News Roundup: Japan, China, Iran

Japan's more assertive stance was apparent at the recently concluded APEC summit, with Koizumi showing little interest in mollifying either China or Russia in territorial disputes stemming from East China Sea gas fields and the Kuril Islands respectively. The increasingly confident - and pro-US - Japan is seen as a potential ally against possible threats from China and North Korea. More information is available from Stratfor.

China, eager to fuel its faltering economic engine, has recently been courting the IRI regime in Iran. Meanwhile, the Iranian regime is working to produce a nuclear missile, with over 350 sites involved, according to this Debka report:
... a “walk-in” source approached US intelligence earlier this month with more than 1,000 pages purported to be Iranian drawings and technical documents, including a nuclear warhead design and modifications to enable Iranian ballistic missiles to delivery an atomic strike. The warhead design is based on implosion and adjustments aimed at fitting the warhead on existing Iranian missiles. DEBKAfile’s military experts believe the data referred to the Shehab-3 and its improved version, the Shehab-4. The US official said he would not have revealed this much had not Powell alluded to the intelligence publicly. If the information is confirmed, it would mean the Islamic republic is further along than previously known in developing a nuclear weapon and the means to deliver it.

MEMRI reports that Omar Hadid, one of Saddam's private guards prior to the liberation of Iraq, was also a key aide to Zarqawi and went to Afghanistan for training with al-Qaeda. Omar's brother, Hamid Hadid, was the bureau chief of al-Jazeera in Iraq, before al-Jazeera was closed by the Iraqi government for inciting violence. (This would fall under the category of "Saddam-Zarqawi-al-Qaeda-al-Jazeera links".) This November 19 item at the MEMRI News Ticker is attributed to al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, November 19.