enforcement authorities, and the courageous actions of the officers on the ground, mean that these two terrorists no longer pose what was clearly a significant threat to both the Boston community and international visitors,” said INTERPOL's Chief.

Secretary General Noble also deplored the cold-blooded murder of 26-year-old Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, who was shot multiple times by the then fugitive terrorists while in his car on Thursday evening.

“The continued dedication of law enforcement officers to tracking down these suspects despite the obvious dangers to themselves is a reminder of the sacrifices and risks police officers take on a daily basis to keep members of their community safe.

“On behalf of the international enforcement community, INTERPOL extends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of all those killed and injured in Monday’s bombings and during the conclusion of the investigation into those vicious attacks,” concluded Secretary General Noble.

Since last week’s bombings, INTERPOL’s Command and Coordination Centre has been in close contact with INTERPOL Washington, with all messages and information requests treated with the highest priority.

At the request of US authorities, INTERPOL published an Orange Notice, or international security alert detailing the two improvised explosive devices and information about the two suspects including their fingerprints and identity documents.

The INTERPOL Chief has pledged the Organization’s continued and full support for any further requests for assistance from the US or any involved country.
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NASA sends 'smartphones' into space

NASA's PhoneSat project has won Popular Science's 2012 Best of What's New Award for innovation in aerospace. PhoneSat will demonstrate the ability to launch one of the lowest-cost, easiest-to-build satellites ever flown in space -- capabilities enabled by using off-the-shelf consumer smartphones.
Washington: Three smartphones destined to become low-cost satellites rode to space Sunday aboard the maiden flight of Orbital Science Corp.'s Antares rocket from NASA's Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia.

The trio of "PhoneSats" is operating in orbit, and may prove to be the lowest-cost satellites ever flown in space. The goal of NASA's PhoneSat mission is to determine whether a consumer-grade smartphone can be used as the main flight avionics of a capable, yet very inexpensive, satellite.

Transmissions from all three PhoneSats have been received at multiple ground stations on Earth, indicating they are operating normally. The PhoneSat team at the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., will continue to monitor the satellites in the coming days. The satellites are expected to remain in orbit for as long as two weeks.

"It's always great to see a space technology mission make it to orbit -- the high frontier is the ultimate testing ground for new and innovative space technologies of the future," said Michael Gazarik, NASA's associate administrator for space technology in Washington.

"Smartphones offer a wealth of potential capabilities for flying small, low-cost, powerful satellites for atmospheric or Earth science, communications, or other space-born applications. They also may open space to a whole new generation of commercial, academic and citizen-space users."

Satellites consisting mainly of the smartphones will send information about their health via radio back to Earth in an effort to demonstrate they can work as satellites in space. The spacecraft also will attempt to take pictures of Earth using their cameras. Amateur radio operators around the world can participate in the mission by monitoring transmissions and retrieving image data from the three satellites. Large images will be transmitted in small chunks and will be reconstructed through a distributed ground station network.
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ADB assistance tops $21.5bn

ADB Headquarters in Manila
[PHOTO: ©Eugene Alvin Villar, 2007] 
Manila: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved $21.57 billion in financing operations including cofinancing last year, according to ADB’s 2012 Annual Report, released ahead of its 46th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors to be held 2–5 May in Delhi, India.

Poverty reduction in Asia remains “an unfinished agenda” despite the region’s strong record of economic growth, the report notes.

In 2012, operations were concentrated in five core areas: infrastructure, environment, regional cooperation and integration, finance sector development, and education. ADB continued to focus on its three key development agendas of inclusive growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration.

A special focus on regional integration highlights ADB’s work to forge closer links between countries across the region, including the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund; a new five-year strategy for the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) program; cross-border partnerships between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Mongolia and PRC and Viet Nam; accelerated cooperation in South Asia; and a new generation of planned projects for the second decade of cooperation in the Greater Mekong Subregion.

Other notable achievements in 2012 include: $825 million in funding for India’s power transmission systems; record replenishment of Asian Development Fund of $12.4 billion to help Asia’s poorest; the first-ever loans for road network upgrades in Timor-Leste; a $625 million equity investment in the innovative Philippines Infrastructure Fund; a new public-private partnership plan; a new Interim Country Partnership Strategy for Myanmar; and ADB’s first Supply Chain Finance Program to help the region’s small businesses access capital to help them grow.

ADB also continued to improve operational efficiency and development effectiveness in 2012.
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