Russia sends Belarus a number of tactical missile systems

Revelations 6:3-4 “when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • Russia to place nuclear-capable missiles in Belarus
  • That missile placement would continue a trend of Russian President Vladimir Putin subordinating Belarus to his vision of a “union-state” led by the Kremlin while sending an ominous signal to NATO — perhaps especially Poland and Lithuania, whose borders separate Belarus from Kaliningrad, the Russian exclave near the Baltic Sea.
  • “Our decision has been made: We will hand over a number of tactical missile systems Iskander-M to Belarus within the next few months,” Putin said during a meeting with Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko. “They can fire ballistic and cruise missiles with conventional and nuclear warheads.”

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Experts and satellite images show Iran rocket launch could be any moment

Revelations 6:3-4 “when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • Satellite Images Suggest Iran Preparing for Rocket Launch
  • One set of images showed a rocket on a transporter, preparing to be lifted and put on a launch tower. A later image Tuesday afternoon showed the rocket apparently on the tower.
  • Iran did not acknowledge a forthcoming launch at the spaceport and its mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
  • However, its state-run IRNA news agency in May said that Iran likely would have seven homemade satellites ready for launch by the end of the Persian calendar year in March 2023. A Defense Ministry official also recently suggested Iran soon could test its new solid-fueled, satellite-carrying rocket called the Zuljanah
  • A Pentagon spokesman, U.S. Army Maj. Rob Lodewick, said the American military “will continue to closely monitor Iran’s pursuit of viable space launch technology and how it may relate to advancements in its overall ballistic missile program.”

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Taiwan patience grows thin as it warns China of Missile that can strike strategic targets

Revelations 6:3-4 “when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • Taiwan Official Warns Supersonic Cruise Missile Can Strike Beijing
  • As China’s hostility intensifies, a top Taiwanese official warns that the Yun Feng supersonic cruise missile can reach out and touch Beijing.
  • You Si Kun, President of Taiwan’s Legislative Assembly, or Yuan, gave a speech on Taiwan Overseas Network where he declared that the country’s domestically produced Yun Feng supersonic cruise missile is capable of reaching Beijing.
  • The message follows ominous warnings made by Chinese military officials directly to their U.S. counterparts to avoid the Taiwan Strait, claiming it is not international waters.
  • However, the United States, along with the vast majority of the international community, does not accept China’s claims in this regard.
  • A report from Taiwan News. “The weapon is believed to be able to attack strategic targets including airports, harbors, and command bases located in central China.”

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After a Quiet Month N.K. Said to Have Launched Another Missile

Matthew 24:6 “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.”

Important Takeaways:

  • North Korea Fires Unidentified Projectile, South Korean Media Report
  • North Korea launched early on Sunday an “unidentified projectile eastward” after a month of silence, Yonhap reported
  • The projectile fell beyond Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone, according to Kyodo.
  • If the information about the launch is confirmed, this will be Pyongyang’s eighth missile test since the beginning of the year
  • On 31 January, North Korea confirmed that it had successfully tested the day before a medium-range ballistic missile that traveled about 800 kilometers at a maximum height of 2000 meters.
  • On 5 and 11 January, North Korea tested missiles that Pyongyang claimed were hypersonic.
  • On 14 January, two short-range ballistic missiles were launched from a rail-based missile system and three days later, North Korea tested two short-range tactical guided missiles.
  • Cruise missiles and a tactical surface-to-surface guided missile were tested on 25 and 27 January respectively.

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N.K. launches yet another missile in a more powerful launch

Matthew 24:6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.

Important Takeaways:

  • North Korea conducts most powerful missile test since 2017: Weapon reaches altitude of 1,200 miles and travels 500 miles before landing in sea off Japan in country’s seventh launch this month
  • Unusually fast pace of tests indicates its intent to pressure Biden administration
  • Mr. Moon said the situation around the Korean Peninsula is beginning to resemble 2017, when North Korea’s provocative run in nuclear and long-range missile testing resulted in a verbal exchange of war
  • Mr. Moon described the North’s latest tests as a violation of UN Security Council resolutions
  • Experts say the North could halt its testing spree after the start of the Beijing Winter Olympics next week out of respect for China, its major ally and economic lifeline.

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Another Missile Launch from North Korea

Matthew 24:6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.

Important Takeaways:

  • North Korea Fires Unidentified Projectile, Report Suggests
  • According to the Yonhap news agency, citing the South Korean military, Pyongyang fired an unidentified projectile
  • The projectile was launched off the east coast of North Korea toward the Sea of Japan.
  • The Japanese Border Guard has suggested the projectile could be a ballistic missile.
  • The coast guard also issued a warning urging vessels currently at sea to be careful and stay away from the object if it falls into the water.

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Recording shows Iran knew immediately it had shot down plane: Zelenskiy

By Natalia Zinets and Babak Dehghanpisheh

KIEV/DUBAI (Reuters) – A leaked audio recording of an Iranian pilot talking to the control tower in Tehran shows that Iran knew immediately it had shot down a Ukrainian airliner last month, despite denying it for days, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said.

On the recording, played on a Ukrainian television station late on Sunday, the pilot of another plane can be heard saying he saw “the light of a missile” in the sky before Ukrainian International Airways flight 752 crashed in an explosion.

Tehran blamed the Ukrainian authorities for leaking what it described as confidential evidence, and said it would no longer share material with Ukraine from the investigation into the crash.

All 176 people aboard the flight were killed when the plane crashed shortly after takeoff en route from Tehran to Kiev on Jan. 8.

The leaked audio “proves that the Iranian side knew from the start that our plane had been hit by a missile,” Zelenskiy said in a television interview.

“He says that ‘it seems to me that a missile is flying’, he says it in both Persian and English, everything is fixed there,” Zelenskiy said.

After denying blame for three days, Iran acknowledged shooting the plane down, saying it had done so by mistake while under high alert, hours after it had fired at U.S. targets in retaliation for a U.S. strike that killed an Iranian general.

Iran has said it worked as quickly as possible to determine what happened to the plane. The Iranian commander who first acknowledged the plane had been shot down said he informed the authorities on the day of the crash.

Iran has faced pressure from Ukraine and other countries whose citizens were on board the flight to send evidence abroad for international investigations.

The Iranian official in charge of accident investigations at Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization called it a “strange move” by Ukraine to release the confidential recording.

“This action by the Ukrainians led to us not sharing any more evidence with them,” the official, Hassan Rezaifar said, according to the semi-official Mehr news agency.

In the recording, a pilot for Aseman, an Iranian airline, can be heard radioing the control tower that he has seen what he believes is a missile.

“Is this an active area? There’s lights like a missile. Is there anything?” the pilot says.

“Nothing has been reported to us. What’s the light like?” the controller replies. The pilot says: “It’s the light of a missile.”

The control tower can be heard trying and failing to raise the Ukrainian airliner on the radio. The pilot of the Iranian plane then says he has seen “an explosion. In a very big way, we saw it. I really don’t know what it was.”

Ukraine International Airways said in a statement the recording provided “yet more proof that the UIA airplane was shot down with a missile, and there were no restrictions or warnings from dispatchers of any risk to flights of civilian aircraft in the vicinity of the airport.”

Rezaifar, the Iranian aviation official, said in the Mehr report that the Ukraine investigation team, as well as all other foreigners involved in the investigation, have left Iran.

(Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh, Natlia Zinets and Pavel Polityuk; Writing by Peter Graff, Editing by William Maclean)

Iran investigation says airliner caught fire before crash, Ukraine outlines theories

By Alexander Cornwell, Babak Dehghanpisheh and Natalia Zinets

DUBAI/KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine outlined four potential scenarios on Thursday to explain the deadly crash of one of its airliners in Iran, including a missile strike and terrorism, as Iranian investigators said the plane was on fire before it fell to the ground.

Kiev said its investigators wanted to search the site of Wednesday’s crash southwest of Tehran for possible debris of a Russian-made missile used by Iran’s military. An initial report by Iran’s civil aviation organization said the plane had experienced an unspecified technical problem.

The Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737-800, flying to Kiev and carrying mostly Iranians and Iranian-Canadians, crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport, killing all 176 people on board.

The Iranian report cited witnesses on the ground and in a passing aircraft flying at a high altitude as saying the plane was on fire while in the air.

It said the three-year-old airliner, which had its last scheduled maintenance on Monday, encountered a technical problem shortly after take-off and started to head toward a nearby airport before it crashed. The report said there was no radio communication from the pilot and that the aircraft disappeared from radar at 8,000 feet (2,440 m).

It is so far unclear if any technical issue could be related to a maintenance fault or defective part.

The disaster puts a renewed spotlight on Boeing, which faces a safety crisis over a different type of 737, though the plane that crashed in Iran does not have the feature thought to have caused crashes of the grounded 737 MAX.

The Iranian report referred to the crash as an accident.

Investigations into airliner crashes are complex, requiring regulators, experts and companies across several international jurisdictions to work together. It can take months to fully determine the cause and issuing an initial report within 24 hours is rare.

A Canadian security source told Reuters there was evidence one of the engines had overheated.

The crash happened hours after Iran launched missile attacks on U.S.-led forces in Iraq, leading some to speculate that the plane may have been hit.

The initial assessment of Western intelligence agencies was that the plane had suffered a technical malfunction and had not been brought down by a missile, five security sources – three Americans, one European and the Canadian – who asked not to be named, told Reuters.

UKRAINIAN THEORIES

Ukraine Security Council Secretary Oleksiy Danylov said the country’s investigators wanted to search for possible Russian missile debris after seeing information on the internet.

He referred to an unverified image circulated on Iranian social media purportedly showing the debris of a Russian-made Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile of the kind used by the Iranian military.

Ukrainian investigators into the crash include experts who participated in the investigation into the 2014 shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, Danylov said.

The Malaysian airliner was shot down on July 17, 2014, over territory held by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine as it was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 people on board.

In a televised statement, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy earlier asked people to refrain from speculation, conspiracy theories and hasty evaluations regarding the crash. He declared Thursday a day of national mourning.

Zelenskiy said he would speak by telephone with the Iranian president to step up cooperation in investigating the crash.

Ukraine is looking at various possible causes, including a missile attack, a collision, an engine explosion or terrorism.

Countries recognized under a UN-administered convention as participants should nominate who they wish to be involved in the Iran-led investigation, the Iranian report said.

Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne called his Iranian counterpart to stress the need for Canadian officials “to be quickly granted access to Iran to provide consular services, help with identification of the deceased and take part in the investigation of the crash”, a Canadian statement said.

“Canada and Canadians have many questions which will need to be answered.”

Zelenskiy, in a phone call with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, invited Britain to join the investigation, Zelenskiy’s office said.

“Boris Johnson supported this idea and stressed that the best British experts should be involved in finding out all the circumstances of the tragedy,” it said.

As the country where the plane was designed and built, the United States would usually be allowed to be accredited but neither side has said whether U.S. investigators will be dispatched to Iran.

Iran’s aviation body could not be reached for comment to clarify its position.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have risen with the United States’ killing of a top Iranian general on Friday. Tehran retaliated with a missile strike on U.S. targets in Iraq.

The Ukrainian airliner took off at 6:12 a.m. local time and was given permission to climb to 26,000 feet, the report said. It crashed six minutes later near the town of Sabashahr.

Bodies and body parts recovered from the site of the crash have been taken to the coroner’s office for identification, the report said.

Smouldering debris, including shoes and clothes, was strewn across a field where the plane crashed on Wednesday. Rescue workers in face masks laid out scores of body bags.

Onboard were 146 Iranians, 10 Afghans, 11 Ukrainians, five Canadians and four Swedes, the report said, but said some may have held citizenship of other countries.

Ukrainian authorities have said those on board included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, and 11 Ukrainians.

The Tehran-Toronto via Kiev route was a popular for Canadians of Iranian descent visiting Iran in the absence of direct flights.

(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell & Babak Dehghanpisheh in Dubai, Natalia Zinets & Pavel Polityuk in Kiev; Additional reporting by Tim Hepher in Paris, Jamie Freed in Sydney, Allison Lampert in Montreal, Steve Scherer in Ottawa, Laurence Frost in Paris, Matthias Williams in Kiev, Mark Hosenball in Washington and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Writing by Alexander Cornwell, Editing by Angus MacSwan, Catherine Evans and Nick Macfie)

Investigators identify Russian military unit in downing of flight MH17

Dutch police officer Wilbert Paulissen, head of the National Crime Squad, is pictured next to a damaged missile as he presents interim results in the ongoing investigation of the 2014 MH17 crash that killed 298 people over eastern Ukraine, during a news conference by members of the Joint Investigation Team, comprising the authorities from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine, in Bunnik, Netherlands, May 24, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

By Anthony Deutsch

BUNNIK, Netherlands (Reuters) – Dutch prosecutors identified a Russian military unit on Thursday as the source of the missile that shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing all 296 people on board.

The airliner flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was hit by a Russian-made “Buk” anti-aircraft missile on July 17, 2014 over territory held by pro-Russian separatists. There were no survivors. Two thirds of those killed were Dutch.

“The Buk that was used came from the Russian army, the 53rd brigade,” Chief Dutch Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke told Reuters. “We know that was used, but the people in charge of this Buk, we don’t know.”

Investigators appealed to the public to come forward and help identify members of the crew who operated the missile and determine how high up the chain of command the order originated.

FILE PHOTO: The reconstructed wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 which crashed over Ukraine in July 2014 is seen in Gilze Rijen, Netherlands, October 13, 2015. REUTERS/Michael Kooren/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: The reconstructed wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 which crashed over Ukraine in July 2014 is seen in Gilze Rijen, Netherlands, October 13, 2015. REUTERS/Michael Kooren/File Photo

“The Russian Federation didn’t help us in providing us the information we brought out into the open today,” Westerbeke said. “They didn’t give us this information, although a Buk from their military forces was used.”

Russia repeated on Thursday that it had nothing to do with the incident.

“Not a single air defense missile launcher of the Russian Armed Forces has ever crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border,” Russia’s TASS news agency quoted the Defense Ministry as saying in a statement.

Prosecutors showed photos and videos of a truck convoy carrying the system as it crossed the border from Russia to Ukraine. It crossed back several days later with one missile missing. The vehicles had serial numbers and other markings that were unique to the 53rd brigade, an anti-aircraft unit based in the western Russian city of Kursk, they said.

In the interim update on their investigation, prosecutors said they had trimmed their list of possible suspects from more than a hundred to several dozen.

Westerbeke said investigators were not yet ready to identify individual suspects publicly or to issue indictments, but that when they do he expects cooperation, or a firm international political response.

Numbers are seen on a damaged missile displayed during a news conference by members of the Joint Investigation Team, comprising the authorities from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine who present interim results in the ongoing investigation of the 2014 MH17 crash that killed 298 people over eastern Ukraine, in Bunnik, Netherlands, May 24, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Numbers are seen on a damaged missile displayed during a news conference by members of the Joint Investigation Team, comprising the authorities from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine who present interim results in the ongoing investigation of the 2014 MH17 crash that killed 298 people over eastern Ukraine, in Bunnik, Netherlands, May 24, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

HOLD RUSSIA ACCOUNTABLE

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte cut short a trip to India to return in time for a cabinet meeting on Friday to discuss the latest findings in the inquiry.

The MH17 Disaster Foundation representing families of the victims demanded that the Dutch government take legal action to hold the Russian state accountable.

“It must go beyond legal exploration after this,” board member Piet Ploeg was quoted by the NOS broadcaster as saying.

A Joint Investigation Team, drawn from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine, is gathering evidence for a criminal prosecution in the downing of the plane.

Ukrainian Army General Vasyl Hrytsak, a member of the investigation team, told Reuters the next crucial step would be to pinpoint who issued the orders to move the missile system.

The Dutch Safety Board concluded in an October 2015 report that the Boeing 777 was struck by a Russian-made Buk missile.

(Additional reporting by Bart Meijer and Toby Sterling in Amsterdam and Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber in Moscow; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Peter Graff)

Days after Hawaii alert gaffe, Japan issues false alarm about a missile launch

Japan's public broadcaster NHK's false alarm about a North Korean missile launch which was received on a smart phone is pictured in Tokyo, Japan January 16, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese public broadcaster NHK issued a false alarm about a North Korean missile launch on Tuesday, just days after a similar gaffe caused panic in Hawaii, but it managed to correct the error within minutes.

It was not immediately clear what triggered the mistake.

“We are still checking,” an NHK spokesman said.

NHK’s 6.55 p.m. alert said: “North Korea appears to have launched a missile … The government urges people to take shelter inside buildings or underground.”

The same alert was sent to mobile phone users of NHK’s online news distribution service.

In five minutes, the broadcaster put out another message correcting itself.

Regional tension soared after North Korea in September conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test and in November said it had successfully tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach all of the U.S. mainland. It regularly threatens to destroy Japan and the United States.

There were no immediate reports of panic or other disruption following the Japanese report.

Human error and a lack of fail-safe measures during a civil defense warning drill led to the false missile alert that stirred panic across Hawaii, a state emergency management agency spokesman said.

Elaborating on the origins of Saturday’s false alarm, which went uncorrected for nearly 40 minutes, spokesman Richard Rapoza said the employee who mistakenly sent the missile alert had been “temporarily reassigned” to other duties.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Nick Macfie)