Turkish researchers make nanotechnology breakthrough

HDN image

A group of Turkish researchers at an Ankara university have manufactured the longest and thinnest nanowires ever produced, by employing a novel method to shrink matter 10-million fold.

The invention, discovered at Bilkent University’s National Nanotechnology Research Center, or UNAM, is set to appear on the cover of Nature Material magazine’s July edition.

“At this moment, we may not even be able to predict what things will be produced [in the future] using this method,” said Associate Professor Mehmet Bayýndýr who led the research team.

The new method could provide advancements in many fields, including the production of more effective cells for solar panels, DVD’s with massively enhanced capacity, electronics and other novel applications that could be used in medical imaging technologies, according to the Anatolia news agency.

The research team was trying to obtain a patent for their invention, as well as preparing to apply to the Guinness Book of Records for producing the world’s longest and thinnest semiconductor nanowire.

The new technique includes a new thermal size-reduction process to produce indefinitely long nanowire and nanotube arrays with various materials, Bayýndýr said Friday.

“We are enjoying [the fact that] we are getting higher amounts of projects than scientists in developed countries, despite the global economic crisis,” he said.

The project was funded by the Scientific and Research Council of Turkey, or TÜBITAK, the Turkish Academy of Sciences, or TÜBA, and the State Planning Organization, or the DPT.


Greek Privatization Drive and Strategic Opportunities for Turkey

The Parthenon, Athens

As economic indicators point to an imminent threat of painful restructuring of the Greek public debt and conseuently significant loss of capital for major lenders in the Eurozone, pressure on Greece’s ruling party PASOK and Prime Minister George Papandreou keeps piling on. Even though the austerity measures the PASOK government has been trying to implement have caused widespread protest and resistance from just about every sphere of the Greek society, Papandreou has no choice but to push for the implementation of further measures and accelerate sales of certain Greek government and public assets.

This creates a rare opportunity for cunning countries with strategic interests in Greece, and in a larger sense in the rest of Europe. Russia and China are two of them, Turkey with its rising economic star and increasingly independent, aggressive foreign policy is another.

Chine sees Greece as an extremely efficient gateway into Europe via which the Asian superpower can ship and distribute its immense line of consumer goods, dramatically increasing its reach to the European markets in the continent’s north and west. It has already shown interest in acquiring controlling shares for the Thessaloniki (Selanik) and Pireas ports.

Russian energy giant Gazprom is aiming at DEPA Gas in order to strengthen the Bear’s grip on the European energy network at large, while RWE of Germany is gunning after Greece’s Public Power Corporation in collaboration with French and Czech investors.

Turkey seems to be in an adventageous position to make similar moves as well, for the same motivations as China and Russia plus three more: (1) Its considerably large economy and GDP growth rate in the region, (2) close geographic proximity to Greece, and (3) historical sensitivities and certain national security concerns of its own.

Timing could not have been better for Turkish firms, with or without support from the AKP government, to invest in Greece. Among the publicly owned assets lined up for privatization by Greece are LARCO, a major mining company, TrainOSE, a railway company, Hellenic Telecommunications, which already signed an agreement with Germany’s Deutsche Telekom for 10% of its shares, Athens International Airport, Thessaloniki Water Supply & Sewerage and four Airbus A340-300 passanger jets. These assets present a buying opportunity below market place.

Beyond these companies mentioned, there are two other strategic assets at the moment that pose a very special opportunity for Turkey from a national security perspective: Hellenic Aerospace and Hellenic Defense Systems.

Let’s face it. Even though Greece has never posed an existential threat for Turkey in the last 1,000 years, it has managed to be somewhat of an annoyance, forcing Turkey to set aside billions of liras to create and maintain its Aegean army. Greece’s territorial attempts in Greece, menacing politics in regards to the Orthodox Patriarch in Istanbul or the Turkish minority in Western Thrace, as well as continuous violations of Turkish territorial waters and airspace in the Aegean Sea have kept Turkey on both diplomatic and military red alert.

Combined with the advancements in Turkey’s own defence industry and its exponential growth in recent years, acquisition of these two Greek national assets by Turkish firms can be both economically rewarding and strategically incisive.

If Turkey means to become a true regional power, this opportunity in Greece cannot be passed for only China, Russia and a few others to spoil. Time has come for Turkey to take bold steps.

Hasan Karaahmet

Thales Loses Court Appeal, Owes Taiwan $591M

A French court on June 9 ordered defense giant Thales to pay the Taiwanese Navy almost $600 million, rejecting the group’s appeal against last year’s arbitration ruling.

An arbitration panel employed by two parties to settle their differences found in April 2010 that the French firm had wrongly paid commissions to intermediaries to secure a huge warship contract.

Thales appealed the private panel’s decision in a civil court, but its complaint has been thrown out, leaving it facing a bill of at least $591 million plus interest and legal fees.

The French defense and electronics firm signed the original contract to supply Taiwan with six Horizon-class frigates in 1991. The deal specifically excluded the payment of sweeteners to go-betweens.

Thales can still appeal the latest ruling – it was based not on a re-examination of the case itself but on the conduct of the arbitration – in France’s top appeal court, the Court of Cassation.

It was not immediately clear whether it would do so.


India Successfully Tests Nuclear-Capable Missile

Prithvi II is an Indian short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

India on June 9 tested a short-range nuclear-capable missile along its eastern coast, an official said, part of the nation’s efforts to build up its atomic deterrent.

The surface-to-surface Prithvi-II missile was fired from a range in the eastern state of Orissa and hit its target in the Bay of Bengal successfully, the defence ministry official said.

The Prithvi, which is domestically built and developed, can carry nuclear or conventional payloads and has already been inducted into the armed services.

India’s Defence Research Development Organisation is developing a series of missiles as part of the country’s deterrent strategy against neighboring Pakistan and China, who also have nuclear weapons.

The fourth test of the 30-foot Prithvi-II was a routine part of training exercises for the Indian armed forces, officials said.

With a striking range of 200 miles (350 kilometers), the missile is capable of carrying a 2,200-pound (1,000-kilogram) warhead.

Bhubaneswar – AFP

US presses Turkey to join Libya air bombing

The Obama administration criticized five key military allies Wednesday to take on a greater share of the NATO-led air campaign against Muammar Gaddafi’s forces, illustrating the strains of a three-month intervention in Libya that has no time frame for an exit.

The pressure on Germany, Poland, Spain, Turkey and Netherlands comes as the alliance continues with intensified airstrikes on Libya’s capital.

Gates said Spain, Turkey and the Netherlands should enhance their limited participation in noncombat operations by joining in strike missions against ground targets, U.S. officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal NATO deliberations. They said Gates pressed Germany and Poland, the two countries not participating at all militarily, to help in some form.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton likely will restate Gates’ argument Thursday when NATO nations and Arab governments participating in the air campaign meet in the United Arab Emirates.

Responding to the US criticism, Turkish National Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul said Thursday that the Turkish prime minister, government and Turkish president would decide on a possible role for Turkey in air bombing of Libya when the issue came up on the agenda of the government.

I have not yet received Mr. Gates’s demand and his words on the issue, Gonul told reporters in southern province of Antalya on Thursday.

Our decision on Libya has two dimensions. One of them has to do with the embargo while the other involves humanitarian assistance. We are contributing to the embargo with four frigates, one submarine and six F-16 jets. We have a principled decision on not participating in the “No Fly Zone”. The decision is valid today. Once Mr. Gates’s demand reaches the Turkish government, our Prime Minister, the whole government and our President would assess the situation, Gonul also said.


Russia Says NATO Not Listening on Missile Shield

General Missile Defence Architecture

NATO and Russia failed to reach a breakthrough on a missile shield project in Europe on June 8 with the Russian defense minister complaining that Moscow’s demands were falling on deaf ears.

After talks between NATO defense ministers and their Russian counterpart in Brussels, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen dismissed Russian demands for a legal guarantee that the project was not directed at Russia.

“It would be in the interest of Russia to engage in a positive cooperation with NATO and focus on real security challenges instead of some ghosts of the past that don’t exist anymore,” Rasmussen said.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed at a NATO summit in November to explore the possibility of cooperating with the former Cold War foe on a system to protect Europe’s population from the threat of ballistic missiles.

Fearing that the system would undermine its nuclear deterrent, Moscow has since then demanded a legally binding guarantee that the missile shield was not aimed at Russia.

The Western military alliance has also rejected Medvedev’s idea of dividing the European continent into sectors of military responsibility, with Rasmussen saying the two sides should keep their systems separate.

“NATO is not hearing us for the moment,” said Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov. “NATO’s position is not acceptable to Russia,” he said, adding however that Russia still hoped to reach an agreement.

Despite the lack of a breakthrough, Rasmussen said he was optimistic that a deal could be reach in time for the next NATO summit hosted by the United States in May 2012.

“The Russians have their positions and their interests, we have our positions and our interests, and now the political challenge is to build a bridge and we still have some time,” he said.

“I would expect us to make steady progress. It would be hard work but I’m still optimistic. I think at the end of the day we can reach a solution.”

In the meantime, NATO defense ministers adopted an action plan on June 8 to forge ahead with the missile shield project, which an alliance official said is expected to be completed by 2018.


NATO Meeting in Talinn Addresses Cyber Security

Three hundred global cyber experts gathered in Tallinn on June 7 for a NATO Cyber Conflict conference focused on the legal and political aspects of national and global Internet security amid a rise in attacks.

“The special focus at the conference this year is on generating cyber forces (…) the technologies, people and organizations that nations require to mitigate cyber threats that have been increasing with rapid speed,” Col. Ilmar Tamm, head of NATO’s Tallinn-based Cyber Defence Centre told AFP as the forum got underway.

According to Tamm, the Symantec cyber security firm recently reported that “web-based attacks in 2010 were up 93 percent from 2009.”

“This calls for frameworks in both legal and strategic aspects which would guide the decision makers on how to act on these cases,” Tamm said.

The Tallinn conference will coincide with a NATO defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels where a new cyber defense policy for NATO will be adopted.

Meanwhile, at the third annual Tallinn meeting, experts from 37 countries are to share cutting-edge cyber security research, Tamm explained.

Among others, Ralph Langner, the German computer scientist who conducted much of the ground-breaking research on the Stuxnet worm, will present an analysis of what has been called the world’s first cyber weapon.

Keir Giles from the U.K. Conflict Studies Research Centre is to analyze global cyber attacks from Russia and whether they can be seen as acting under a so-called Russian Cyber Command.

Talks will also focus on the recent U.S. government decision to treat cyber attacks as military attacks and make relevant legislative changes.

“The support the U.S. initiative has got in many other states, including Estonia and the U.K., indicates nations’ increasing willingness to discuss military responses to cyber attacks,” Tamm told AFP.

“With cyber incidents becoming more and more intrusive, it is a logical step for militaries to develop capabilities to counter cyber attacks and be prepared to engage in proportional response to cyber attacks,” he added.

Though in practice, “it will be challenging to tailor a cyber response that would respect the rules of combat related to civilian objects and collateral damage,” he added.


Nuclear Weapons Threat Not Decreasing: SIPRI

More than 5,000 nuclear weapons are deployed around the world and nuclear powers continue investing in new weapon systems, making meaningful disarmament in the near future unlikely, a report published Tuesday said.

“More than 5,000 nuclear weapons are deployed and ready for use, including nearly 2,000 that are kept in a high state of alert,” according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

SIPRI’s report said the world’s eight nuclear powers – Britain, China, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia and the U.S. – possess more than 20,500warheads.

As of January 2011, Russia had 11,000 nuclear warheads, including 2,427deployed, while the United States had 8,500 including 2,150 deployed, the report said.

The U.S. and Russia have signed a Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) that calls for a maximum of 1,550 warheads deployed per country.

However SIPRI argued that prospects for meaningful disarmament in the short-term are grim as all eight countries seem committed to either improving or maintaining their nuclear programs.

“The five legally recognized nuclear weapons states, as defined by the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty are either deploying new nuclear weapon systems or have announced their intention to do so,” the report said, referring to Britain, China, France, Russia and the U.S.

India and Pakistan are “expanding their capacity to produce fissile material for military purposes,” according to the report.

SIPRI Director Daniel Nord said south Asia, where relations between India and Pakistan seem perpetually tense, is “the only place in the world where you have a nuclear weapons arms race.”

While Israel, which has never conclusively declared itself a nuclear weapons state but is almost universally assumed to be one, “appears to be waiting to assess how the situation with Iran’s nuclear program develops,” SIPRI said.

Nord argued that because “nuclear weapons states are modernizing and are investing in their nuclear weapons establishments (it) seems unlikely that there will be any real nuclear weapon disarmament within the foreseeable future.”

The report said that North Korea “is believed to have produced enough plutonium to build a small number of nuclear warheads, but there is no public information to verify that it has operational nuclear weapons.”

Nord identified Pakistan “losing control of part of its nuclear arsenal” to a terrorist group as a specific concern.

He also voiced worry over the potential consequences if “Israel or the United States decide that they will have to intervene and do something about the program in Iran.”

Iran has repeatedly insisted that its nuclear program is non-military, but several world powers have demanded closer international inspection of Iran’s nuclear sites to verify the claim.

SIPRI is an independent institution that receives 50 percent of its funding from the Swedish state.

Stockholm – AFP

Turkey joins trade rush into Africa

A worker for the Chinese company Zhongyuan Petroleum Exploration Bureau climbs onto a drilling platform of an oil rig near Melut in the Upper Nile, Sudan, in this file photo. Countries like Turkey and Brazil are following China in a trade and investment push into Africa. Bloomberg photo

The clout of emerging economies is increasing in global trade, according to a benchmark report on Africa, showing the ability of nations, including Turkey, to open inroads into the economic centers of the African continent.

India, Turkey, South Korea and Brazil are emulating China’s push to boost trade with Africa, as they erode the market share of the continent’s traditional European and North American trading partners, according to the 2011 African Economic Outlook released Monday.

The report comes at a time when HSBC’s influential chief economist Stephen King talks about the creation of a “Southern Silk Road,” a network of new “south-south” trading routes connecting Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

In his analysis also released Monday, King claimed that such connections are set to revolutionize the global economy. “We believe that trade and capital flows between emerging areas of the world could increase 10-fold in the next 40 forty years,” he said. “In the same way that trade between the developed nations exploded in the 1950s and 1960s, we expect the 21st century to see turbocharged trade growth between the emerging nations.”

Emerging economies accounted for about 39 percent of Africa’s merchandise trade in 2009, up from 23 percent a decade earlier, according to the 2001 African Economic Outlook, which was released in Lisbon.

China accounted for 13.9 percent of Africa’s total trade of $629 billion in 2009, while India accounted for 5.1 percent, South Korea 2.6 percent, Brazil 2.5 percent, Turkey 2.4 percent and Thailand 1.1 percent, said the Outlook.

The report was produced by the African Development Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United Nations Development Program and the UN Economic Commission for Africa.

Increased diversification

“Africa now has two engines to fly on,” OECD economist Jean-Phillipe Stijns, one of the report’s authors, told Bloomberg News. “The diversification of its trading partners bodes well for its ability to resist better the ups and downs of the global business cycle.”

Africa’s new trading partners may also help it reduce its reliance on exporting raw materials. While 85 percent of foreign direct investment flows from traditional investors into resource-rich countries, the ratio for emerging partners is closer to 70 percent, according to Stijns.

“There is this perception that emerging partners, more than any other partners, are resource hungry and the reason they are in Africa is to get the lion’s share of natural resources,” he said. “They are not the culprits. In fact, emerging partners are more diversified than traditional partners in terms of where they are active in Africa.”

According to HSBC’s King, the ongoing “trade revolution” will soon be joined by new finance centers. “Asian financial centers are growing rapidly and, in time, the [Chinese] renminbi may become the world’s most important reserve currency,” he said, continuing: “Already, China has five of the 10 biggest ports in the world. Other emerging nations are not quite so advanced. But, with the help of Chinese investment, the process of infrastructure ‘catch-up’ is slowly being established.”

King raised eyebrows with his latest “Losing Control: The Emerging Threats to Western Prosperity” book. In Monday’s report, he said proposed railways coast-to-coast “across Colombia and from China through to Turkey” alongside new port construction in the Indian Ocean show the shape of things to come. According to King, the center of economic and political gravity is “heading South and East” in a 21st-century version of the original Asian Silk Road, this time involving South-South connections over “land, sea, air and the electronic ether.”


China to launch Gokturk satellite in December

Gokturk Satellite

China will launch Turkey’s first intelligence satellite, Göktürk-2, for $20 million since Turkey lacks the required technology to launch the satellite. Göktürk-2, which will be capable of detecting the movements of objects smaller than even one square meter, will help capture terrorists infiltrating Turkish borders.

The optical camera for the satellite has been bought from South Korea, while all the other parts have been produced and manufactured in Turkey. Göktürk-2 is expected to be launched in December or in early 2012.
The Göktürk-2 satellite will also be used for monitoring civilian activities such as control of forestland, tracking illegal construction, rapid assessment of damage after natural disasters, determination of agricultural boundaries and geographical data gathering. The project also aims to furnish national industries with the capability to design and integrate satellite systems and run tests on them here in Turkey.
Turkish defense industry companies and research centers Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), Aselsan, the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) and Turksat will participate in all phases of the project. The project consists of the construction of an electro-optic satellite system that will be put into orbit, a fixed land station and a mobile land station.
Gokturk-1, a higher resolution version of the satellite using a more advanced bus and different frame, is currently under construction by a consortium of Telespazio and Thales-Alenia. Planned for launch in 2013, Gokturk-1 will be capable of providing imagery at a resolution of 30cm.
According to rumors circulating around Turkish defence spheres, Israel actively tries using diplomatic pressure to block the launch of Göktürk-2, fearing that Turkey will be able to monitor Israel’s territory. However, no international legal remedy is available to Israel to limit the operations of Gokturk satellites at this time.
“You’ve been monitoring us [Turkish terriotory] for years.” Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said in a press conference, referring to the unreasonable request of Israeli authorities.
“No compromise is expected to be reached with Israel regarding this matter,” a Turkish official told TR Defence at the IDEF international defence industry fair.
Industrial defence cooperation between Turkey and China goes back at least two decades. Turkey has acquired a number artillery rockets from China and codeveloped short-range ballistic missiles.