- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 29, 2012

STATE BLOCKS GRANT TO RUSSIA

The State Department recently denied $2 million in grants to a Russian research institute over concerns the money would be used to boost Moscow’s advanced nuclear missile work.

The unusual denial of the grant money was based on a review of a research program to be funded through the Moscow-based International Science and Technology Center, a group that acts as a funding vehicle for research cooperation and training in the former Soviet Union. The department feared the grant could undermine U.S. national security.

A State Department official said the project for the funds was reviewed in 2009 and 2010.

“During that review process, State recommended that the projects be denied based on the nature of the research: the projects involved the use of plasma actuator technology applied to hypersonic flows,” the official said.

“This aerospace-focused technology has direct application to UAV and missile systems,” the official added, referring to unmanned aerial vehicles.

“Russia is known to be pursuing advanced missile technologies that would benefit from this research. It is not in our national security interest to promote the development and spread of technologies that would ultimately benefit Russian military applications.”

Russian strategic missile forces are known to be building a high-technology “depressed-trajectory” strategic-missile warhead that travels in space and then re-enters the atmosphere at extremely high speeds. The warhead is being designed to defeat U.S. long-range missile defenses by making the warhead more difficult to track and target.

The two research grants totaling $2 million were supposed to have gone to the United Institute of High Temperatures within the Russian Academy of Sciences. The money was to be used for work on controlling the space flight of vehicles using a process known as magneto-plasma aerodynamics, according to Russian newspaper reports.

According to a report in the newspaper Izvestia, the denial notice was sent from the International Scientific and Technical Center, and it stated that the project was sponsored by the Air Force Research Lab.

SYRIA QUANDARY

The Obama administration appears to be facing a policy quandary over what to do about the escalating violence by Syrian government forces against civilians and opposition rebel forces.

Other than condemning the widespread shelling attacks, so far the administration is refusing to intervene, either militarily or through covert action in support of the Free Syrian Army or against the Bashar Assad regime and its forces.

U.S. officials, however, are closely watching states in the region. One country that could take action, possibly military intervention, is Saudi Arabia.

Both the Saudi King Abdullah and Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal recently called for covert military aid to rebels and even military attacks in support of opposition forces.

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