By special contributor Stingray
The French navy just announced that it will temporary take nuclear devices off its aircraft carrier. The move is seen by many European military analyst as paving the way for operations in ASEAN waters-particularly the Gulf of Thailand.
ASEAN has declared the area a no-nuclear area.
Thailand and Cambodia are in dispute over many land and ocean based territories, with Cambodia recently granting French oil firm Total Oil the right to explore oil and gas in a disputed territory with Thailand in the Gulf of Thailand.
The disputed area was reported by the World Bank as having great reserves.
Thailand’s terrorism suspect foreign minister, Kasit, told local Thai press that an agreement has been reached between Thailand and Cambodia to jointly map the ocean floor in the disputed territory.
Thailand’s foreign ministry have issued a statement saying Cambodia will restrict Total Oil from exploring in the disputed area. There has been no confirmation of this from the Cambodian side, at this point.
Thailand and Cambodia have also made statements that they will reduce tension along a disputed land area of Phra Viharn Temple. Yet foreign intelligent sources in Cambodia reports that the Thais have actually increased its forces along the border.
Negotiations between the two countries have failed before as nationalism took hold in both countries. Currently the political situation in both Thailand and Cambodia is necessitating that both government fan nationalism.
France maintains a strong logistical naval support infrastructure in the Indian Ocean, and Thai military analyst says it will take a France naval task force about 5 weeks to reach the Gulf of Thailand. Thai analyst says in fact the French navy is second only to the US in a global reach.
However, much of that reach is for nuclear warfare and related operation and not in conventional naval operations.
The Thai navy is highly modern with a small aircraft carrier and its naval wing is equipped with the latest anti-ship missiles. The Thai airforce is also one of the most advance in the region with cutting edge US medium-range anti-aircraft missiles. However, Thai naval vessels are lightly protected against anti-ship missiles.
Intelligence sources have said that Cambodia has been quietly modernizing its equipment stack. Earlier, the Cambodian high command said to very senior Thai officiasls that it was prepared to throw about 10,000 battle hardened troops against the Thai forces.