|Asia News Digest
Indian Scientists Oppose Nuclear Deal with U.S.
India's nuclear scientists made official their opposition to the U.S.-India nuclear deal, citing the U.S. legislation's infringement on India's nuclear research and development. In a joint statement signed by eminent scientists and nuclear program pioneers of India, they said: "India should continue to hold onto her nuclear option as a strategic requirement in the real world that we live in, and in the ever-changing complexity of the international political system."
They urged the members of Parliament to "discuss the deal and arrive at an unanimous decision, recognizing the fundamental facts of India's indigenous nuclear science and technology achievements to date, the efforts made to overcome the unfair restrictions placed on us and the imaginative policies and planning enunciated and followed in the years after independence.
"We find that the Indo-U.S. deal, in the form approved by the U.S. House of Representatives, infringes on our independence for carrying out indigenous research and development in nuclear science and technology. Our R&D cannot be hampered by external supervision or control, or by the need to satisfy any international body," the statement said.
Pakistani Envoy Escapes Assassination Attempt
The Pakistani envoy to Sri Lanka, Bashir Wali Mohammad, escaped an assassination attempt by the Tamil Tigers in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo. The bomb, concealed in an auto-rickshaw, went off seconds after the envoy's car passed, but a security car with Sri Lankan commandos accompanying him took the full brunt of the blast, killing four of the security personnel and three civilians, while wounding 17 others,
It is not clear why the Pakistani envoy was targetted. One possible reason is that Pakistan is a key supplier of weapons to Sri Lanka in its battle against the Tamil Tigers.
The Colombo bombing took place five hours after four Sri Lankan Kfir jets (Israel-supplied) dropped 16 bombs on the compound of Chencholar, an orphanage that the Tamil Tigers run at Vallipunam, killing 61 schoolgirls and wounding 129 others.
"The situation is very, very bad," an informed source told the New Kerala Online Aug. 14. "If the two parties do not pull back immediately, there will be catastrophe." Another source told the online news service that the orphanage bombing would be construed as breaching the threshold of tolerance in an armed conflict.
India Scales Up Its Power Requirements
Highlighting the findings of the Energy Coordination Committee he heads, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, "Electricity generation capacity would need to go up from our current installed capacity of 131,000 MW to between 800,000 to 900,000 MW," by 2030.
To help India meet its gigantic future energy requirements, Manmohan Singh said there is a need to develop public-private partnerships in ways and means to meet the estimated $1.2 trillion investment required over next 25 years to provide electricity to consumers at an affordable price. That number translates to an investment of about $45 billion every year for 25 years.
The impact of the widening shortfall in power generation, he pointed out, was being felt more in rural areas which have not received adequate attention. To meet the target of providing electricity in all villages by 2009 (25,000 villages in India reportedly do not have electricity today), the Prime Minister said more focus would be given on decentralized distributed generation options.
Indian Oil Companies To Explore Ecuador for Oil and Gas
Hydrocarbon-rich Ecuador has signed two agreements with India whereby the Indian companies will be involved in exploration and production of oil and gas in Ecuador, Zee News reported from New Delhi Aug. 14. The agreement was signed by the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma and Ecuador Foreign Minister Francisco Carrio Mena in New Delhi. Subsequently, Mena also met with India's Petroleum Minister Murli Deora.
This is the first involvement of the Indians in the oil and gas fields in Ecuador.
Record Afghan Opium Crop Five Years After Taliban Defeated
The Anglo-American "pro-democracy" forces have hit another landmark. Under their occupation and watch, Afghanistan's opium production has jumped up another notch, AP reported from Kabul Aug. 17. A Western anti-narcotics official in Kabul said about 370,000 acres of opium poppy was cultivated this seasonup from 257,000 in 2005. The previous record was 323,700 acres in 2004. Last year, the UN reported, Afghanistan produced 4,500 tons of opium. Although no one has estimated what the opium production this year would be, an educated guess is that it should be over 6,000 tons, enough to produce 600 tons of heroin. The previous record production was 5,200 tons of opium resin.
Opium cultivation has surged under the U.S.-British watch, since the ouster of the Taliban in 2001. The former regime enforced an effective ban on poppy growing by threatening to jail farmers, virtually eradicating the crop in 2005. In 2006, the Bush-Blair combo spent hundreds of millions of dollars to reduce opium production. The result was that opium production broke all previous records.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai told Fortune magazine in a recent interview that "lots of people" in his administration profited from the narcotics trade.