Trump says transgender ban a ‘great favor’ to militaryTrump: „I’m doing the military a great favor” with the transgender ban Scroll back up to restore default view.Bedminster (United States) (AFP) – President Donald Trump said Thursday that he did the US military a „great favor” by banning transgender troops from the armed forces.Trump, speaking to reporters at his New Jersey country club, said the issue of transgender service members had been „complicated” and „confusing” for the military.”Look, I have great respect for the (transgender) community,” Trump said. „I think I have great support — or I’ve had — great support from that community.”I got a lot of votes.”But Trump said the issue of transgender troops has been a „very difficult situation” for the US armed forces.”As you know, it’s been a very complicated issue for the military,” he said. „It’s been a very confusing issue for the military”I think I’m doing the military a great favor.”In a series of three tweets last month, Trump upended an Obama-era policy of more than a year that allowed transgender troops to serve openly.His announcement came with little or no coordination with the Pentagon and landed while Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was on vacation, leaving the astonished department scrambling to come up with a coherent response.Five transgender women in the US military filed suit against Trump and the Pentagon this week over the ban.In a lawsuit filed in federal court Wednesday, the five plaintiffs from the Air Force, Coast Guard and the Army said they faced uncertainty about their futures, including whether they would be fired or lose post-military and retirement benefits.The lawsuit was filed against Trump, Mattis and various other senior military officials by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLAAD, a legal advocacy group.All the unidentified „Jane Doe” plaintiffs were previously men who have transitioned to being female.The number of transgender troops among America’s 1.3 million active duty service members is small, with estimates ranging from between 1,320 and 15,000.In the two weeks since Trump’s tweets, the White House has still not provided the Pentagon with clear directives on how it should implement a transgender ban, so the current policy remains in place for now.
Mattis: War with North Korea would be ‘catastrophic’ DAKSHAYANI SHANKAR,Good Morning America 1 hour 24 minutes agoSecretary of Defense James Mattis made his first on-camera remarks Thursday about North Korea’s threats to attack Guam with ICBMs, saying that a potential nuclear incident „would be catastrophic.”While speaking to reporters at the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental(DIUx) event in Mountain View, California, he was asked by a reporter, „Can you talk about the human toll we might see in the event of a nuclear confrontation?””My portfolio, my mission, my responsibility is to have military options if you need it,” Mattis responded. „However, right now, Secretary Tillerson, Ambassador Haley, you can see the American effort is diplomatically led, it has diplomatic traction, it is gaining diplomatic results. And I want to stay right there right now. The tragedy of war is well enough known. It does not need another characterization beyond the fact that it would be catastrophic.”Deviating from the tone of President Trump, who said the U.S. would unleash „fire and fury” upon North Korea, Mattis stressed that the route forward would be diplomatic, and he repeated the importance of the unanimous 15-1 United Nations Security Council vote to impose economic sanctions on North Korea.”It’s [North Korea’s] aligning the United Nations in very serious sanctions, and I would just tell you that it did not happen by accident,” Mattis said. „That shows where the Trump administration goes in terms of the prioritizing of the threat but also how to deal with it in a diplomatically effective manner.”And Mattis said earlier in a statement, „While our State Department is making every effort to resolve this global threat through diplomatic means, it must be noted that the combined allied militaries now possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive…capabilities on Earth,” Mattis said in a statement.Mattis’ comments come on the heels of North Korea’s state media announcementThursday that its military would devise a plan by mid-August to fire four intermediate range missiles at the U.S. territory of Guam as a “crucial warning to the U.S.”Trump has notched up his criticism of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, saying he has “gotten away with [horrific] things for a long time between him and his family” and that he wouldn’t let Jong-un “get away it” now. Trump added that “maybe the statement wasn’t tough enough” and that North Korea can expect a reaction “of the likes of which nobody has seen before” if Jong-un strikes Guam.ABC News’ Elizabeth McLaughlin contributed to this report
World North Korea details plan to fire missiles over Japan, near Guam By Christine Kim and Martin Petty,Reuters 12 hours ago North Korea says seriously considering plan to strike Guam: KCNA Scroll back up to restore default view.By Christine Kim and Martin Petty SEOUL/GUAM (Reuters) – North Korea said on Thursday it was completing plans to fire four intermediate-range missiles over Japan to land near the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam in an unusually detailed threat that further heightened tensions with the United States.North Korea’s army will complete the plans in mid-August, when they will be ready for leader Kim Jong Un’s order, state-run KCNA news agency reported, citing General Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army. The plans called for the missiles to land in the sea only 30-40 km (18-25 miles) from Guam.Map of Guam and North Korea’s missile strike plan. (Reuters)The reclusive communist country, technically still at war with the United States and South Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce and not a peace treaty, is known for making bellicose threats.Experts in South Korea said North Korea’s plans ratcheted up risks significantly, since Washington was likely to view any missile aimed at its territory as a provocation, even if launched as a test. North Korea has carried out a series of missile and nuclear bomb tests in defiance of the international community.SLIDESHOW: Inside the North Korean military: A look at the rogue nation’s armed services »North Korea announced the plans following U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments on Tuesday that any threats by Pyongyang would be „met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” remarks that KCNA called „a load of nonsense.”North Korea’s apparently rapid progress in developing nuclear weapons and missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland has fueled tensions that erupted into a war of words between Washington and Pyongyang this week, unnerving regional powers and global investors.World stocks fell for a third day, with shares in Seoul slumping to a seven-week low.The rising tensions between North Korea and the United States — the biggest foreign policy crisis Trump has faced in his six-month-old presidency — contributed to a weak open for U.S. stocks.The benchmark S&P 500 stock index <.SPX> dropped 0.75 percent in the first hour of trade. The index has had just two days so far this year where it has closed with losses of more than 1 percent.As announced by North Korea, which added detail to a plan first unveiled on Wednesday, the planned path of the missiles would cross some of the world’s busiest sea and air traffic routes.Guam, a tropical island more than 3,000 km (2,000 miles) to the southeast of North Korea, is home to about 163,000 people and a U.S. air base, Navy installation that includes a submarine squadron and Coast Guard group.”The Hwasong-12 rockets to be launched by the KPA (Korean People’s Army) will cross the sky above Shimane, Hiroshima and Koichi Prefectures of Japan,” the North Korean report said. „They will fly 3,356.7 km (2,085.8 miles) for 1,065 seconds and hit the waters 30 to 40 km away from Guam.””Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him,” KCNA said of Trump.While North Korea regularly threatens to destroy the United States and its allies, the report was unusual in its detail. It follows two successful tests of an intercontinental missile by the isolated state in July and a series of other missile tests.Chart showing how North Korean missiles are getting closer to targeting the United States. (Reuters)”Even if the North’s missiles do not hit the ocean territory of Guam, the U.S. will not tolerate such a provocation simply because it is a severe threat to its national security,” said Cha Do-hyeogn, visiting researcher at the Asian Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul.Masao Okonogi, professor emeritus at Japan’s Keio University, said before the latest KCNA report that Pyongyang may be issuing a warning or advance notice of changes to its missile testing program rather than threatening an attack.”I believe this is a message saying they plan to move missile tests from the Sea of Japan to areas around Guam,” he told Reuters. „By making this advance notice, they are also sending a tacit message that what they are going to do is not an actual attack.”Major airlines that fly over the region said they had so far made no plans to change flight paths.For an interactive graphic on North Korea’s missile capabilities – http://tmsnrt.rs/2t6WEPLGraphic on North Korean missile trajectories – http://tmsnrt.rs/2vLMdVm ‘ENJOY THE BEACHES’ Visitors and residents on Guam appeared to be taking things in their stride. The main beach front on the island was packed with tourists dozing under trees or on the sun loungers of five-star hotels lined up before a calm sea.Governor Eddie Calvo said Guam had experienced a Japanese invasion in World War Two and countless earthquakes and super-typhoons, and there was no U.S. community better prepared to meet the North Korean threat.”We are concerned about these threats but at the same time we also want to make sure people don’t panic and go on with their lives. Enjoy the beaches,” Calvo said.Lee Choon-geun, senior research fellow at South Korea’s state-run Science and Technology Policy Institute, said there was a risk that any missile could land much closer to Guam than planned.”The United States will consider it an apparent attack if it lands within its territorial waters and, given the risks involved, will most likely try to shoot them down before they land anywhere close to Guam and its territorial sea,” Lee told Reuters.”This could elevate the threats to an unprecedented level.”The U.S. Seventh Fleet currently has six Aegis ballistic missile defense ships in the region capable of targeting North Korean missiles, and Japan has a further four. Guam also has a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system, similar to one recently installed in South Korea.Japan could legally intercept a North Korean missile headed towards Guam, its defense minister said on Thursday, but experts believe Japan does not currently have the capability to do so.Angered as the United States and its allies ignore Chinese calls to calm tensions over North Korea, and distracted by domestic concerns, China is largely sitting out the crisis.Tension in the region has risen since North Korea carried out two nuclear bomb tests last year and the intercontinental missile tests, all in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Trump has said he will not allow Pyongyang to develop a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the United States.Washington has warned it is ready to use force if needed to stop North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs but that it prefers global diplomatic action. The U.N. Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea on Saturday.(Additional reporting by Daniel Bases in New York, Patricia Zengerle, Susan Heavey and John Walcott in Washington, Soyoung Kim in Seoul, William Mallard, Tim Kelly, Kiyoshi Takenaka and Linda Sieg in Tokyo, Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina in Beijing, Jamie Freed in Singapore and John Ruwitch in Shanghai; Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Will Dunham; Editing by Nick Macfie and Alistair Bell)
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Business Insider North Korea is acting like it’s ready for war, but Kim Jong Un’s back is against the wall Alex Lockie,Business Insider 11 hours ago
Despite intense saber rattling between the US and North Korea, experts told Business Insider that all intelligence coming from the Hermit Kingdom indicates it’s not getting ready for war and that doing so would be catastrophic for it.”Yes there’s a lot of statements going back and forth that are escalating tensions, but in the real world on the ground in North Korea, and I suspect in South Korea, life goes on,” Joel Wit, a senior fellow at US-Korea Institute who previously worked on North Korea policy at the State Department, said on a call with reporters organized by 38 North.Wit said satellite imagery of North Korea just wasn’t showing the drumbeat of war playing out for normal citizens. Foreigners haven’t fled. Workers haven’t been pulled from factories, and even the media remains calm and focused on the economy.
World U.S. vs North Korea: Kim Jong Un Mocks Trump as Thousands Vow to ‘Become Bullets and Bombs’ at Mass Rallies Sofia Lotto Persio,Newsweek 18 hours ago North Korea made a mockery of U.S. President Donald Trump and his intimidating warning of meeting Pyongyang’s threats with “fire and fury” as the rogue state continued to threaten the U.S. territory of Guam and thousands of people showed up in the capital for a rally in support of ruler Kim Jong Un.A North Korean general was quoted in state-run news agency KCNA rebuffing Trump’s threats, made on Tuesday during the president’s vacation at his golf course in New Jersey and criticized across the U.S. political spectrum as “a load of nonsense” and adding specific information about the military’s plan to attack Guam. Trending: Yellowstone Supervolcano: Map Shows Ground Deformation Around Caldera Over Last Two Years“The U.S. president again let out a load of nonsense about ‘fire and fury,’ failing to grasp the ongoing grave situation,” said General Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army, the military branch overlooking the missile units.“Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him,” the commander added.According to the general, the military is targeting the U.S. military bases in Guam, with the plans expected to be completed by mid-August and then presented to Kim Jong Un for him to decide if and when to strike.Read more: Where is Guam? North Korea threatens attack on U.S. territory home to 160,000 people and two military basesDon’t miss: War on ISIS: U.S. Bombing Pushes Final Christians Out of RaqqaBizarrely, KCNA reported specific details of the plan, which involves the launch of four Hwasong-12 rockets over Japan’s Shimane, Hiroshima and Kochi prefectures, flying “3,356.7km [2,085 miles] for 1,065 seconds and hit the waters 30 to 40 km [18-25 miles] away from Guam”.The Hwasong-12 missiles are ground-to-ground medium long-range strategic ballistic rockets, which were tested in May and are believed to be able to reach the U.S. territory, which lies around 2,100 miles away from Pyongyang.Read more: Is the U.S. going to war with North Korea? New threats from Trump and Kim Jong Un highlight troubled historyAlong with the detailed plans, North Koreans demonstrated commitment and support of the country’s anti-U.S. stance in a mass city rally on Wednesday. Most popular: Tottenham Hotspur: Is Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs Team Now a Selling Club?According to KCNA, representatives of North Korea’s army, institutions, workers’ associations, party and government officials—but not Kim Jong Un himself—were present at the rally.Thousands of people gathered in Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang marching with their right-hand fist raised and holding signs reading slogans like “Let’s become bullets and bombs devotedly defending respected Supreme Leader Comrade Kim Jong Un!” and „We fully support the statement of the DPRK government categorically rejecting the ‘sanctions resolution’ against the DPRK!” [the acronym for the country’s official name Democratic’s People Republic of Korea]. Confronting North Korea’s plans, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis warned the country to „cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people” as it would lose any military confrontation.”While our State Department is making every effort to resolve this global threat through diplomatic means, it must be noted that the combined allied militaries now possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth. The DPRK regime’s actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates,” Mattis said in a statement to the press on Wednesday.
Brushing off Putin, Trump says fewer diplomats saves money JOSH LEDERMAN and JONATHAN LEMIRE •Trump thanks Putin for ordering U.S. to cut embassy staff Trump thanks Putin for ordering U.S. to cut embassy staff Yahoo News VideoScroll back up to restore default view. BEDMINISTER, N.J. (AP) — President Donald Trump on Thursday brushed off Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to expel hundreds of U.S. diplomatic employees from Russia, instead thanking Putin and insisting it would save the U.S. significant cash.In remarks to reporters at his golf course in central New Jersey, Trump dismissed Putin’s move, saying he „greatly’ appreciated Putin’s help cutting down the payroll at the U.S. State Department.”I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down on payroll,” Trump said, adding: „As far as I am concerned, I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll. There’s no real reason for them to go back. So, I greatly appreciate the fact that they’ve been able to cut our payroll for the United States. We’ll save a lot of money.”It was unclear whether the president was joking at all in his remarks, which were made following a security briefing held during an extended working vacation at Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey, golf course. The White House did not immediately respond to questions about the president’s remarks.Putin said last month the U.S. would have to cut 755 of its embassy and consular staff in Russia — a long-expected response to President Barack Obama’s order to expel 35 Russian diplomats and shut down two Russian recreational retreats in the U.S. Obama took action following allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.Trump’s comments were a shock to State Department officials, according to officials who described the reaction on condition of anonymity to avoid potential repercussions for reporting criticism of the president. Some in the department were dismayed to hear the president suggest, even sarcastically, that American diplomats were a waste of money and unneeded in large numbers in a major world power like Russia, the officials said.There was no immediate official reaction from the State Department. But Trump’s comments were not expected to alter plans for the U.S. to deliver a formal response to Moscow by Sept. 1. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a meeting Sunday in the Philippines that a response would be coming by that date, the deadline that Russia previously set for the U.S. diplomats to leave.It’s still unclear how the reduction in personnel will work, and Tillerson said he asked „clarifying questions” of Lavrov in their meeting. A key question is whether the reduction affects only Americans posted to Russia or also locally hired staff at the embassy and consulates.A reduction in American staff would likely hit consular officers, who process visas for Russians who want to visit the U.S.Trump has said he believes U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusions that Russia meddled in the election, but he has dismissed the ongoing investigations into possible collusion between Moscow and his campaign aides as a „witch hunt.”_Lederman reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in Washington contributed to this report.
Before a North Korea war, we’d see this CNN Wed, Aug 9 10:32 AM PDT (CNN) Despite bellicose rhetoric coming from US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, analysts say there are no signs the US is planning a first strike on North Korea or that Kim will make good on threats to hit the US territory of Guam.The US military isn’t in any position right now to strike North Korea with the kind of campaign that would be needed to bring battlefield success and would need weeks, if not months, to sort out the logistics, analysts say.Mark Hertling, a retired US Army general and CNN analyst, said the tens of thousands of US civilians, many of them military dependents, would first need to be evacuated from South Korea.„How do you get the families off the peninsula? You have to do that first,” he said.The US would also need to add to its forces in the region in what Hertling called „a reinforcement of shooters.” These would include US Navy ships and submarines armed with cruise missiles, plus Air Force bombers that could operate out of bases in Japan or Guam, he said.View this interactive content on CNN.com„Some of these are in places in the region, but not enough to decapitate North Korea in terms of their artillery,” Hertling said.North Korea has thousands of conventional artillery pieces within range of the South Korean capital of Seoul. Studies have estimated South Korean casualties from artillery barrages to be in the tens of thousands on the first day of conflict.Hertling says a couple of weeks of airstrikes would be needed to take out that artillery. And the US would need the planes, bombs, fuel and support personnel in place to carry out that campaign, he said, comparing it to the country’s Desert Storm operation against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 1991.In Desert Storm, the US-led coalition began its bombing campaign against Iraq more than five months after hostilities began with Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.As with Desert Storm, it would take weeks to get needed US Army tanks and ground troops from the bases in the US to ports in southern South Korea and even longer to get them north to where they’d be in a fight with North Korea, said Hertling, who participated in those kinds of simulations on the Korean Peninsula.Hertling also said at least two US Navy aircraft carrier strike groups would need to be in the waters near Korea before any US attack.Carl Schuster, a former director of operations at the US Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center, said there should be even more US firepower.”As a planner, I’d rather have three carriers than two,” plus additional Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps fighters, said Schuster, now a Hawaii Pacific University professor.Schuster also said the US would need to ensure it had enough bombs, missiles and electronic warfare planes to destroy or disable North Korea’s air defenses before the heavy bombers needed to strike North Korea’s fortified nuclear weapons sites could be sent in. Reinforcements for those aircraft would likely have to be dispatched to Guam or Japan.Hertling said much of what the US would need may not even be stationed in the US, but deployed in current military campaigns against ISIS in the Middle East or the Taliban in Afghanistan.All that being said, Schuster said it wouldn’t be surprising to see some US assets moving nearer to the Korean Peninsula in the next few days, maybe a carrier group into waters close to Japan, another guided-missile submarine port call in South Korea, or more US Air Force bombers moving to Guam or Okinawa.But these would be defensive in nature and more of a warning to Pyongyang rather than indications that a US strike was imminent, he said.As well as that, he said he expects US diplomats to be more visible, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has been visiting countries in Southeast Asia this week.”This will force Tillerson to be a bit more visible,” Schuster said of comments by Trump on Tuesday that North Korea will see the US’s „fire and fury.”„He’s going to get a lot of questions of what our intentions are,” Schuster said.Schuster also said he doesn’t expect any North Korean attack on Guam or any place else, saying Kim Jong Un’s threats are mostly bluster.”Kim’s actions are macho within some concise constraints,” he said.One, North Korea’s missiles are untested in actual battle and their accuracy is far from certain, he said.Two, „the US could retaliate in a fashion Kim couldn’t withstand,” meaning the end of the Kim regime, he said. „He does not want to provoke us into something that would remove him from the scene.”But Kim is a wily operator and knows what he can get away with, so another missile test or large-scale artillery exercises in North Korea wouldn’t be surprising, added Schuster.”Launching a missile at Guam is not something he can get away with. Launching a test missile sends the same message domestically and internationally,” said Schuster.And another missile test is far short of war. As Schuster points out: „There’s a big gap between bombast and action.”
Reuters European shares fall on Paris incident, North Korea worries Reuters Wed, Aug 9 1:44 AM PDTBy Helen Reid LONDON (Reuters) – European shares fell back on Wednesday, with all major benchmarks in the red after a car hit a group of soldiers in a Parisian suburb in what was said to be a deliberate act.The falls followed U.S. and Asian market declines after North Korea said it was considering plans to attack Guam, which has a large U.S. military base.Strong results from Scout24 and Novo Nordisk lifted those shares, but the pan-European STOXX 600 extended early losses to fall 0.7 percent. Euro zone stocks and blue-chips dropped 1 percent.France’s CAC 40 extended losses to hit a session low, down 1.2 percent after the car incident in Paris..Germany’s DAX was also down 1.1 percent as bond yields fell.Gold miners Randgold Resources and Fresnillo were among the only gainers on the FTSE, up 1.9 to 2.3 percent as investors rushed to the safety of gold.Banks meanwhile suffered heavy losses, down 1.2 percent.Results also drove some sharp moves lower.Chemicals group Brenntag led fallers, down 5.5 percent after second quarter results undershot expectations. „M&A seems to be the main driver while organic growth remains unsatisfying,” said Baader Helvea analysts.G4S shares fell 4.7 percent despite the security group reporting first-half profit up 7.6 percent and saying its turnaround was on track. Stifel analysts pointed to operating cashflow being weaker year-on-year.German flavours and fragrance maker Symrise fell 3.6 percent, with analysts pointing to margins missing estimates.Overall, results season has been strong, analysts and investors said. Earnings growth for the MSCI Euro zone companies reporting this quarter is tracking at 15.7 percent, with 76 percent of results in so far.”I still think there’s more good news than bad news [in results] because you’re still seeing underlying economies growing at a decent clip,” said Andrew King, head of European equities at BNP Paribas Asset Management.”On a longer term view you’re now starting to see a break with the history of constant earnings downgrades,” he added.Scout24 was a stand-out performer, jumping 6.6 percent to a seven-month high after the German online classifieds company said it had won back customers in the second quarter. Its shares had fallen sharply after a broker downgrade last week.The healthcare sector outperformed thanks to strong gains from the world’s top maker of diabetes drugs, Novo Nordisk, up 3.9 percent after beating second-quarter profit forecasts.Dutch oil firm SBM Offshore gained 4.7 percent, on track for its best day in more than a year, after its first-half results beat expectations with higher investments in deep sea projects.(This story has been refiled to reflect July name change to BNP Paribas Asset Management from BNP Paribas Investment Partners, paragraph 13.)(Reporting by Helen Reid; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)
Russian surveillance plane creates buzz in Washington DEB RIECHMANN,Associated Press Wed, Aug 9 4:07 PM PDT Scroll back up to restore default view.WASHINGTON (AP) — A low-flying Russian airplane created a buzz in the nation’s capital on Wednesday, but it turns out the surveillance flight over the Capitol, Pentagon and other sites was cleared by the U.S. government under a long-standing global treaty.The flight, which was filmed by The Associated Press, was permitted under the Open Skies Treaty.Russia and the United States are signatories to the treaty, which allows unarmed observation flights over the entire territory of all 34 member nations. The flights are intended to foster transparency about military activity, reduce mistrust or misunderstandings and help monitor arms control and other agreements.Dan Gaffney, a spokesman for the Pentagon, said he could not confirm the path of the plane until its mission was over. „A typical mission has several segments (flights) taking place over a few days,” Gaffney said.But the U.S. Capitol Police issued a heads-up, saying an „authorized low-altitude aircraft” would enter restricted airspace over the Capitol between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. „The aircraft will be large and may fly directly over the U.S. Capitol,” the statement said. „This flight will be monitored by the U.S. Capitol Police command center and other federal government agencies.”Since the treaty entered into force in 2002, there have been more than 1,200 Open Skies flights. According to the Pentagon, the overflights are conducted by unarmed observation aircraft equipped with certain types of film and sensors that are certified under the treaty.The Pentagon says that before the flights, each state is given the flight plan of the mission and an escort team flies aboard the aircraft to make sure it complies with the treaty. After each flight, the host nation gets a copy of any imagery taken by the observation aircraft.Senior U.S. intelligence and military officials have expressed concern that Russia is taking advantage of technological advances to violate the spirit of the treaty.Steve Rademaker, former assistant secretary of state for the bureau of arms control and the bureau of international security and nonproliferation, told Congress in past hearings that Russia complies with the Open Skies Treaty, but has adopted measures that are inconsistent with the spirt of the accord.The treaty, for instance, obligates each member to make all of its territory available for aerial observation, yet Rademaker said Russia has imposed restrictions on surveillance over Moscow and Chechnya and near Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two breakaway regions of Georgia now under Russian control.