MOSCOW – Pyongyang’s latest ballistic missile launch aims to enhance security on the Korean Peninsula, North Korean Ambassador to Russia Kim Hyun Joong said Thursday.
On Sunday, North Korea carried out a successful test of its Pukguksong-2 intermediate-range ballistic missile. The Pukguksong-2 can carry a nuclear payload, and has an estimated operational range of up to 2,000 km (1,200 miles).
“The successful test launch… is a measure aimed at enhancing the country’s sovereignty, as well as the peace and security of the Korean Peninsula, in connection with the growing nuclear threat from the US,” Kim said.
Speaking at an event organized to commemorate the 75th birth date of the late leader Kim Jong Il, the North Korean diplomat said Pyongyang intended to “further strengthen our defense capacity, strengthen the nuclear forces as long as the US nuclear threat and blackmail continues.”
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi
Iran says Israel’s atomic weapons arsenal represents the biggest threat to world peace, dismissing new allegations by Israeli and US leaders against Iran’s nuclear program as “hollow” and “worthless”.
The reaction on Thursday came a day after US President Donald Trump called Iran’s nuclear program a threat to Israel during a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.
“The statements did not contain any new point except being a repetition of hollow and worthless allegations against Iran’s peaceful nuclear program,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said.
Terming the nuclear deal with Iran as “the worst” agreement ever, Trump pledged to impose new sanctions on Iran to prevent the country from what he called developing a nuclear weapon.
Qassemi said, “Such claims are repeated while the International Atomic Energy Agency, in its reports, has time and again confirmed Iran’s nuclear program as peaceful – a fact which has been verified many times by different countries.”
“The bitter truth is that these remarks and inadmissible allegations are repeated by a regime which is not committed to any international law and convention and has hundreds of warheads in its atomic arsenal,” he said.
Israel, Qassemi said, “is viewed as the biggest threat to peace and security in the Middle East and the world and its ponderous file of endless atrocities and inhuman actions against the oppressed Palestinian people and other neighbors is recorded in numerous UN reports.”
In their joint news conference, Netanyahu applauded Trump for his harsh stand on Iran which was slapped with new sanctions by the new US administration in violation of the nuclear accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
On Tuesday, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano confirmed that Iran was implementing the nuclear agreement under which Tehran has undertaken to scale back its nuclear program in return for lifting of the sanctions.
Qassemi said, “Nuclear weapons are haram (forbidden) from the religious standpoint, corresponding with the fatwa of the Eminent Leader of the Islamic Revolution (Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei) and have no place in Iran’s military doctrine.”
The Islamic Republic, he said, will seriously continue to pursue those components of its peaceful nuclear program which are validated by the United Nations Security Council within the framework of the JCPOA.
Under Resolution 2231, the Security Council has endorsed the nuclear deal, which went into effect in January 2016.
On his campaign trail, Trump threatened to annul the deal, which he has lambasted as “the worst accord ever negotiated” and “one of the dumbest” ones he has come cross.
Washington has taken a tougher line on Iran since Trump took office on January 20. Last month, the US said it had put Tehran “on notice” after the Islamic Republic tested a ballistic missile which is not prohibited by the nuclear deal.
The torture that detained Catholics in Northern Ireland allegedly endured at the hands of the British was on the scale of a “war crime” a Belfast Court has heard.
The case revolves around 14 men who were kidnapped by security forces in 1971 and subjected to so-called deep interrogation.
This included the “Five Techniques” that were to become standard practice for ‘War on Terror’-era interrogators.
The five methods were hooding, stress positions enforced through beating, sleep deprivation, food and water deprivation, and exposure to loud noise like radio static.
Legal action is being pursued in order to force a full inquiry into the allegations.
“It’s difficult to see how torture in the context one is talking about, people detained by the State in the circumstances they were, is any less serious than torture inflicted in a wartime situation,” the barrister representing some of the surviving victims told the court.
“Where one is looking at allegations of torture, which is an issue in this case, one is at the level of a war crime,” they said.
The internment was part of a mass arrest and detonation initiative conducted by the British Army dubbed Operation Demetrius.
Some of the victims were hooded, beaten, and even thrown out of an airborne helicopter, which, unbeknownst to the hooded men, was hovering only a short distance above the ground.
In 1976, the case went to the European Commission of Human Rights, which ruled that the British Army’s actions plainly constituted torture.
In 1978, however, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decided that, although the treatment was degrading and inhumane, it could not be classified as torture.
It was later revealed that the UK had withheld information from the court, including the authorization of torture by the highest levels of government.
I have never been overly sold on Owen Jones. From his platform at the Guardian, he has spent far too much time whining about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his failure to reach out to voters rather than using his rare spot in the mainstream media to help him to do precisely that.
But this news has knocked me sideways. It was announced yesterday that Jones is lined up to give a memorial lecture in April on behalf of the Jewish Labour Movement – the same group implicated in the recent efforts of the Israeli embassy to damage a Corbyn-led Labour party with confected allegations of anti-semitism. All of this was exposed last month in an undercover Al Jazeera investigation.
The Jewish Labour Movement was effectively shown to be acting as a front for the Israeli government’s efforts to oust Corbyn over a supposed anti-semitism crisis in the party. Israel hates Corbyn because of his long-standing position in support of Palestinian rights.
The announcement of Jones’ lecture was written by Ella Rose, the former Israeli embassy official who tried to conceal her past after she became the director of the Jewish Labour Movement.
She was one of those caught on Al Jazeera’s hidden cameras – in her case threatening to beat up black-Jewish Labour party activist Jackie Walker, who has been the prime target of these phoney anti-semitism allegations. None of this is secret history. I first wrote about the Jewish Labour Movement’s role in trying to subvert Corbyn back in September.
It is not even as though we can credit Jones with some kind of live-and-let-live attitude to free speech. Remember back in 2013 he pulled out at the last minute, and without warning, as a speaker at an important Stop the War rally to prevent British military intervention in Syria. His grounds? He had come under fire from the armchair interventionists because he was to speak alongside Mothers Agnes, a Syrian-based nun who was seen as being too pro-Assad. (The reasons Syrian Christians like Mother Agnes might support Bashar al-Assad were pretty obvious even then, but are blindingly so now.)
Mother Agnes pulled out of the rally to try to salvage it, but Jones continued to refuse to take part.
I criticised Jones then over his cowardly and irresponsible behaviour. Now he needs to explain how the principles that drove him away from the Stop the War rally can allow him to support a group, the Jewish Labour Movement, that is so clearly and maliciously attempting to subvert the elected leader of the Labour party.
Owen Jones has responded to this blog post both on Twitter, calling it “tedious nonsense” in his usual, dismissive style, and with a post here that tries to deflect attention from my argument with a straw man: that a conspiracy theory is painting him as a stooge of the Israeli government.
No conspiracy is being posited here – only very, very poor judgment. I have also not accused him of working on behalf of the Israeli government. Only of assisting, presumably thoughtlessly, those who are working on behalf of the Israeli government inside the Jewish Labour Movement, including most definitely its current director, Ella Rose.
Sadly, though predictably, he has avoided addressing the point of my criticism.
It is great that he wants to pay his respects to a friend’s late father, and I am sure there are responsible ways he can do that. But one of them is certainly not by adding his name and credibility to an organisation that was recently exposed by an undercover investigation to have been acting as a front for Israeli government efforts to subvert the elected leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.
The Jewish Labour Movement has been working to confect allegations of anti-semitism against other Labour party members. That is a serious form of verbal violence against members of Jones’ own party that has the power to do its victims great harm, personally and professionally.
Let’s not also forget, as I pointed out, that Ella Rose, who will be hosting Owen Jones’ lecture, was filmed threatening physical violence against a fellow Labour party member, Jackie Walker.
I was astounded that Jones accepted this offer from the Jewish Labour Movement. I am even more astonished that he is so casually dismissive of the very real harm caused by the actions of this organisation and its leaders.
Depressing to see that Owen Jones has now retweeted approvingly a conspiracy theory against critics like me. Apparently we are CIA-funded. Paradoxically, in Jones’ original response, he accused his critics of being “conspiracy theorists”.
One should be quite skeptical about the “leaks” coming from “unnamed officials,” former FBI agent Coleen Rowley has warned since its common practice to spread misinformation through “journalists, who are cozy with the CIA and other top officials.”
The media’s reaction to the so-called “leaks” on alleged connections between Trump’s team and Russia shows that we live in a “very surreal moment,” since the same people who have been calling for prosecutions and even executions of the well-known whistleblowers are now praising as heroes those “unnamed officials” who leak information of questionable authenticity, Coleen Rowley told RT.
“It’s surreal to have called for the death and prosecutions of Manning, and Snowden and Julian Assange and many other whistleblowers. And you had many people piling on, calling them traitors and they were actually very good whistleblowers. And now, when you have other leaks the same people who thought they were traitors are saying they are heroes for giving out this information,” Rowley said.
It is essential to be able to distinguish between a real whistleblower and leaker, since the former are motivated by a desire to do society a service, uncovering wrongdoings of the government, while the latter pursue their own agenda and might even plant completely fabricated information.
“The motivation of the person disclosing the information greatly matters. It’s actually what distinguishes a whistleblower from a leaker and even from someone like Scooter Libby who was planting false information. And these things all got blurred together,” Rowley told RT.
Leaks are powerful tools in information warfare, which is waged to fuel real wars across the globe by a part of the US establishment in cooperation with the powerful military, industrial and surveillance complex, which simply needs to sell their products. The useful misinformation is routinely being spread through “journalists, who are cozy with the CIA and other top officials,” Rowley believes.
“The most pernicious aspect is that this is now information warfare, which is now geared towards… launching more wars. It’s exactly where we were back when Scooter Libby went to the New York Times and planted the false information about the [Saddam Hussein’s] uranium tubes,” Rowley said.
“I think that is the worst aspect of what is going on, and I think it’s accomplished in a lot of different ways. We need to reduce secrecy, but we need to be able to weigh and analyze the real truthful evidence that’s out there. Right now we have leaks, but we still haven’t seen any documents. The public still doesn’t know the full truth of this.”
The situation is quite alarming, since military industry hawks, craving wars have formed an “unholy alliance” with the Democrats, who want revenge for Hillary Clinton’s loss in the presidential elections, Rowley said. Such an alliance harms both international security and the power structure in the US.
“We’re living in this moment when we have a polarized government in Washington DC, extremely polarized. The media has taken sides with the Democrats and actually some of the neo-con warmongers. It’s really an unholy alliance,” Rowley said.
“It’s debatable as to who’s actually in power right now. We’re supposed to have three equal and separate branches, but I think it’s a good question as to whether the executive, as you know would be Trump’s administration, or the legislative along with the deep-state, which includes the media. I don’t know who’s actually in power.”
Venezuela’s National Telecommunications Commission, CONATEL, announced plans Wednesday to begin sanctioning procedures against CNN en Español for its “direct aggression against the Venezuelan people and state.”
The announcement was made in response to a CNN en Español report released last week suggesting that the Bolivarian government “may have given passports to people with ties to terrorism.” More specifically, the report alleges that Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami is linked to 173 people from the Middle East, including some connected to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
“As part of its traditional interventionist and imperialist policy, this U.S. agency abrogates extraterritorial powers that blatantly violate basic principles of international law,” CONATEL wrote in a statement.
“It (CNN en Español) has the ignoble and Machiavellian purpose of undermining the image of the National Executive Branch and, therefore, institutionality, governance, and stability of the country, as well as the Bolivarian Revolution, a socio-political project contrary to its interests of domination.”
CONATEL’s statement, which points out that CNN en Español’s allegations are based on unsubstantiated evidence, urges journalists around the world to launch an independent investigation of the report.
The statement also questions the validity of government “whistleblower” Misael Lopez’s claims that the government was “scheming” to sell passports and visas for thousands of dollars. Most of CNN en Español’s report is based on alleged testimony by Lopez, a former secretary of the Venezuelan embassy in Iraq who has strong connections with Venezuela’s U.S.-backed opposition.
Lopez is a close friend and business partner of Ana Argotti, a lawyer who defends violent right-wing activists facing charges for the opposition’s “La Salida” campaign. This was the campaign that left 43 people dead and over 800 injured from street blockades known as “guarimbas.”
“Lopez is an agent infiltrated by the Venezuelan opposition based in the United States,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez confirmed Wednesday, AVN reports.
The Bolivarian Revolution’s battle against fake news has intensified within the last few days.
On Monday, the U.S. placed El Aissami on a sanctions list reserved for “drug kingpins,” without offering any evidence or issuing any criminal charges. The U.S. government based their decision on CNN en Español’s report as well as other unsubstantiated claims parroted by mainstream media outlets.
Last week, the Miami Herald published a story claiming that Venezuelans are killing and eating flamingos amidst food shortages, citing unsubstantiated claims made by a biology student.
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro says CNN is an “instrument of war” after his country pulls the network’s Spanish-language channel off the air.
During a televised Wednesday speech, Maduro claimed that the channel had been spreading “propaganda” over an alleged visa racket at the country’s embassy in Iraq, while adding that the channel was an “instrument of war in the hands of real mafias.”
He also warned US President Donald Trump to “open his eyes and ears” in the face of an “incorrect policy” adopted by CNN and the US State Department, which he said were “promoting a general, massive intervention and aggression against Venezuela.”
Earlier, the Venezuelan government issued a statement, announcing that the country’s National Telecommunications Commission had ordered “the immediate suspension of CNN Spanish broadcasts.”
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez also stressed that the government had “ordered the relevant authorities to take action” against the channel.
She added that the February 6 report was “based absolutely on falsehoods,” and that the channel “has launched an operation of psychological warfare, a war propaganda operation.”
She also referred to one of the report’s sources, embassy employee Misael Lopez, as a “delinquent.”
The report also claimed that new Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami was behind the racket. Aissami was also recently sanctioned by the US Department of Treasury over alleged drug trafficking into the United States.
Meanwhile, Carlos Lauria, CNN’s senior program coordinator for the Americas, called on Maduro “to stop interfering with the work of the press.”
The suspension of CNN en Espanol, which allegedly generates “a climate of intolerance” and threatens “the peace and democratic stability” of the people of Venezuela is effective immediately starting on Wednesday on all “national territory,” CONATEL said on Wednesday, accusing the channel of “aggression” against Venezuela.
The commission also urged other media actors to offer the Venezuelan people timely and impartial information that corresponds to the values of the Venezuelan society and fulfills the constitutional guarantees of free communication.
The Venezuelan government reportedly launched an investigation into the work of the CNN en Espanol channel in August 2015, accusing it of spreading false reports on violence in the country.
The news comes as US President Donald Trump called CNN “fake news” and refused to give their reporter a question at a press event after the broadcaster had helped to fuel false rumors he had hired prostitutes at a Moscow hotel and engaged in lewd behavior.
The network that markets itself as centrist relief from hyper-partisan outlets Fox and MSNBC aired an uncorroborated, unverified report alleging that Russians had obtained compromising information on Trump. The report originated from a former UK intelligence operative, according to CNN and BuzzFeed, the first outlets to publicize the reports.
Following the national and global embarrassment, CNN desperately tried to distance itself from BuzzFeed. CNN claims their reporting of Russia potentially having compromising financial or personal information against Trump is part of its honorable First Amendment duty of “informing the people of the inner workings of their government.”