MOSCOW, December 10 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday reiterated staunch opposition to US plans to deploy an extensive missile defense system in Europe, saying the network would “erode” the world’s balance of power.
He said at a meeting with Russia’s defense minister that the country should upgrade its weaponry to maintain parity with “leading nations actively modernizing their arsenals.”
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia would pursue deployment of Iskander nuclear missiles in the country’s western-most region, Kaliningrad, a move threatened in the past as a reaction to the US missile plans.
Putin also noted that the impending withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan would create a “region of instability” in Central Asia, “directly affecting the interests and safety of the Russian Federation.”
The United States and its allies are expected to withdraw the bulk of their forces from Afghanistan next year, following more than a decade of war in the world’s number-one opium producer.
JERUSALEM – Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said yesterday that Iran has built up a terror infrastructure in Central and South America from which to attack Jewish and Israeli targets in the region and as a base for attacking inside the United States.
“The Iranians use diplomatic mail in order to transport bombs and weapons,” he said in a meeting with visiting Guatamalan President Otto Fernando Perez Molina, himself a former intelligence chief in his country. “We know that there are states in South America like Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia where the Iranians have terror bases, both in the embassies and among the local Shiite Muslim populations.”
Yaalon pointed to the indictment of two Iranian nationals in Federal Court in New York two years ago for allegedly plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington and said the Iranians were using drug routes to smuggle weapons into the United States.
“They built this infrastructure,” said Yaalon, “for the eventuality that they will have to act against Jews or Israeli interests. But it is important to them as an infrastructure that enables them to act within the United States.”
Several congressmen last summer attacked a State Department report that concluded Iranian influence in the Western Hemisphere was “waning.” Rep. Matt Salmon (R., Ariz.) said the department’s report “lacked the depth and seriousness that this very important national security issue warrants.”
The State Department said shortly afterwards it would review its findings following publication of a report by an Argentinian prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, which found that Iranian undercover activity in the hemisphere was not waning but increasing.
Nisman headed the official Argentinian investigation into the bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994 in which 85 were killed and hundreds wounded. Nisman concluded that since that event Iran has continued to expand its covert terror network in South America.
Yaalon said Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon not only to protect the regime in Teheran but also to provide a muscular backup to their pursuit of subversion abroad.
“Their goal is regional and global hegemony,” he said.
The billboard also list activities which it claims represent the "true" meaning of Christmas. These include "food," "gifts," and "movies."
The message runs on the billboard for fifteen seconds three times an hour. This week the group will also unveil three billboards at Penn Station with the same message.
In a press release from last week, American Atheist President David Silverman argued that for years Christians have been unjustified in claiming that the focus on the holiday season should be on the birth of Christ.
"We all love this time of year," said Silverman. "Christianity has been trying to claim ownership of the season for hundreds of years. But the winter solstice came first and so did its traditions. The season belongs to everybody."
This is not the first time that American Atheists have sparked controversy during the Christmas season. Last year the group erected a billboard in Times Square comparing Jesus Christ to Santa Claus and dubbing the story of Christmas to be a "myth."
Many on the left contest that conservatives have pulled the idea that there is a "War on Christmas" out of thin air. But even if American liberals deny that such a war is being waged, the country's leading atheist group, American Atheists has no qualms about firing a shot right across the bough of American Christians.
The group has bought and ad on an electronic billboard in Times Square that asks passers-by: "Who need Christ during Christmas? Nobody."