Category: International

Russia Implies Americans Sabotaged International Space Station

Russian investigators looking into the origin of a hole that caused an oxygen leak on the International Space Station have said it was caused deliberately, the space agency chief said.

A first commission had delivered its report, Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Russian space agency Roskosmos, said in televised remarks late Monday.

“It concluded that a manufacturing defect had been ruled out which is important to establish the truth.”

Rogozin said the commission’s main line of inquiry was that the hole had been drilled deliberately, a position that has been voiced in the past.

“Where it was made will be established by a second commission, which is at work now,” he said.

The small hole in the wall of a Russian-made Soyuz space capsule docked onto the ISS was located in August and quickly sealed up.

Officials have suggested a number of possible reasons for the appearance of the hole.

A top government official has denied a Russian media report that the investigation looked at the possibility that US astronauts had drilled the hole in order to get a sick colleague sent back to Earth.

The current ISS commander, US astronaut Drew Feustel, called the suggestion that the crew was somehow involved “embarrassing”.

Rogozin — who previously oversaw the Russian space industry as deputy prime minister — was appointed head of Roskosmos last May, in a move analysts said would spell trouble for the embattled sector.

The official, who was placed under US sanctions over the Ukraine crisis in 2014, admitted it had become difficult to work with NASA.

“Problems with NASA have certainly appeared but not through the fault of NASA,” he said, blaming unnamed American officials for telling the US space agency what to do.

He also claimed that SpaceX founder Elon Musk sought to squeeze Russia out of the space launch services market and complained about the US military drone X-37.

“Americans have this thing, the X-37,” Rogozin said. “We don’t understand its purposes. Rather, we do understand, but we have not received an official explanation.

“Essentially, this thing can be used as a weapons carrier.”

What this has to do with the investigation into a hole in the ISS is unknown, and the question remains: Could anyone take a drill to the ISS, a small contained environment with less internal area than many houses, with external cameras, and go unnoticed?

NASA representatives assure us that space walks are all carefully monitored in real time to assure astronaut safety.

The Sentinel believes that if the hole was drilled deliberately, the mostly likely explanation is that it must have been done before the capsule left  Earth. That means Russia.

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President Trump Presides Over United Nations Meeting

President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused Iran of spreading chaos and China of meddling in US elections at a UN Security Council meeting that laid bare divisions between the United States and other world powers.

Presiding for the first time a meeting of the United Nations’ most powerful body, Trump denounced the “horrible, one-sided” nuclear deal with Iran that he ditched in May, to the dismay of European allies.

A gavel-wielding Trump took a swipe at China, accusing Beijing of working against his Republican Party in upcoming midterm elections as payback for their growing trade war, a charge China’s foreign minister said was “unwarranted.”

Wednesday’s meeting highlighted a rift between the United States and its European allies over the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump vowed that re-imposed sanctions will be “in full force” and urged world powers to work with the United States to “ensure the Iranian regime changes its behavior and never acquires a nuclear bomb.”

Addressing the council after Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron hit back, declaring that concerns about Iran cannot be tackled with “a policy of sanctions and containment.”

Also defending the deal that was endorsed in a Security Council resolution, British Prime Minister Teresa May said it “remains the best means of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.”

The United States has moved to reimpose sanctions that had been lifted under the 2015 deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program and has vowed to punish foreign firms that do business with Iran.

Trump argued that since the deal was signed in 2015, “Iran’s aggression only increased” and that funds released from the lifting of sanctions had been used “to support terrorism, build nuclear capable missiles and foment chaos.”

Iran did not request to speak at the council meeting, but Iranian President Hassan Rohani told a news conference that the United States would eventually rejoin the nuclear deal and pledged Tehran’s continued commitment to the accord.

“The United States of America one day, sooner or later, will come back. This cannot be continued,” Rouhani said.

Turning to Syria, Trump assailed Russia and Iran for backing President Bashar la-Assad in his brutal war in Syria, saying: “The Syrian regime’s butchery is enabled by Russia and Iran.”

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed that the “rights of all countries to trade with Iran should be respected” after the European Union said a special payment system would be set up to keep alive business ties with Iran.

-In a blunt attack on China, Trump told the council that China wanted to see him suffer an elections setback because of his hard line on trade.

“Regrettably we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election coming up in November against my administration,” he said.

“They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade.”

It remains possible that the Republicans could lose control of the Senate and/or House of Representatives in November’s elections, impacting President Trump’s chances of chalking up legislative achievements.

The Chinese foreign minister responded flatly that Beijing strictly adhered to a policy of non-interference.

“We did not and will not interfere in any country’s domestic affairs. We refuse to accept any unwarranted accusations against China,” said Wang.

Tensions have soared between Beijing and Washington after Trump this week slapped new tariffs covering $200 billion in Chinese goods exported to the United States.

On North Korea, Trump called for sanctions to be strictly enforced against Pyongyang — a message directed at Russia and China which are pushing for an easing of punitive measures to reward North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Without naming countries, the President noted that “some nations are already violating UN sanctions” including illegal ship-to-ship transfers of oil and said compliance was “very important.”

His comments came shortly before his top diplomat, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, signaled Wednesday that he would return to North Korea next month to push forward denuclearization talks.

It was only the third time in UN history that a US president chaired a Security Council meeting. Barack Obama presided over two meetings in 2009 and 2014.

China Refuses U. S. Warship Visit As Trade War Accelerates

China has pulled the plug on a US warship’s scheduled visit to Hong Kong, and scrapped plans for a top admiral to meet with his US counterpart in Washington, officials said Tuesday.

The moves come as trade tensions soar between Beijing and Washington, which this week enacted new tariffs against China covering another $200 billion of its imports.

The USS Wasp, an amphibious assault ship, was due to visit Hong Kong next month. Lieutenant Colonel David Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, said the Chinese had scrapped the visit.

“Thes Chinese government did not approve a request for a US port visit to Hong Kong by the USS Wasp,” Eastburn said.

“We have a long track record of successful port visits to Hong Kong, and we expect that will continue.”

China’s decision comes after Beijing recalled a top admiral who was visiting the US.

A US defense official told AFP that Vice Admiral Shen Jinlong, who commands the People’s Liberation Army Navy, attended a naval symposium in Rhode Island last week.

Following the event, he was planning a visit to Washington that would have included meetings at the Pentagon with his US counterpart, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson.

“We were informed that Vice Admiral Shen Jinlong has been recalled to China and won’t conduct a visit with Admiral Richardson,” Eastburn said.

Last week, Washington placed financial sanctions on the Equipment Development Department of the Chinese Defense Ministry, and its top administrator, for its recent purchase of Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 surface-to-air missile systems.

Beijing responded by summoning the US ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, to lodge an official protest, while the Chinese military expressed “strong indignation and resolute opposition” to the sanctions.

United in their resentment of America’s global influence, China and Russia have sought in recent years to tighten up their ties and this month conducted weeklong joint military drills in Moscow’s largest ever war games.

Further inflaming tensions, the US State Department said Monday it was set to approve a $330 million sale of military aviation parts to the self-governing island of Taiwan.

Beijing sees Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting unification, and is deeply suspicious of the island’s relations with the US.

China expressed “strong dissatisfaction” on Tuesday over the planned sale and urged Washington scrap the contract.

Beijing has been incensed by recent warming ties between Washington and Taipei, including the State Department’s approval of a preliminary license to sell submarine technology to the island.

Orbital Spin: Damage To The International Space Station Soyuz Reentry Craft Becomes Vehicle For Anti-American Propaganda

On August 30th, the International Space Station experienced an unexpected and much reported upon loss in pressure due to a puncture in the Soyuz reentry capsule attached to it.

The 2 millimeter hole was quickly found by cosmonauts and patched with multiple layers of a resin intended for this purpose.

Rumors in certain Russian news services erupted, claiming deliberate sabotage by American astronauts on board, usually citing unknown or anonymous sources.  Even major players in the Russian science community, such as the internationally recognized space news source Sputnik offered old Soviet style innuendo and misdirection intended to encourage distrust, even hostility, toward America.

Sputnik reported,  for example:

The situation around a hole in the fabric of a Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, docked to the International Space Station (ISS), is more complicated than it was expected, Dmitry Rogozin, the chief of the Russian space agency Roscosmos stated.

Dmitry Rogozin, the chief of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, confirmed that a commission of Russia’s Energia Rocket and Space Corporation had failed to determine the origin of the hole yet.

“The results that we have received fail to provide an objective image [of the situation] to us. Further work will be continued by a commission created by the [Roscosmos] corporation itself. The situation is far more difficult than we have expected,” Rogozin told reported.

Rogozin refused to comment on media reports alleging that US astronauts could have been responsible for the emergence of the hole on Soyuz.

A source told Sputnik on Thursday that an internal investigation, held by Energia, which is the spacecraft manufacturer, showed that the hole had been deliberately made by a drill bit. The company, however, failed to identify the perpetrators.”

In fact, Rogozin commented on his Facebook page that, “The recent gossip and rumors circulating about the incident at the ISS hinder the work of Roscosmos experts and are designed to subvert the friendly relations among the crew members of the space station.”

“All statements citing unnamed sources are inadmissible until Roscosmos special commission concludes its work,” the CEO stressed.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov said earlier in the day that it was inadmissible to accuse either Russian or American ISS crewmembers of the incident since “it is a unified crew with no political disagreements whatsoever.”

TASS,  the Russian News Agency, published an article seeming  seeking to mitigate the rumors, but then reinforced them, noting

Russia’s Kommersant daily reported on Tuesday citing its unnamed sources that the Roscosmos probe was considering, among other likely causes of the damage to Soyuz, deliberate actions by US astronauts, who in this way wished to speed up their return home.

According to the newspaper, the astronauts might have drilled the hole because one of the crew members was unwell. Urgent evacuation of all crewmembers would allow for getting full treatment, while the compartment where the hole was found would have burned down in the atmosphere. Roscosmos said it would refrain from making comments on the issue until the special probe reported its findings.

The Russian cosmonauts who repaired the damage, stopped the leak and averted a potential disaster merit recognition, international recognition and respect. Russia’s advances and contribution to both the ISS and science in general are significant and largely on par to ours or anyone’s at this stage.  Many, no most, of those accomplishments are largely unknown outside the scientific community, a fact which is unfortunate, unnecessary, and should be corrected.  However, such accomplishments are diminished when, in instances like this one, where after members of the Russian media often loudly accuse their American counterparts of ill-conceived political spin, they themselves jump blindly off the creditability cliff.

Pot, kettle and all of that.

TASS, Sputnik and the Russian media corps should consider the reputations of their admirable and praise worthy scientific community, and the sabotage they often do to it with such “reporting”.

American hands aren’t completely clean on this issue. Our press can be easily agitated and unapologetic when it makes mistakes, but come on, we’ve yet to accuse, however indirectly, Russian cosmonauts of deliberately endangering the lives of their fellow scientists, as well, it should be noted, as their own.

-The Sentinel

 

U. S. Intelligence Confirms: North Korea Dismantles Nuclear Testing Facility

Praising his “good relationship” with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, US President Donald Trump on Tuesday welcomed reports that Pyongyang has started dismantling a facility seen as a testing ground for intercontinental ballistic missiles.

New satellite imagery shows “that North Korea has begun the process of dismantling a key missile site, and we appreciate that,” Trump said at an event for military veterans in Kansas City, Missouri.

Hitting back at criticism that his June 12 summit with Kim in Singapore has so far yielded few concrete results, Trump suggested his newfound rapport with Kim was bearing fruit.

“We had a fantastic meeting with Chairman Kim and it seems to be going very well,” Trump said.

After the summit, Trump had declared the North Korean nuclear threat was effectively over, but some US media reports suggest he has been privately furious at the pace of subsequent progress on the denuclearization issue.

US-based website 38 North published imagery Monday indicating Pyongyang has begun taking down a processing building and a rocket-engine test stand that had been used to test liquid-fuel engines at its Sohae Satellite Launching Station.

Sohae, on the northwest coast of North Korea, is ostensibly a facility designed for putting satellites into orbit, but rocket engines are easily repurposed for use in missiles and the international community has labelled Pyongyang’s space program a fig leaf for weapons tests.

38 North analyst Joseph Bermudez called the move an “important first step” for Kim in fulfilling a promise Trump said the North Korean leader had made.

But some experts urged caution and one US defense official played down the news, saying the Sohae site was not a priority in terms of monitoring the North’s denuclearization efforts.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the imagery was “entirely consistent” with commitments Kim made to Trump during their summit in Singapore.

“We’ve been pressing for there to be inspectors on the ground when that engine test facility is dismantled, consistent with Chairman Kim’s commitment,” Pompeo said Tuesday at a news conference in California.

“They need to completely, fully denuclearize. That’s the steps that Chairman Kim committed to and that the world has demanded,” Pompeo added.

– ‘Good feeling’ –

On Tuesday, Trump told the Veterans of Foreign Wars group that he was hopeful the question of repatriating the remains of US troops killed during the Korean War would be addressed shortly.

The long-simmering topic was highlighted in a joint statement signed by Trump and Kim, with the US and North Korea committing to recovering remains, “including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.”

“At the very end of our meeting, I said to Chairman Kim — good relationship, good feeling — I said, ‘I would really appreciate if you could do that’,” Trump said.

“He said, ‘It will be done.'”

On June 20, Trump erroneously said 200 human remains had already “been sent back” from North Korea, but the issue is far from resolved and Pyongyang has already canceled at least one meeting to discuss the return of the remains.

We are “working to bring back the remains of your brothers-in-arms who gave their lives in Korea,” Trump said Tuesday.

“I hope that very soon these fallen warriors will begin coming home to lay at rest in American soil.”

In a sign of Washington’s impatience with what it sees as North Korean foot-dragging on the denuclearization issue, Pompeo was in New York last week urging UN member states to keep tough economic sanctions in place to pressure Kim into moving forward.

China and Russia have argued that North Korea should be rewarded with the prospect of eased sanctions for opening up dialogue with the United States and halting missile tests.

South Korea has also pushed ahead with its reconciliation with the North since a landmark inter-Korean summit in April.

Seoul’s defense ministry said Tuesday it was considering withdrawing some troops from the border Demilitarized Zone on a trial basis — a move which could expand into a gradual pullout.

The 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, leaving the two Koreas technically at war.

The DMZ was designated as a buffer zone, but the areas to the north and south of it are heavily fortified.

More than 35,000 Americans were killed on the Korean peninsula during the war, with 7,700 of these US troops still listed as missing in action — most of them in North Korea.