Russia


WASHINGTON — Cyberspies have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, according to current and former national-security officials.

The spies came from China, Russia and other countries, these officials said, and were believed to be on a mission to navigate the U.S. electrical system and its controls. The intruders haven’t sought to damage the power grid or other key infrastructure, but officials warned they could try during a crisis or war.

“The Chinese have attempted to map our infrastructure, such as the electrical grid,” said a senior intelligence official. “So have the Russians.”

The espionage appeared pervasive across the U.S. and doesn’t target a particular company or region, said a former Department of Homeland Security official. “There are intrusions, and they are growing,” the former official said, referring to electrical systems. “There were a lot last year.”

Via Wall Street Journal.  Seems like an awful lot of time and money invested in disrupting our electrical supply when we are more than capable of doing that ourselves.  On a regular basis.

WASHINGTON — The United States lost a long battle when Russia, as it announced on Monday, delivered nuclear fuel to an Iranian power plant that is at the center of an international dispute over its nuclear program. Iran, for its part, confirmed on Monday plans to build a second such plant.

In announcing that it had delivered the first fuel shipment to the power plant, at Bushehr in southern Iran, on Sunday, Russian officials said that while the fuel was in Iran, it would be under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear monitoring agency for the United Nations. Russia also said the Iranian government had guaranteed that the fuel would be used only for the power plant.

The Bush administration took pains not to criticize the Russian move publicly, even expressing support for outside supplies if that led Iran to suspend its nuclear enrichment program.

“If the Russians are willing to do that, which I support, then the Iranians do not need to learn how to enrich,” President Bush said Monday. “If the Iranians accept that uranium for a civilian nuclear power plant, then there’s no need for them to learn how to enrich.”

But from the American standpoint, the timing could not have been worse, coming just two weeks after the release of a United States intelligence estimate that concluded that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003. The National Intelligence Estimate also concluded that Iran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007, undercutting a central tenet of the Bush administration’s basis for maintaining international pressure against Iran.

Full article here.

The Jerusalem Post reports:

Iran tested a newly-developed ballistic missile on the day of the Annapolis conference, Channel 10 reported Wednesday.

The Ashoura missile has a range of 2,000 kilometers and is capable of reaching Israel, US Army bases in the Middle East and eastern European cities.

According to the report, the new missile is an improvement to the existing Shihab-3 missile. The Ashoura uses solid fuel instead of the Shihab’s liquid fuel, giving it a significantly faster launch sequence which is harder to detect.

Iranian Defense Minister Gen. Mostafa Muhammad-Najjar had announced the development of the new missile on the day of the summit, but had not specified whether it had actually been tested.

According to the country’s IRNA news agency, Najjar said the missile was named the “Ashoura,” meaning “the tenth day” in Farsi – a sacred reference among Shi’ite Muslims to the martyrdom of the third imam.

The Iranian defense minister said that “the production of the new missile was one of the Defense Ministry’s greatest achievements.”

Analysts believe much of Iran’s military production has benefited from assistance from Russia, China and other countries, but many of their weapons development claims have not been independently verified.

Recent weapons development has been motivated by Iran’s standoff with the US over its controversial nuclear program.

The Shihab-3, which means “shooting star” in Farsi, has a range of at least 1,300 kilometers.

In 2005, Iranian officials said they had improved the range of the Shihab-3 to 2,000 kilometers, a range equal to that of the new missile reported Wednesday.

Experts also believe Iran is developing the Shihab-4 missile, thought to have a range between 2,000 and 3,000 kilometers that would put much of Europe in range.

Well, that’s one way of expressing your displeasure about being left off of the tea party invite list …

NIZHNY NOVGOROD, November 13 (RIA Novosti) – Cult followers in central Russia’s Penza Region have dug a shelter, stocked it with food and are waiting for the apocalypse, which they say is due in May 2008, a local prosecutor said on Tuesday.

A total of 29 sect members, including four children, of the so-called True Russian Orthodox church have moved into the shelter, which contains underground wells, a kitchen, monastic cells and other facilities. They wrote a letter to local authorities saying they had gone underground of their own free will.

“The inhabitants of the underground shelter have threatened to set themselves on fire if forced out,” Alevtina Volchkova said, adding that a criminal investigation has been launched against the sect leader, who calls himself Father Pyotr.

He is likely to undergo a psychiatric examination and will face up to three years in prison if found guilty of infringement of his followers’ rights. The prosecutor also said all the cult members are from other Russian regions or former Soviet countries, and some have breached Russian laws.

Full article here.

Sometimes, when you’re cranky, and your approval ratings are in the dumpster, the words just tumble out of your mouth:

WASHINGTON – President Bush warned on Wednesday a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to World War III as he tried to shore up international opposition to Tehran amid Russian skepticism over its nuclear ambitions.

Bush was speaking a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin who has resisted Western pressure to toughen his stance over Iran’s nuclear program, made clear on a visit to Tehran that Russia would not accept any military action against Iran.

Full article here.

Better to be cranky at a press conference than in a meeting with the Joint Chiefs.

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, today warned the US not to use force against Iran in the current nuclear dispute.

Any military intervention in the Caspian Sea area would be unacceptable, Mr Putin declared as he attended a five-country regional summit in Tehran.

“We should not even think of making use of force in this region,” Mr Putin told his fellow leaders.

His remarks also appeared directed at Azerbaijan, amid Russian media speculation that the US might be trying to negotiate with the republic on the right to use military facilities there, something Azeri officials deny.

Full article here.

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