A FRIGHTENING WORLD
“It is Europe’s dirty secret that the list of nuclear-capable countries extends beyond those that have built their own weapons – Britain, France and Russia. The truth is that Belgium, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands store nuclear bombs on their air-force bases and have planes capable of delivering them. There are an estimated 200 B-61 thermonuclear-gravity bombs scattered across these four countries. Under a NATO agreement struck during the Cold War, the bombs, which are owned by the U.S., can be transferred to the control of a host nation’s air force in time of conflict. Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Dutch, Belgian, Italian and German pilots remain ready to engage in nuclear war” (TIME, 4 January).
THE OIL INVASION
“British companies have benefited from the award of oil contracts in Iraq because of the decision to help to overthrow Saddam Hussein, Gordon Brown’s chief foreign policy adviser told the Chilcot inquiry yesterday. Simon McDonald said British companies had “done pretty well” in a recent auction of oil rights and that Britain had “privileged access” to the Government of Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister” (Times, 6 January).
MERCHANTS OF DEATH
“Two UAE orders for military helicopters and guided bombs capped a remarkable year for procurement in which the Emirates became the largest foreign purchaser of US defence equipment, a Pentagon agency said. The UAE, which has peacekeepers in Afghanistan, awarded Sikorksy Aircraft a US$171 million (Dh628m) contract for 14 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, which are used for tactical transport. Separately, the US defence security co-operation agency, a unit of the Pentagon, said last week it had notified Congress of a potential sale of enhanced guided bomb units, parts, training and support to the UAE for about $290m. The same agency said in November that in the last fiscal year the UAE became the largest foreign purchaser of US defence equipment with sales of $7.9bn, ahead of Afghanistan ($5.4bn), Saudi Arabia ($3.3bn) and Taiwan ($3.2bn)” (The National, 2 January).