Under the Radar News 01.07.11

Posted on Friday, January 7, 2011 by Amy Chang

A weekly compilation of underreported events in Asia

  • Japan's $480 million investment in Vietnam's fledgling space industry will improve Japan's galactic public image and give Vietnam its own set of eyes in outer space.

  • China’s People’s Liberation Army is assembling the production and basing capacity to make its aircraft carrier program one of Asia’s largest military endeavors. By the 2020s, it is conceivable for China to have five aircraft carriers, including the ex-Soviet carrier Varyag, which entered a phase of accelerated reconstruction in 2009.

  • China has completed a prototype of a next-generation stealth fighter, the J-20, to be deployed as early as 2017. The Jian-20 is speculated to be capable of carrying large missiles and, with airborne refueling, could fly as far as Guam. The development, along with news of advances on an anti-ship missile, raises concerns about China's military intentions and poses a threat to U.S. presence in the region.

  • Hardeep Puri, India's permanent representative in the UN, was elected to chair the key UN Security Council counterterrorism committee (UNSCR 1373) and international security committee (UNSCR 1566).

  • Chinese scientists have made a breakthrough in nuclear fuel reprocessing technology that could effectively end any uranium supply concerns. China's proven uranium sources will last only 50 to 70 years, but this now changes to 3000 years.

  • India's new Power Reactor Fuel Reprocessing Plant-2 facility in Tarapur will break down highly radioactive used nuclear fuel to extract uranium and plutonium for reuse in fast neutron reactors. It was hailed as “a significant milestone in India's three-stage indigenous nuclear program.” The plant is expected to replace the existing 10-tonne per annum facility at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. The new facility is capable of reprocessing 100 tonnes of spent fuel a year.

  • South Korea's special forces have dwindled to the point that they are outnumbered 10:1 by their North Korean counterparts. The North has increased special forces by 80,000 to 200,000 over the past four years. By contrast, the number of the South Korean special forces stands at fewer than 20,000.

  • North Korea has lowered its military alert status, prompting similar moves by Seoul and U.S. forces as tensions on the Korean peninsula showed signs of easing. Tensions have been high since the North shelled South Korea's frontline Yeonpyeong Island on Nov. 23.

  • Bouasone Bouphavanh abruptly resigned as Laotian prime minister in December amid fierce opposition to his policy of opening up the country's economy.

  • SIPC Myanmar Petroleum Co. Ltd (a joint venture between Burma’s Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise and China’s Sinopec) uncovered gas reserves in the Pahtolon oilfield of at least 909 billion cubic feet, and potentially 7.16 million barrels of gas condensate.

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