Sunday, April 2, 2017

With A Storm On The Horizon, Israel Turns On Its Latest Defense System, Pictures Capture U.S. And S Korea Marines Training

With a storm on the horizon, Israel turns on its latest missile defense system

Storm clouds, both literal and figurative, loomed overhead as two batteries of Israel’s latest missile defense system — the David’s Sling — went operational on Sunday.

At a ceremony at the Hatzor Air Base not far from the Gaza Strip, Israel’s top defense officials boasted of the capabilities afforded by the state-of-the-art batteries, as tensions with Hamas threaten to put them to a real-time test soon.

Tensions with Hamas — who have reportedly now also acquired rockets with much larger warheads — have spiraled in recent weeks following the killing of a top Hamas leader.

Hamas has accused Israel of the apparent assassination of its terror chief Mazen Faqha on March 25 and threatened revenge.

Israel has not acknowledged any role in the hit and early Syunday Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman insinuated the terrorist group was responsible for killing Faqha.
While Liberman also said Sunday that Israel has no plans for another “adventure” in Gaza, some analysts and officials have raised the possibility that a fourth round of violence between the Israel Defense Forces and Hamas approaches.
Just before the event, the head of the Israeli Air Force’s Aerial Defense Command, Brig. Gen. Tzvika Haimovitch warned that such a conflict with Hamas would “be more challenging” than previous ones in light of the highly explosive, short-range rockets reportedly acquired by the terrorist group.

The David’s Sling, which is designed for mid-range missiles, would not protect Israel against this new variety of projectile and even the IDF’s Iron Dome short-range interceptor system would also struggle against these rockets.
However, standing in front of one of the David’s Sling batteries, Haimovitch said his unit was better prepared than ever to face the rocket threat.

These awe-inspiring pictures show South Korean marines practicing a landing operation as a part of their annual military training with US troops.
Amphibious assault vehicles fired smoke bombs into the air which covered the movements of the marines as they sprinted onto the beach in Pohang, South Korea. 
The crack troops crawled along the sand peering into their rifle scopes as others bearing mortars came ashore.  
The annual exercises called Foal Eagle come as tensions with North Korea mount after recent missile and rocket testing in the communist state.
Visiting the headquarters of an army unit last month, the North's leader Kim Jong-Un praised his troops for their 'vigilance against the US and South Korean enemy forces that are making frantic efforts for invasion'.
Kim also ordered the troops to 'set up thorough countermeasures of a merciless strike against the enemy's sudden air assault.'

On Friday US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said North Korea must be stopped on its path toward being able to threaten the United States with nuclear attack.
Pyongyang is widely seen as behind the murder of Kim's half-brother Kim Jong-Nam in Kuala Lumpur in February by two women using a banned nerve agent.
Washington and Seoul have agreed to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defence system to counter growing nuclear and missile threats by the North, and the first parts have recently arrived in the South.
The plan has angered Beijing, which fears it will undermine its own ballistic capabilities, with China's foreign ministry saying THAAD 'jeopardises the strategic security interests' in the region and warning of 'consequences' for Seoul and Washington. 

The Russian central bank opened its first overseas office in Beijing on March 14, marking a step forward in forging a Beijing-Moscow alliance to bypass the US dollar in the global monetary system, and to phase-in a gold-backed standard of trade. 
According to the South China Morning Post the new office was part of agreements made between the two neighbours "to seek stronger economic ties" since the West brought in sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis and the oil-price slump hit the Russian economy.

According to Dmitry Skobelkin, the deputy governor of the Central Bank of Russia, the opening of a Beijing representative office by the Central Bank of Russia was a “very timely” move to aid specific cooperation, including bond issuance, anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism measures between China and Russia. 
The new central bank office was opened at a time when Russia is preparing to issue its first federal loan bonds denominated in Chinese yuan. Officials from China’s central bank and financial regulatory commissions attended the ceremony at the Russian embassy in Beijing, which was set up in October 1959 in the heyday of Sino-Soviet relations. Financial regulators from the two countries agreed last May to issue home currency-denominated bonds in each other’s markets, a move that was widely viewed as intended to eventually test the global reserve status of the US dollar.
Speaking on future ties with Russia, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in mid-March that Sino-Russian trade ties were affected by falling oil prices, but he added that he saw great potential in cooperation. Vladimir Shapovalov, a senior official at the Russian central bank, said the two central banks were drafting a memorandum of understanding to solve technical issues around China’s gold imports from Russia, and that details would be released soon. 
If Russia - the world's fourth largest gold producer after China, Japan and the US - is indeed set to become a major supplier of gold to China, the probability of a scenario hinted by many over the years, namely that Beijing is preparing to eventually unroll a gold-backed currency, increases by orders of magnitude.

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