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| GERMANY SIGNS THE ARTEMIS ACCORDS

Director General of the German Space Agency at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Walther Pelzer signing the Artemis Accords, on September 14, 2023, at the German Ambassador’s Residence in Washington. Germany © NASA/Keegan Barber
International consortium for peaceful space exploration gains a strong new partner

The Moon and Mars are the next big topics for exploration in the coming years. The USA is preparing the next steps towards the Moon and Mars with its Artemis programme. In order to become part of this important stage in space history, Member of the DLR Executive Board and Director General of the German Space Agency at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), Walther Pelzer signed the Artemis Accords on behalf of Germany. He was accompanied by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy, Executive Secretary of the U.S. National Space Council Chirag Parikh, the German Federal Government Coordinator of German Aerospace Policy at the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action, Anna Christmann, and the German Ambassador to the USA, Andreas Michaelis. The Federal Republic of Germany has thus become the 29th signatory to this initiative, which is being led by the United States. The Artemis Accords formulate principles for cooperation in the civilian exploration and use of the Moon, Mars, comets and asteroids for peaceful purposes.

“Germany and the United States have been successful partners in space for a long time. For example, German companies in the space sector are already central contributing to the Artemis programme. The German signing of the Artemis Accords gives a further boost to this joint endeavour to carry out programmes for the exploration of space. Thus, the Artemis Accords offer a multitude of new opportunities for industry and scientific research in Germany – and ultimately also across Europe,” explained Walther Pelzer on the occasion of the signing in Washington.

Long history of successful international cooperation

“I’m thrilled to welcome Germany to the Artemis Accords family!” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Germany has long been one of NASA’s closest and most capable international partners, and their signing today demonstrates their leadership now and into the future – a future defined by limitless possibilities in space and the promise of goodwill here on Earth.”

Political foundation for the peaceful exploration of space

Germany has a long history of successful international cooperation in scientific research and space exploration for peaceful purposes – both as a member of the European Space Agency (ESA) and more widely with its other international partners. In the spirit of this ongoing cooperation, the signing of the Artemis Accords by the German Space Agency at DLR strengthens the common goal of DLR and its international partners to pursue programmes for crewed and robotic exploration of space. The declaration of principles lays the political foundation for the peaceful, responsible and sustainable exploration of space within the framework of the Artemis programme. In particular, it reaffirms the importance of the universal framework established by the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 and the commitment to establish international rules and regulations in accordance with international law through a comprehensive multilateral approach. Germany will continue to advocate for the development of a binding international legal framework for activities on celestial bodies based on the United Nations (UN) Outer Space Treaties in the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), the central forum for the further development of international space law. The German signature of the Artemis Accords extends and deepens these close partnerships in space. Participation in the Artemis Accords therefore includes an exchange of ideas between the Artemis partners to strengthen the application of the UN Space Treaties in the context of activities on celestial bodies. This new partnership further advances Germany’s efforts in space diplomacy, which is strongly based on promoting international cooperation in civilian science and technology with all spacefaring nations.

| DEUCALION: A NEW EUROHPC SUPERCOMPUTER 

© FCT

Deucalion, the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking supercomputer located in Portugal, is now operational at the University of Minho in Guimarães.

Deucalion is a petascale system capable of executing more than 10 petaflops or 10 million billion calculations per second, supplied by Fujitsu Technology Solutions.  Deucalion is a unique EuroHPC supercomputer combining ARM A64FX processors and the Bull Sequana technology provided by Eviden,  the Atos-owned business in advanced computing. This makes Deucalion the first EuroHPC supercomputer based on ARM processors, thus paving the way for the European Processor Initiative (EPI) which aims to develop European energy-efficient microprocessors and accelerators.

Deucalion is the most powerful supercomputer in Portugal. Its computing capabilities will be made available to users in Portugal and throughout Europe, providing them with access to a new design that enriches the diverse and complementary set of computing architectures already made available by the EuroHPC systems.

Deucalion’s architecture makes it perfect to be used to advance research and development in a wide range of domains, for example in meteorology and climate modelling, fluid dynamics and aerodynamics, astrophysics and cosmology, as well as technologies aiming to improve energy efficiency of computing infrastructures. It will also boost innovation in domains such as artificial intelligence, personalised medicine, pharmaceutical/medicine design and new materials, firefighting, territorial planning, but also smart mobility and autonomous vehicles.

Deucalion is co-funded with a total budget of EUR 20 million from EuroHPC JU and FCT (the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology). Access to the computing resources of the new machine will be jointly managed by FCT and EuroHPC JU in proportion to their investments.

The supercomputer is hosted by the Minho Advanced Computing Centre (MACC) at the University of Minho, on the Azurém Campus in Guimarães, Portugal.

| VINCENT JAMIN APPOINTED ADMINISTRATIVE DIRECTOR OF EUROJUST 

Vincent Jamin © Europa.eu

The College of Eurojust appointed Mr Vincent Jamin as new Administrative Director of the Agency today. Mr Jamin is a French prosecutor by profession. He brings with him 25 years of experience in the area of criminal justice, ranging from assignments in the French Ministry of Justice (2003-2010) to several high-level positions at Eurojust since 2010. Before becoming Administrative Director of Eurojust, he served as the head of the Agency’s Operations Department since 2018.

As the Administrative Director of the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, Mr Jamin is responsible for the day-to-day administration and implementation of key organisational developments, such as the recent extension of Eurojust’s mandate and its comprehensive digitalisation efforts. He will take up his duties on 1 October 2023, serving a term of four years.

Eurojust is the EU Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, a specialised hub providing tailor-made support to prosecutors and judges from across the EU and beyond to effectively tackle serious cross-border crime

| EU COURT REJECTS CASE OF SYRIAN REFUGEES IN CLAIM AGAINST FRONTEX

A group of Syrian refugees who fled to Greece in 2016 were hoping to find safety and protection. But instead, they were sent back to Türkiye by a joint operation of Frontex and Greece, without having their asylum claims examined. They then had to risk their lives again to reach Iraq, where they have been living ever since.

They blamed Frontex, the EU agency that helps Member States manage their borders, for violating their fundamental rights and causing them harm. They sued Frontex for compensation, demanding more than € 136 000 for their losses and suffering.

But on 6 September, the EU General Court dismissed their case, saying that Frontex was not responsible for their fate. The court said that Frontex only provided technical and operational support to the Member States, but did not have the power to decide who should be returned or who should be granted asylum. The court also said that the refugees did not prove that Frontex’s actions directly caused their damage, as there were other factors involved.

However, the refugees claim that they suffered damage because of Frontex’s actions. They say that they had to pay for housing and furniture in Türkiye, for smugglers to take them to Iraq, and for living expenses there. They also say that they felt scared and hurt by their hard and dangerous trip to Iraq. But the court does not think that these damages came directly from what Frontex did. The court says that the refugees did not show enough proof that there was a clear connection between the damage they claim and the actions Frontex is accused of.

Frontex does not have the authority to decide who should be returned or who should be granted asylum. Therefore, it cannot be blamed for any harm caused by the return of those refugees to Türkiye.

| UK GOVERNMENT GIVES HORNSEA PROJECT FOUR OFFSHORE WIND FARM THE GO-AHEAD

Hornsea One is the largest offshore wind farm in the world and produces enough energy to power well over one million homes. Number of turbines: 174 Capacity: 1.2 GW © Ørsted

The Hornsea Project Four Offshore Wind Farm application has been granted development consent by the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero.

The application involves the development of the Hornsea Project Four offshore wind farm. This is within the western area of the former Hornsea known as Zone 4, under the Round 3 offshore wind licensing arrangements established by The Crown Estate.
Hornsea 4 is an offshore wind farm which the Danish company Ørsted is proposing to develop in the North Sea, approximately 69km off the Yorkshire Coast.

The Hornsea Projects are four record-breaking offshore wind farms which Ørsted are operating, constructing and developing off the East Coast in the North Sea.
These wind farms are a new generation of offshore power stations; further from the coastline than ever before, and at a scale which is a step-change in size from current wind farms

| INTERNATIONAL APPEAL TO IDENTIFY DEAD CHILD IN GERMANY

German police and INTERPOL are seeking the public’s help in identifying a deceased boy and to determine the suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.

The child’s remains were discovered on 19 May 2022 in the River Danube near Grossmehring in Bavaria, Germany, weighed down with a flagstone slab and wrapped in foil. It is not known how long the body was in the water.

The boy is thought to be aged between five and six. He was approximately 110 cm tall and 15kg, with brown hair and blood type 0.

The results of investigations indicate that he likely spent time outside of Germany.

To widen the investigation’s reach, and at the request of German authorities, INTERPOL has circulated a Black Notice to the Organization’s 195 member countries.

Black Notices are international alerts used to gather information and intelligence on unidentified bodies.

As part of the public appeal to identify the boy, key details of the Black Notice are now being shared, including facial reconstruction images and physical characteristics.

“Through this Black Notice, INTERPOL is calling upon the global law enforcement community to cross-check databases and consult open or unsolved cases,” said Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL Secretary General.

“Someone, somewhere knows something about this boy, making it equally important to release certain details publicly. Whether he was the victim of trafficking, abduction or violence, we are committed to mobilizing all of INTERPOL’s policing capabilities to identify him and help investigators shed light on his death.”

Members of the public, particularly those who remember a missing child whose characteristics and disappearance indicate a potential link to this case, are invited to contact the national police team in Germany should they have any information.

Since 2021, INTERPOL has been providing investigators with the I-Familia database, a global tool which helps identify unknown bodies through international family DNA kinship matching. For biological relatives who believe the boy could be a member of their family, national police once contacted can liaise with INTERPOL for international DNA comparison.

The case falls under the framework of the Identify Me programme and the public release of information contained in Black Notices to help unlock ‘cold cases’. Identify Me was first launched in May of this year in connection with on-going efforts to identify 22 suspected female murder victims, with more than 500 messages and tips received from the public.

https://www.interpol.int/en/Contacts/Contact-the-national-police-team-in-Germany

| IRAN ADMONISHED BY THE UN NUCLEAR AGENCY FOR PREVENTING SEVERAL INSPECTORS FROM CHECKING ON ITS NUCLEAR PROGRAM

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi ©Dean Calma / IAEA

The tough declaration was made in the midst of long-standing animosities between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is in charge of overseeing Iran’s nuclear program, which Western countries have long thought is intended to eventually create a nuclear weapon. Iran maintains that the program is peaceful.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi, said :

“The Islamic Republic of Iran (Iran), informed me of its decision to withdraw the designation of several experienced Agency inspectors assigned to conduct verification activities in Iran under the NPT Safeguards Agreement. This follows a previous recent withdrawal of the designation of another experienced Agency inspector for Iran.

These inspectors are among the most experienced Agency experts with unique knowledge in enrichment technology. They have conducted essential verification work at the enrichment facilities in Iran which are under Agency safeguards. »

« I strongly condemn this disproportionate and unprecedented unilateral measure which affects the normal planning and conduct of Agency verification activities in Iran and openly contradicts the cooperation that should exist between the Agency and Iran. »

The Governments of the France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States also released a statement :

« In direct response to Iran’s consistent and severe non-compliance with its JCPoA commitments since 2019, the governments of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom intend to maintain nuclear proliferation-related measures on Iran, as well as arms and missile embargoes, after JCPoA Transition Day on 18 October 2023. We have jointly notified the JCPoA Coordinator in that regard.

This decision is fully compliant with the JCPoA. It follows our attempts to resolve Iran’s non-compliance through the JCPoA’s Dispute Resolution Mechanism which we triggered in January 2020. Iran has refused opportunities to return to the JCPoA twice and has continued to expand its programme beyond JCPoA limitations and without any credible civilian justification. Its enriched uranium stockpile stands at more than 18 times the amount permitted under the JCPoA.

Our commitment to finding a diplomatic solution remains. This decision does not amount to imposing additional sanctions nor to triggering the snapback mechanism. We stand ready to reverse our decision, should Iran fully implement its JCPoA commitments.

| ANTI-TORTURE COMMITTEE URGES MOLDOVA TO ADDRESS PERSISTENCE OF INFORMAL PRISONER HIERARCHIES AND INTER-PRISONER VIOLENCE

Women’s prison cell in Moldova © Alexei Golubev( RFE/RL)

In a new report the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) calls upon the Moldovan authorities to take resolute action, without delay, to tackle the phenomenon of informal prisoner hierarchy and inter-prisoner violence and intimidation throughout the prison system, which they have failed to address over the years. (See the executive summary)

The report contains the findings of a visit carried out to the Republic of Moldova in December 2022 to re-examine the treatment and conditions of detention of persons held in prison.

The report highlights that the phenomenon of informal prisoner hierarchy and the resulting inter-prisoner violence and intimidation remains largely unaddressed and prisons still generally fail to ensure a safe environment for incarcerated persons. Once again, a high number of persons held in prison described to the CPT delegation the overall atmosphere of intimidation and violence created by the informal prison leaders and their close circles.

The situation of persons considered to be “humiliated” or “untouchable”, that is, those on the lowest “caste” of the informal prisoner hierarchy, remains a matter of serious concern. The CPT considers that it could be considered to constitute a continuing violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Further, the delegation observed a strikingly uneven distribution of prisoners within the establishments visited, a situation closely linked with the phenomenon of informal prisoner hierarchy; certain privileged prisoners were dwelling in spacious rooms or even small flats consisting of several rooms, with abundant equipment. The CPT recommends that prisoners be fairly distributed in cells and dormitories and be provided at least 4 m² of living space per person.

The report has been made public under the automatic publication procedure introduced by the Moldovan authorities.

| MBDA’S SPEAR-EW MOVES TO THE NEXT STAGE

The SPEAR-EW © Mbda

MBDA, the multi-national European group and world-leader in the field of complex weapon systems has received additional funding from the UK Ministry of Defence to accelerate the development of the SPEAR-EW stand-in jammer.

SPEAR-EW is a novel electronic warfare effector designed to confuse and suppress enemy air defence, protecting friendly forces and acting as a significant force multiplier.

The additional Rapid Design Phase funding will accelerate SPEAR-EW’s development, maturing all its key sub-systems, and perform mission and planning evaluation.

Chris Allam, Managing Director of MBDA UK, said: “SPEAR-EW will be a true game-changer for the suppression and defeat of enemy air defences. As we have seen lately, air defence networks are exceptionally hard to operate against with today’s toolkit: SPEAR-EW is the key that will enable allied air forces to unlock this challenge and gain air superiority”.

Dean Pask, Spear Senior Responsible Owner at the MOD, commented on the commitment: “By embracing collaborative partnering, agile methods, and strategic technology, we are steadfastly dedicated to ensuring that our front line commands receive critical capabilities in the most effective and efficient manner possible”.

The weapon’s electronic warfare payload is being developed by Leonardo and utilises the company’s Digital Radio Frequency Memory (DRFM) technology. This technology is mature, was proven effective in trials and will deliver the advanced sensing and electronic attack capabilities of SPEAR-EW. Operators will be able to use SPEAR-EW to jam enemy radar systems as well as deliver more subtle electronic warfare effects such as creating decoy targets to draw the attention of threat systems away from crewed aircraft or effectors.

Iain Bancroft, SVP Electronic Warfare at Leonardo UK, said: “SPEAR-EW will incorporate a world-class electronic warfare payload, designed and manufactured here in Luton, UK. Based on our experience providing on-board jamming capabilities for the Eurofighter Typhoon and, more recently, off-board jamming in the form of our BriteCloud expendable active decoy, our technology can reliably beat current threats while remaining adaptable for the threats of the future”.

SPEAR-EW utilises the same airframe as MBDA’s SPEAR miniature cruise missile being manufactured for the Royal Air Force. This commonality has reduced the development costs for SPEAR-EW and is also enabling a joint integration/launcher solution, reducing logistics burden and offering a high load-out potential.

| UNODC: METHAMPHETAMINE TRAFFICKING IN AND AROUND AFGHANISTAN EXPANDING RAPIDLY AS HEROIN TRADE SLOWS

The Taliban-run Agoosh drug treatment centre in the Afghan capital Kabul © UN News / Ezzat El-Ferri

Methamphetamine trafficking in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries is surging, with a drastic, nearly twelvefold increase in seizures of the drug in five years from 2.5 tons in 2017 to 29.7 tons in 2021, according to a report published today by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

UNODC findings further suggest that heroin trafficking has continued, although at a lower rate, after the Taliban returned to power in August 2021 and introduced a drug ban in April 2022. Methamphetamine trafficking, however, has intensified since the ban, indicating a rapid expansion of the drug’s manufacture and a possible reshaping of illicit drug markets long dominated by Afghan opiates.

“The surge in methamphetamine trafficking in Afghanistan and the region suggests a significant shift in the illicit drug market and demands our immediate attention. Regional coordination targeting the diversion and smuggling of chemical precursors is essential to stopping the continued expansion of illicit methamphetamine manufacture in and around Afghanistan.” said Ms. Ghada Waly, Executive Director of UNODC. “This new UNODC report aims to provide the international community with vital information to tackle the growing synthetic drug threat”.

Seizures of methamphetamine of suspected Afghan origin have been reported in places as far away as the European Union, the Near and Middle East, South-east Asia and Eastern Africa.

The report, Understanding Illegal Methamphetamine Manufacture in Afghanistan, analyses the different precursors used to produce the drug. Coverage of suspected methamphetamine manufacture in Afghanistan has often focused on the use of the ephedra plant, which grows abundantly in the region and contains ephedrines that can be extracted to make the drug. Although cheaper to use in the short-term, the large amount of ephedra needed, unreliable harvests and the intensive labour involved make it unlikely that the rapidly expanding methamphetamine trade in Afghanistan can depend on the ephedra plant alone. Common cold medications and industrial-grade chemicals are more efficient and cost effective for the manufacture of methamphetamine and thus pose a far bigger threat, the report warns.

Such chemicals are legally produced and traded in large quantities in the region and could be accessible to methamphetamine producers. The emphasis on ephedra risks undermining effective law enforcement responses, which need to be regionally coordinated and focus on preventing and curbing the diversion and smuggling of bulk chemical precursors.

Different regions and countries are affected by different levels of trafficking of heroin and methamphetamine. Overall, South-West Asia was identified as having a transshipment role for methamphetamine to onward wholesale markets, while South-East Europe maintains an important transshipment role in the trafficking of heroin towards the main market in West and Central Europe.

° The UNODC Drugs Monitoring Platform Brief on patterns and trends in heroin and methamphetamine trafficking from 2020 to 2022 for Afghanistan and neighbouring regions can be accessed at the following URL : https://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/briefs/Methamphetamine_Manufacture_in_Afghanistan.pdf

| NASA’s X-59 Moves Closer to Runway

Technicians check out the X-59 aircraft as it sits near the runway at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works in Palmdale, California © Lockheed Martin

The Lockheed Martin X-59 QuessT (“Quiet SuperSonic Technology”), sometimes known as the “son of Concorde,” is an American experimental supersonic aircraft being developed at Skunk Works for NASA’s Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator project.

One of the significant events that prepare the X-59 for its initial and future flights is the transfer from its production site to the flight line. The team will then carry out extensive ground testing to confirm that the aircraft is safe for flight.

NASA’s first purpose-built, supersonic X-plane in decades will soon take to the skies. A single pilot is to fly the 99.7-foot-long, 29.5-foot-wide aircraft powered by a single jet engine. Its design research speed will be Mach 1.4, or 925 mph, flying at 55,000 feet. In less than four hours, the aircraft could fly from London to New York.

NASA will use the experimental X-59 to provide data that could change the rules that ban supersonic flight over land by proving a sonic boom can be reduced to a barely-audible sonic thump heard on the ground.

© Lockheed Martin

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