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International Community Starts Call for US to Ban All Nuclear Explosions

Sputnik – 21.10.2017

For over 20 years, the US has been signatory but not party to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), a 1996 UN ban on all nuclear explosions, for any purpose. With nuclear weapons back in the international spotlight, nonproliferation advocates have called on the US Senate to at last ratify the treaty.

Six of the nine nuclear states have not passed the CTBT: China, India, Israel (although Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons), North Korea, Pakistan and the United States. France, Russia and the United Kingdom are the only nuclear states to have signed and ratified the treaty — but the treaty can only go into effect when all 44 Annex 2 countries, nations that had or were researching nuclear power, ratify the treaty. In addition to the six nuclear state holdouts, Egypt and Iran are also Annex 2 states that have not ratified. The other 36 have done so.

Hans Blix, who once headed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), expressed skepticism that the US would ever pass the treaty, because Washington wished to keep “freedom of action for the United States.” He pushed for the US Senate to ratify the treaty, as it was signed by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Bans of nuclear tests “should be the least difficult of all arms control issues,” Blix said to the press on Wednesday.

​On Sputnik Radio’s Loud and Clear, hosts Brian Becker and Walter Smolarek spoke to two prominent figures in the nonproliferation movement: Greg Mello, the executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group, a nuclear disarmament advocacy organization; and Kevin Kamps, a radioactive waste watchdog with anti-nuclear power and nuclear weapon organization Beyond Nuclear.

Kamps chastised former US President Barack Obama and the Democrat-dominated Congress of 2009-2010 for not ratifying the treaty. “It’s not so easy to ratify a treaty,” said Mello. “You need two thirds, in other words, you need 67 [US Senate votes]. Complicating it is that there are some Democrats that are part of the ‘war party.’ Whenever an arms control treaty comes into the Senate, there the war party — in both political parties — wants to attach conditions: benefits to the arms contractors and to the nuclear weapons labs. They demand a very high ransom for ratifying any treaty, and so the ransom required for the CTBT signing was the resuscitation of the nuclear weapons establishment after its bad years after the end of the Cold War.”

Mello also discussed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) signed by the two largest nuclear powers, Russia and the US, in 2010. The treaty was meant to limit nuclear missiles, bombers and launchers. To pass it through the US Senate, Mello said, “the ransom required was basically the modernization and renewal of every single warhead and every single delivery system in the US stockpile, along with the factories.”

“So in other words, the Republicans, which held New START hostage, got everything they possibly could have gotten. To get that thing ratified, the cost ended up being so high that it can completely obviate the original purpose of the treaty, which was thought to be a step by some toward nuclear disarmament. But if you’re adding nuclear armament to get the treaty signed, then you can end up going one step forward, two steps back.”

“There’s a war party,” Kamps agreed. “It has its clutches in the United States Senate and it certainly has its clutches in the Pentagon. There are elements of our government, elements of our military that really like to have that option of nuclear weapons.”

They like it enough, Kamps goes on to say, to openly lie to the American people. “You know, from the early 60s until the early 90s, it turns out — we just found out from the National Security Archives a few years ago — that a lot of those underground [nuclear] tests leaked into the environment. Something like a third of the tests in the United States, a third of the tests in the Soviet Union, a third of the tests perhaps even in a place like China, were leaking through cracks and fissures — and sometimes even intentional venting of the radioactive contamination.”

“All the countries helped the others keep it secret for fear that their domestic populations would then start asking questions about their own nuclear weapons testing. The CIA, for example, helped to keep the Soviet and Russian underground test leaks quiet so that Americans would not ask any questions here about our own.”

Although the heyday of nuclear testing has ended, Mello claims that the tests continue in the form of subcritical tests. These are tests that use a very small amount of fissile material, such as uranium or plutonium, that cannot sustain a chain reaction. These “nuclear tests which don’t involve the significant fission yield are nonetheless nuclear tests just the same,” said Mello, “and they’re taking place in Nevada and also Novaya Zemlya [in Russia] and in the laboratories. With combining the data from these [subcritical] tests with computer models and very fast computers that are available to both countries, fast enough in Russia and plenty fast here, too, it is possible to get a lot of data and do a lot of nuclear weapon design.”

In other words, the superpowers stopped test-detonating monstrous bombs because advances in computer technology meant they no longer needed to. The US and Russia can keep their arsenals cutting-edge without exploding megaton-yield devices as they once did.

Kamps adds that there is a “trillion dollar nuclear modernization plan, under first Obama and now under Trump. They’re dabbling with new designs: new military applications, new military uses. It’s very dangerous, very problematic… we’re really in a race against time to try to abolish these weapons before they abolish us.”

October 21, 2017 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Red star over Nepal

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | October 8, 2017

The Communist Party of Nepal-UML led by KP Oli, Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) led by Prachanda and the breakaway Naya Shakti Nepal led by Baburam Bhattarai have announced on October 3 the formation of a grand leftist alliance for the forthcoming provincial and federal elections in Nepal on November 26 and December 7 under the new constitution. The polarization of Nepal’s fragmented political spectrum on ideological lines makes the forthcoming elections a watershed event.

In reaction to the unexpected development, the Nepali Congress is reportedly planning to assemble a motley coalition of right-wing forces with some smaller parties to counter the grand leftist alliance. Interestingly, the constituents of the right-wing alliance may include the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal, which was formed in April with the merger of six “pro-India” Madhesi parties on the advice of their mentors in India. Even more interesting is the prospect of the Hindu right-wing, cultural conservative and royalist Rastriya Prajatantra Party Democratic – a veritable clone of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party – joining the Nepali Congress-led alliance.

It doesn’t require much ingenuity to figure out that the leitmotif of the polarization into two grand alliances lies in their respective disposition toward India. The announcement of the formation of the leftist alliance on October 3 seems to have taken not only the Nepali Congress but Delhi also by surprise. The Nepali Congress is scrambling to come up with a credible contestation – conceivably, with some encouragement from Delhi.

The polarization in Nepali politics is a good thing to happen since it presents a clear-cut choice to the electorate. The blurring of the ideological divide through the period of democratization in Nepal had been a major factor breeding the politics of expediency resulting in instability in the past. The big question is whether political stability as such guarantees good governance and can deliver on growth and development. India’s current experience speaks otherwise.

To be sure, the Leftist alliance is ideologically motivated and can be trusted to be far more cohesive and capable of offering a stable government. It will be campaigning on the plank of social justice, egalitarianism and Nepali nationalism. The alliance hopes to secure a two-thirds majority in the new Parliament which will strengthen their hands to steer future amendments to the Constitution smoothly, unlike in the past. During the general election, 165 members of the National Parliament will be elected by simple vote, while another 110 will be appointed through a system of proportional representation.

Based on the performance of the two main communist parties in the elections for the constituent assembly in 2013 and this year’s local polls, the leftist alliance has a distinct chance of winning a majority in the forthcoming elections. (The communists also have a strong party machinery all over the country.) If so, Nepal will be coming under communist rule – an unprecedented political feat not only for Nepal’s fledgling democracy but for the South Asian region as a whole. Importantly, based on the leftist alliance’s performance in the November elections, they intend to form a united Nepal Communist Party. It will be a big rebuff to the Indian establishment, which succeeded so far in splintering the Left in Nepal by fuelling internecine feuds and personality clashes.

These are early days but a communist government in Nepal will profoundly impact the geopolitics of South Asia. It is useful to factor in that Nepal took a neutral stance on the India-China standoff in Doklam. India’s capacity to influence Nepal’s foreign policies under a communist government will be even more limited. Equally, it remains to be seen how Nepal’s ‘defection’ from the Indian orbit might have a domino effect on Bhutan.

A ‘tilt’ toward China may well ensue under a communist government in Nepal.  The country may embrace China’s Belt and Road Initiative unequivocally. Chinese investments can phenomenally transform Nepal. And comparisons will be inevitably drawn with the neighboring impoverished regions of Bihar and UP, which are run by India’s ruling party.

The forthcoming elections in Nepal assume great importance for India’s neighbourhood policies under the Modi government. The right-wing Hindu nationalist forces mentoring the Modi government will have a hard time in accepting the prospect of a communist government ruling the abode of the god Shiva. Will they attempt to interfere in the elections? Any overt Indian interference risks  a furious backlash, given the pervasive anti-India sentiments in the country.

On the other hand, while the BJP is unable to tolerate a communist government even in the tiny southern state of Kerala, ironically, the Modi government may have to drink from the chalice of poison by doing business with a sovereign communist government in next-door Nepal. Read, here, an interview by Baburam Bhattarai, the well-known Marxist ideologue of Nepal, on the dramatic political developments in the country.

October 8, 2017 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

‘We need negotiations, not declarations’: Russia stays away from Trump’s UN reform plan

RT | September 18, 2017

As US President Donald Trump officially launched his 10-point reform program for the United Nations, Russian officials say they share many of the concerns it raises, but not the methods Washington is using to advance its solutions.

On Monday morning in New York, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Trump delivered speeches in support of the reform declaration, which has been endorsed by 128 states.

According to the published text of the plan, it would give Guterres greater executive powers “encouraging him to lead organizational reform,” which would “provide greater transparency and predictability” and “promote gender parity and geographic diversity,” while combating “mandate duplication, redundancy, and overlap” and other forms of inefficiency at the international body.

“In recent years, the United Nations has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement. While the United Nations on a regular budget has increased by 140 percent, and its staff has more than doubled since 2000, we are not seeing the results in line with this investment,” said Trump, who previously emphasized that the US is the biggest contributor to United Nations funds.

“To serve the people we support and the people who support us, we must be nimble and effective, flexible and efficient,” declared Guterres, the former Prime Minister of Portugal, who assumed his current post this year.

Countries that were hesitant or unwilling to sign the document – which include Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa – were not invited to the launch.

“There was no consultation either prior or following the publication of the declaration,” said Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s envoy to the UN, in an interview with TASS news agency, published Monday. “We are all for increasing the role of the UN on the international arena, and raising its efficiency. The organization needs reform, even if not a fundamental overhaul. But the reform itself should not come through a declaration, but through inter-governmental negotiations between members.”

State-owned daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta cited officials in the Russian delegation in New York, who criticized the US for hijacking the ongoing UN General Assembly for its own purposes, noting that the declaration “had nothing to do with the United Nations” and that Washington “has developed a bad habit of using the UN building during General Assemblies to push its own foreign policy agenda.”

Some were altogether suspicious of Trump’s motives, considering his previously dismissive attitude to the UN.

“Trump’s reform is a landmark move towards a unipolar world, and the reduction of the role of the UN in the international architecture that is forming in the 21st century. We are not ready to support or participate in this process,” Leonid Slutsky, the Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs in the Russian parliament, told RIA news agency.

“The US should start not with behind-the-scenes coalition-forming,” wrote Konstantin Kosachev, who heads in the Foreign Affairs Committee in the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, the Federation Council, on his Facebook page. “Instead, it should begin by acknowledging its mistakes, when it bypassed the UN in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and Syria.”

September 18, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Iran nuclear deal becomes an atomic cocktail

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | September 14, 2017

The unscheduled trip to Russia by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as the special envoy of President Hassan Rouhani and his meeting with President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday can be seen as indicative of an inflection point arising in regional and international security. There is growing concern that the Trump administration could be moving in the direction of reopening the US-Iran nuclear deal of July 2015.

During the campaign for the November election, candidate Trump disdainfully threatened to tear up the Iran accord. But as president, he has twice already certified to the US Congress that Iran is implementing its part of the deal. He is obliged to do it a third time by mid-October. Of course, Trump is not a stickler for consistency. He promised to wind up the Afghan war, but approved a strategy for open-ended war. Increasingly, he has exposed himself to be a man of straw.

All indications are that he doesn’t have the courage to upfront abandon the deal. So long as Tehran continues to observe the terms of the deal, Trump lacks an alibi to jettison it. Yet, he wants to resuscitate the sanctions regime of the past era so that Iran is deprived of the tangible benefits accruing to it legitimately under the nuclear deal, especially, as regards its integration with the world economy. This is one thing. Besides, the nuclear deal enjoys the overwhelming support of the world community. On the other hand, Trump is surrounded by “hawks” on Iran. The Israeli lobby also keeps him on a tight leash.

Hence Plan B. The White House recently deputed Nikki Haley, envoy to the UN, to Vienna to sound out the International Atomic Energy Agency about renegotiating the terms of the 2015 deal. Specifically, the White House would like to extend the scope of the IAEA inspection to also include, apart from Iran’s nuclear establishments, that country’s military bases.

Interestingly, the White House’ choice fell on Haley to undertake the mission to Vienna (rather than Secretary of State Rex Tillerson). It speaks of the backstage role of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law. Clearly, Israel is manipulating the Trump administration. Israel is paranoid that for the first time since the 1967 War, it has lost its pre-eminence militarily in the Middle East. The US and Israel’s defeat in the Syrian conflict brings about a historic shift in the military balance. Simply put, Israel lacks the capability to stop Iran’s inexorable surge as regional power. What is unfolding is a high-stakes game for Israel.

Tehran has made it clear that it is not open to renegotiation of the deal. Specifically, it rejects the notion that its military bases should be opened to allow foreigners to “inspect”. Simply put, Iran is unlikely to allow the US and Israeli spies masquerading as IAEA inspectors into its sensitive military installations.

Now, all indications are that the US is softening up the resistance of its European allies to the idea of reopening the 2015 nuclear deal. If past history is any evidence, it is a matter of time before the UK, France and Germany (who were part of the P5+1 negotiating with Iran) fall in line. Tillerson has called a meeting of his counterparts from the P5+1 and Iran for a meeting in New York on September 20 to broach the subject. A defining moment is approaching – least of all that Tillerson for the first time comes face to face with Zarif.

For Iran, the role of Russia and China will be of crucial importance. China may become wobbly when its self-interest is likely to be affected. The point is, all this ultimately would go into the alchemy of the ‘new type of relationship’ China hopes to work out with Trump. Also, Kushner happens to be Beijing’s point person in the White House. (China’s State Councilor Yang Jiechi met him Wednesday to discuss father-in-law’s state visit in November.)

After meeting Putin in Sochi, Zarif said that the discussion was “substantial and positive.” Zarif hinted that Russia also would agree that the 2015 nuclear deal is “non-negotiable and that all sides to the agreement must fulfil their obligations.” The situation developing around Iran will throw light on the ground realities as regards Iran’s integration into the Eurasian space. The Kremlin readout gave no details, but it stands to reason that given Russia’s quasi-alliance with Iran in regional politics, Zarif’s optimism is justified. Above all, Russia and Iran are working together as “guarantors” to stabilize the situation in Syria, as the latest development in regard of the de-escalation zone in Idlib in northern Syria highlights once again. To be sure, “multipolarity” in the world order is facing the litmus test.

September 14, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Moscow ‘preparing inevitable response’ as US hits Russians with new sanctions over N. Korea

RT | August 23, 2017

Moscow has fired back at the latest round of US sanctions targeting Russian interests, as Washington blacklisted one Russian company and four individuals for their alleged dealings with North Korea.

On Tuesday, the US Treasury revealed it had imposed sanctions on 16 Russian and Chinese nationals and companies for their alleged dealings with North Korea. The Treasury claims the sanctions are in line with the internationally agreed measures against North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons programs. The companies are accused of working with blacklisted individuals, helping develop the North Korean energy sector, help it place workers abroad or move money from abroad. As a result, their US assets are frozen and Americans are forbidden from doing business with them.

“It is unacceptable for individuals and companies in China, Russia, and elsewhere to enable North Korea to generate income used to develop weapons of mass destruction and destabilize the region,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

“We are taking actions consistent with UN sanctions to show that there are consequences for defying sanctions and providing support to North Korea, and to deter this activity in the future.”

Reacting to the sanctions, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov issued a statement expressing disappointment, and warning Washington that Russia was working on a response.

“Against such a depressing backdrop, the lip service from American representatives about the desire to stabilize bilateral relations is extremely unconvincing,” Ryabkov said. “We have always and will always support resolving our existing differences through dialogue. In recent years, Washington in theory should have learned that for us the language of sanctions is unacceptable, and the solutions to real problems are only hindered by such actions. So far, however, there doesn’t seem to be an understanding of such obvious truths.”

“Nevertheless, we do not lose our hope that the voice of reason will sooner or later prevail, and that our American colleagues will be aware of the futility and detrimental nature of further sliding down the spiral of sanctions.”

In the meantime, we are beginning to work out the inevitable response to this situation.”

The companies under sanction include Gefest-M, a Moscow-based firm accused of acquiring metals for a North Korean company, and Mingzheng International Trading, a Chinese and Hong Kong-based bank that supposedly conducted transactions on behalf of North Korea.

Andrey Klimov, a senior Russian senator, said that the US sanctions against Gefest-M and the others lack legitimacy.

“These sanctions are illegal in themselves, because the only thing recognized by international law is the sanctions of the UN Security Council,” Klimov told Interfax. “We must react in principle to this insane and confrontational policy. The toolbox is rich, let’s hope that we will act consistently, reasonably, professionally and effectively.”

Klimov’s words were echoed by the Chinese government, with a spokesperson saying Beijing “opposes unilateral sanctions out[side] of the UN Security Council framework.”

“We strongly urge the US to immediately correct its mistake, so as not to impact bilateral cooperation on relevant issues,” the spokesperson said, as quoted by the Financial Times.

At the same time, the US Department of Justice also filed two complaints to forfeit over $11 million from two Asian companies for allegedly laundering funds for North Korea.

The DoJ alleges that the two companies violated the international sanctions against North Korea and indirectly supporting its missile and nuclear weapons programs.

“The United States filed two complaints today seeking imposition of a civil money laundering penalty and to civilly forfeit more than $11 million from companies that allegedly acted as financial facilitators for North Korea,” read the statement.

Proceedings have been launched against Velmur Management Pte Ltd., based in Singapore, as well as the Chinese company Dandong Chengtai Trading Co. Ltd.

READ MORE:

US embassy in Russia temporarily halts issue of non-immigrant visas

August 22, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 Comment

A ‘new normal’ in South China Sea

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | August 16, 2017

India’s ‘Look East’ policy, which shifted to ‘Act East’ under the Modi government circa 2015, may now have to quickly shift again – to, say, ‘Watch East’. It will be on the one hand a judicious shift in tune with the rapid stabilization of the ASEAN’s relations with China and on the other hand a cathartic experience insofar as the rapid flow of events in the south-east Asian region holds some useful lessons for Indian diplomacy.

Looking back, the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s award of 12 July 2016 on the South China Sea (SCS) has turned out to be a turning point, opening a new page of cooperation between the ASEAN and China. A fair amount of ground has been covered in the past year with the hotline at foreign ministry level to manage maritime emergencies, the operationalization of the observance of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea, and the framework of the Code of Conduct in the SCS. Sourabh Gupta at the Institute for China-America Studies in Washington sums up:

  • In fact, every member of Asean, with the exception perhaps of Singapore, yearns for the success of Asean-China political relations – but not at the inadmissible cost of having to capitulate to Beijing’s unilateral and non-conforming sovereign rights claim to oil and gas resources in their respective exclusive economic zones in the South China Sea.
  • The current easing cycle, rather, will lend itself to a period of strategic calm in this critically important waterway. Without an agitated local claimant on whose behalf it can claim to be intervening to uphold the stability of the South China Sea, the US has few other tools at its disposal to assert its relevance and authority in this body of water other than to endlessly navigate its length and breadth.

No doubt, the announcement in Manila on Wednesday of a new “modus vivendi” or a new “way to get along” is in sync with the trend outlined above by Gupta. It appears that there has been a diplomatic breakthrough between the Philippines and China. “The Chinese will not occupy new features in the South China Sea nor are they are going to build structures in Scarborough Shoal,” Philippine Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana told lawmakers in Manila on Tuesday. Cayetano also said the Philippines was working on a “commercial deal” with China to explore and exploit oil and gas resources in disputed areas of the SCS with an aim to begin drilling within a year. (Reuters )

To be sure, when the “frontline state” that is Philippines leaves behind standoffs and brinkmanship with China, something has fundamentally changed in the SCS. There are lessons here for other countries having territorial disputes with China. The Philippine approach under President Rodrigo Duterte is strikingly similar to India’s under the leadership of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh – “compartmentalizing” different templates of the relationship with China whereby hugely beneficial economic engagement is possible without forfeiting the prerogative to uphold national security interests.

The East Asia Forum has featured a riveting analysis of Duterte’s policy by Prof. Aileen S P Baviera at the University of the Philippines, who writes,

  • By de-linking economic relations from management of the disputes, Manila can benefit from Beijing at a time when sustained high growth and investor confidence in the Philippines coincides with a massive investment drive by China as part of BRI… Duterte’s China policy shift also reduces disagreement within ASEAN over the handling of the disputes.

Of course, the success of the policy also depends on China. To quote Baviera, “China would have to downplay nationalist emotions and restrain military adventurism. This could give Duterte breathing space both for repairing relations with China and reorienting the US alliance towards more convergent objectives.”

Ironically, Duterte’s new thinking bears striking similarity with the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s policies toward China. Yet, Duterte’s political personality happens to have more in common with Prime Minister Modi than with Manmohan Singh. Like Modi, Duterte is also a strongman populist. Both thrive on polarizing domestic politics and both pursue controversial approaches to social problems. Neither can claim to have a sophisticated understanding of international affairs. But where Duterte leaves Modi miles behind is in his pragmatism to eschew confrontation and megaphone diplomacy to leave the territorial disputes as a stalemate and instead maximise the economic benefits of the China relationship .

These are early days, but according to reports from Hanoi, the Spanish drilling ship, which has been prospecting in the disputed waters in in Vietnam’s Block 136/3 last month, has left the area after pressure from China. Interestingly, according to reports citing a “diplomatic source with direct knowledge of the situation”, Hanoi’s decision to suspend the drilling followed the visit of a Vietnamese delegation to Beijing.

The big question is whether the tidings from Manila and Hanoi presage a “new normal”. Though the Code of Conduct between China and the aggrieved members of the ASEAN is not yet a done deal, a future order of the SCS based on international rules and norms seems a near-term possibility. The Global Times newspaper carried on Tuesday a “preview” of what a future SCS order might look like – based on principles of “equality”, “balance” and “openness”. Read it here.

August 16, 2017 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Africans will be biggest losers after letting foreign military into their continent’

RT | August 9, 2017

Africa has become a staging ground where foreign countries can show off their military capabilities against one another away from their country of origin at the expense of Africans, says African affairs expert Ayo Johnson.

Turkey is gearing to open its largest overseas military base in Somalia.

The United Arab Emirates are building a military base at the port of Berbera, in the self-declared Republic of Somaliland.

Africa is an attraction to foreign militaries: China opened its first overseas military base on August,1 in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa. Djibouti is also currently housing Americans, Japanese and French troops.

RT discussed why Africa has become so popular with the foreign military with Africa affairs expert Ayo Johnson who believes the world powers are turning the continent into the latest theater of military confrontation.

“Back in colonial days, we saw Africa being cut up and carved up by the Western nations. Now we are seeing Africa again being the center ground for the new verge of a proxy war because all these different countries which are founding military bases on the African continent. It is a huge worry,” Ayo Johnson told RT.

In Johnson’s opinion, “it is showing that Africans can’t protect themselves and it is also showing that Africans can’t control their own affairs and ultimately it is finders keepers.”

“We have China who already has a military base of its own, the excuse is that it ultimately wants to protect its own investment which we know it has on the African continent. Also, it says it wants to prevent piracy and to be able to launch against such events,” Johnson said.

“The Americans have similar bases, not to mention the Europeans. So, on the ground itself, ultimately the African continent is becoming the staging ground for the next possibly violent confrontation between the superpowers of the world in their so-called proxy battles,” he continued.

According to Johnson, such interest in the continent might be explained by its strategic location.

“The Horn of Africa is the gateway for many shipping lanes, the protection of that area because of long term standing piracy issues. But others would say it is about land grab, control; it is about influence.”

“The Americans, the British and other Europeans, not to mention the Chinese most recently, all seem to have a huge stake and might show their muscles and their military capabilities against one another. Africa has now become a staging ground from which they can exploit those opportunities away from their own individual countries, a place where they can prowess their military might at the expense of Africans,” Johnson noted.

Despite the increased foreign military presence, the problem of piracy in the region remains unsettled.

“One thing for sure is that piracy still exists and it will continue and is unlikely to stop or to be slowed down.”

“Again in terms of terrorism, Al-Qaeda and ISIS still have strongholds and control, influence in that part of the world and the military bases that are physically positioned there. If they are there to prevent such attacks, I think in the short term or more long term it could create antagonism, create a problem for locals who may want to join those organizations to attack the military powers that are there. So the protection of Africa becomes the reverse, becomes an area where everyone wants to show each other what they are capable of doing and that is the worry, be it terrorist or be it an American, European or even most recently the Turks are also considering having bases there,” he told RT.

Johnson claimed “that comes at the expense of every single African nation – ultimately the biggest losers will be every single individual on the African continent.”

August 10, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Siding with Washington on Korea May Be Dangerous

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 10.08.2017

In backing the latest US-led sanctions against North Korea at the United Nations Security Council, both China and Russia seem to have made a tenuous bet to resolve the crisis on the Asian peninsula. By deferring to Washington’s punitive sanctions, Beijing and Moscow are calculating that the US will relent on their proposals for comprehensive talks and a freeze on American military exercises with its South Korean ally.

China and Russia may regret their course of action. Since the imposition of new sanctions on North Korea last weekend, the tensions in the region have ratcheted up to alarming levels. US President Trump has even been accused of using «unhinged» language by members of Congress after he threatened to unleash «fire and fury» on North Korea «with a power the world has never seen before». Some American lawmakers were comparing Trump’s rhetoric with that of North Korea’s fiery leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korea, predictably, responded to Trump’s outburst by declaring that its leadership was considering a pre-emptive military strike on the US air base on the Pacific island of Guam.

The region is being put on a hair-trigger for war – a war that would certainly involve the use of nuclear weapons. The American side has come to the conclusion that North Korea has finally mastered the technology to fit a nuclear warhead on its already proven intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capability, reported the Washington Post this week. That means that if a military confrontation breaks out, the US will be tempted to use overwhelming force.

Trump’s words about deploying «power the likes of which the world has never seen before» are especially icy given the 72nd anniversary this week of the US dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

When the UN Security Council convened last weekend it passed Resolution 2371 unanimously with 15 votes to 0. It was a surprise turnaround by China and Russia. Last month, following North Korea’s ICBM test on July 4, both Beijing and Moscow rejected the US call for more sanctions on Pyongyang. They said then that sanctions policy doesn’t work and instead called for all-party dialogue to resolve the long-running Korean crisis. China and Russia also made the eminently reasonable call for the US and its South Korean ally to desist from their frequent joint war maneuvers, which the Communist North perceives as a threat of invasion.

Over the past few weeks, the US and China reportedly engaged in intense negotiations over the Korean issue. Trump accused his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping of not doing enough to rein in allied North Korea. The US also threatened to take punitive action against China over wider issues of trade and intellectual property rights. Before the weekend vote at the UNSC, Trump inexplicably cancelled a speech in which he was expected to lay out tough American actions against China over commercial disputes. That suggests some kind of bargain was done between Washington and Beijing – and that China voting for further sanctions on North Korea was part of it.

Following the unanimous vote at the UNSC, Trump and his ambassador Nikki Haley reportedly could hardly contain their glee over «the united response» against «rogue state North Korea».

What Russia gets out of it is not clear. Perhaps Russia felt that to veto the sanctions against North Korea would have incurred international wrath. But it seems curious that Moscow should go along with sanctions at the very same time that Washington is provocatively imposing similar measures against it too.

What appears to be in the calculus by China and Russia is that by giving a sop to the American desire to get tough on North Korea, they are anticipating that the US will agree to calls for multi-party talks and a freeze on military activities on the Korean Peninsula.

Both the Chinese and Russian ambassadors to the UN coupled the latest resolution for sanctions against North Korea with the reboot of the six-party negotiations involving the two Koreas, China, Russia, Japan and the US. Those talks were abandoned in 2009 when the US and North Korea broke off in recriminations.

Last week, before the UN vote, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made a significant speech in which he said that the US was not seeking regime change in Pyongyang, nor had any intention of going to war on North Korea.

Following the UN sanctions, Tillerson sounded a conciliatory note while attending the summit of the Association of South East Asian Nations in Manila. The summit was also attended by Chinese and Russian counterparts Wang Yi and Sergei Lavrov. Tillerson said the US was open to dialogue with North Korea if the latter stopped its missile tests. That appeared to be a significant concession from the US side towards resolving the Korean problem.

However, this is where the calculation comes unstuck. The backing of more sanctions against North Korea by China and Russia may have softened the stance of the US somewhat, but at what price?

From the North Korean side, the increased sanctions are tantamount to an act of war. The new measures are aimed at banning the country’s top export earning commodities, including coal, minerals and seafood. The new sanctions will reportedly slash North Korea’s annual export revenue by one-third, down to $2 billion a year. Not surprisingly, Pyongyang responded furiously, saying the sanctions were an attack on its sovereignty.

Given Trump’s propensity for Twitter diplomacy, the spiral of rhetoric could lead to disastrous misunderstanding, as this week is tending to show.

In retrospect, it seems astonishing that Beijing and Moscow made the bet they did over new sanctions. The damage cannot be undone. But what China and Russia must do immediately is to insist that all sides proceed to multilateral talks and the standing down of military forces. The onus is primarily on the US to stand down its military power in the region. It needs to cancel its provocative maneuvers with its ally in Seoul – due again later this month – and it needs to halt the ongoing installation of the THAAD missile system on South Korean territory.

It is misplaced for China and Russia to pander to the US over sanctions and to expect something by way of concessions in return. The arrogant Americans don’t know the meaning of concessions, they only perceive weakness and will move to capitalize on weakness.

By indulging American demands for more sanctions on North Korea, the danger comes from emboldening Washington’s hubris and its own sense of impunity. One would think that Russia, above all, should understand that dynamic given its own experience over the US confiscating diplomatic properties and slapping on ever-more sanctions.

What Moscow and Beijing should do as a matter of urgency is to never mind new sanctions on North Korea; they should demand that Washington removes its military threat against North Korea – a threat that has been looming since the end of the Korean War in 1953. Then all sides must open talks without preconditions for a comprehensive peace settlement on the peninsula.

Pandering to a bully is never a good idea.

August 10, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Russia, China call for freeze on both N. Korea launches & South’s drills with US – Lavrov

RT | August 6, 2017

Moscow and Beijing are against any missile launches carried out by North Korea and are at the same time calling on the US to halt military drills in the region, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says.

The statement comes following Lavrov’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, in the Philippines capital, Manila on Sunday. The ministers discussed the situation in the Korean Peninsula following the adoption of new sanctions on North Korea by the UN Security Council.

Lavrov said Russia and China have already suggested a roadmap to resolve the Korean crisis.

“Our joint initiative includes support of Russia’s proposal to create a roadmap for gradual restoration of trust and provide conditions for the resumption of the Six-Party talks. We have agreed to promote this concept in practice, including in the UN,” Lavrov said after the meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Manila.

Previously, Wang called the new restrictive measures against Pyongyang “a necessary response” aimed at “blocking North Korea’s nuclear missile development,” as cited by the South China Morning Post. He added that sanctions are not the “ultimate goal” and called for the resumption the so-called six party talks, as the situation on the Korean Peninsula “has come to a very critical juncture.”

“Sanctions are needed but are not the ultimate goal. The purpose is to pull the peninsula nuclear issue back to the negotiating table, and seek a final solution to realize the peninsula’s denuclearization and long-term stability,” Wang said.

Lavrov reiterated the joint Russian-Chinese initiative for “double freezing” which had previously been rejected by the US. The initiative, put forward by the Russian and Chinese foreign ministers on July 4, would freeze “any missile launches and any nuclear tests in North Korea,” as well as “large-scale military exercises by the United States and South Korea,” Lavrov said.

The Russian foreign minister also said that the new resolution seeks to bring the North Korean leadership to the negotiating table – the six-party talks – while the restrictive measures are designed to make Pyongyang curb its missile and nuclear programs in accordance with UN resolutions.

On Saturday night, the UN Security Council unanimously agreed to impose more restrictive measures on Pyongyang, banning exports of coal, iron, lead, and seafood. The move came in response to North Korea’s latest missile launches in July, which it, as well as South Korea and the US, claimed were intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests.

August 6, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Sabotaging Russia-US Relations for Good

By Federico PIERACCINI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 31.07.2017

The strategy that the American deep state intends to employ to sabotage once and for all the possibilities of a rapprochement between the United States and Russia has been revealed.

After months of debate over the bad state of relations between the United States and Russia, the G20 offered the stage for the two leaders to meet and start discussing the various problems facing the two countries. In the days following the summit in Hamburg, the Kremlin and the White House revealed that Putin and Trump met three times in bilateral talks to discuss how to improve relations between the two nations. The ceasefire reached in southern Syria is therefore intended as the first step in a new direction set for Washington and Moscow.

As was easy to foresee, the deep state did not like this prospect of cooperation, immediately unleashing the mainstream media on Trump, because repeated meetings with Putin at the G20 were apparently suggestive of some sort of collusion, as if the leaders of two nuclear powers cannot even speak with each other. Obviously uncomfortable with these meetings, the sabotaging of relations between Russia and the US has taken a new turn. The previous ceasefire in Syria, reached by Kerry and Lavrov during the previous administration a year ago, was sabotaged by the US Air Force’s bombing of Syrian troops at Deir ez-Zor, which killed and injured more than a hundred Syrian soldiers. This served to favor Daesh’s assault on government positions, hinting at some sort of cooperation between Washington and the terrorists. Moscow immediately interrupted any military-to-military communication with Washington, which included the ceasefire reached between Lavrov and Kerry.

This time the strategy seems more refined and certainly does not lend itself to military action. Following the incident in Deir ez-Zor, the bombing of the Syrian base, and the downing of the Syrian Su-22, any further US military provocation would be met with a harsh response from the Russian side, risking an escalation that even the US military does not seem willing to to risk. For this reason, it seems that an approach that relies more on legislative means than military power has been chosen.

The Senate has overwhelmingly voted to impose new sanctions, the primary purpose of which is to deny the US President the ability to end sanctions on Russia without Moscow first demonstrating good will to resolve points of friction between the two countries. The areas of disagreement include the situation in Ukraine and Syria, nuclear weapons, an end to the alleged hacking of US elections, and the supposed intention of Moscow to invade the Baltic states. Obfuscation, lies and misinformation seem to be the driving force behind the Senate vote. The bill will end up on Trump’s desk, and at that point he will have to decide whether to sign it or not. If he signs it, it will obvioulsy limit his autonomy.

With Trump’s latest move, it is difficult to know whether he directly ordered the CIA to stop funding jihadists fighting Assad in Syria, or whether it was an independent choice of the CIA connected with other plans of which we are not aware. In any case, it seems to have particularly agitated the deep state, which now sees its destabilization plans for Syria hampered, with Moscow left in full control of the Syrian state and its fate.

The role of the deep state, in addition to enriching its components through the military-industrial complex, is based on the continued need for the United States to have enemies (read my complete series in parts 123 and 4), which requires major investments in armaments and intelligence agencies, two of the fundamental components of the deep state.

The 4+1 theory, in military terms, refers to the four major challenges facing the United States, plus a fifth, namely: Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, plus terrorism. Having four powerful enemies – regional if not global powers – such as China and Russia, creates the necessary conditions for the United States to continue to justify its presence in volatile regions like the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. In all these areas, US attention is directed at one of these four challenges. The fifth danger, terrorism, acts as a corrosive that slowly erodes individual freedoms within the United States and its allies, justifying their continued presence in historically hostile territories like the Middle East under the guise of fighting terrorism, when in actual fact advancing their own geopolitical objectives. The bottom line remains the need for Washington to expand its own war machine over the whole planet, hoping to be able to influence every single issue with political, economic and military power or pressure. The end game is to prolong as long as possible the agony of a unipolar, American-dominated world order that is rapidly fading in the place of a fairer and more just multipolar world order.

American allies push for sabotage

With this latest Senate proposal, the deep state wants to eliminate the danger that Trump can exercise his own initiative to remove sanctions against Moscow and pursue the path of peace with Russia. A reconciliation with Moscow is viewed with particular suspicion by two main allies of the US in the region, that is to say, Israel and Saudi Arabia. There are no two other capitals that have more influential lobbies in Washington then Riyad and Tel Aviv. It is not surprising, then, that the American deep state, made up of many who are sympathetic to the Saudis and Israelis, views positively the sabotage of relations between Washington and Moscow. It is very likely that the Israeli and Saudi lobbies have spent considerable sums of money to push senators and congressmen to support this proposal.

Saudi Arabia and Israel have invested enormous amounts of money and political weight to the overthrow Assad, and the direction that the war in Syria is taking is likely to turn violently against them. Israel finds a Syrian state strengthened by alliances with Hezbollah, Russia, Iran, Lebanon and Iraq likely to render the Israeli hopes of controlled chaos in the region vain. Saudi Arabia, like Israel, is afraid of seeing the rebuilding of the Shiite axis extending from Iran to the Mediterranean through Iraq and Syria. It is a nightmare for those who hoped to oust Assad, control Iraq and ultimately subdue under their own power all of the Middle East region. With Moscow’s intervention almost two years ago, Syria’s Assad resumed a triumphant march against Daesh and jihadist terrorism, cleaning up much of the nation and reversing the negative trend that threatened to break down the Baathist republic.

A rapprochement between Moscow and Washington is seen as a danger by Tel Aviv and Riyadh, which is why hostile relations between Russia and the US has become a rallying point for an alliance between liberals and neoconservatives in the United States, along with takfiris in Saudi Arabia and Zionists in Israel.

Conclusions

This axis opposed to any kind of rapprochement between Moscow and Washington has found many sponsors in the European political system; that is until the consequences of these new sanctions were made clear. Trump reiterated that the US objective is to sell LNG to European partners by becoming an energy-exporting nation. One of the direct effects of sanctions on Russia is the prevention of Europeans from collaborating with Russian energy companies, thereby sabotaging the plan for the North Stream 2 link and probably even the Turkish Stream integrating into the European pipeline network. Political reactions in Europe have not been missed, and understandably irritation has reached boiling point (including Moscow’s). It would also seem that schizophrenia seems to be a distinctive feature of the politicians of the old continent. The Baltic states fear a non-existent threat of a Russian invasion, while Germany and Austria complain of American interference in their strategic energy plans, considering it unacceptable.

A divided and inconsistent West drowns in its own discordant decisions. Trump, stupidly, initially tried to placate the deep state by offering Flynn’s head to the highest bidder. This only served to worsen the situation, bringing Trump to admit an unwavering attempt to hack US elections on the Russian side. To complete this disaster, missiles were launched against the Shayrat Airbase in Syria on the basis of fictitious evidence of a chemical attack on Syrian civilians by the Syrian Arab Air Force.

All of these choices have worsened the initial situation of the presidency, which now finds no more cartridges to fire in order to withstand the pressure of its senators to approve new sanctions. Trump decided to bend the knee and obey in hope of obtaining some kind of concessions from the deep state. This did not work, and now Trump is struggling for political survival.

It seems clear now that the Republican senators are in some way blackmailing Trump: so long as he does not fully give up on Russian rapprochement, the huge electoral promise of eliminating and replacing Obamacare will remain just a dream, causing him major damage. In this context, Trump seemed less prepared for the Washington hawks, and seems to have lost this important political battle.

It remains to be seen how effective the deep state will be in sabotaging these attempts of rapprochement between Washington and Moscow. The effects may be exactly the opposite, as already seen in the many failures of Washington’s strategic plans. The neocons/liberals and their regional allies in the Middle East continue to weaken American security by renouncing a partnership against terrorism, which would certainly benefit American citizens in the first place as well as calm the situation in the region. But then again, chaos is always the first choice of the American deep state for the purpose influencing events by fomenting violence and thereby advancing strategic goals and objectives. We can only hope that this time they have overplayed their hand and that European allies, or the Trump administration, will try to survive this new sabotage attempt.

July 31, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Multi-polar World Arrives: Russia, China Face Down US Bully

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 07.07.2017

The United States’ hegemonic dominance in the world is heading to the exits. The decline in US uni-polar power has been underway for several years, in line with the emergence of a multi-polar world. This week, Russia and China showed important resolve to face down American bully tactics over North Korea. The confrontation suggests a turning point in the transition from American world dominance to a multi-polar one.

US President Donald Trump reiterated the possibility of military attack on North Korea while in Poland this week. This was also while Washington was hectoring China and Russia to join in a tougher response to North Korea over its ballistic missile launch days before – the former two nations themselves having recently been sanctioned anew by the US. Talk about American audacity and double think.

However, the crass arrogance shown by the US seems to have hit a new limit of tolerance in Moscow and Beijing. Both are beginning to demonstrate a loss of patience with the bumptious, insufferable Americans.

Reacting to North Korea’s breakthrough ballistic missile launch, Washington deployed its typical conceit, casually threatening to carry out a «retaliatory» military strike. Trump said he was considering «severe» options over Pyongyang’s «very, very dangerous behavior».

But Russia and China’s stance this time to the Americans had significantly stiffened. Both explicitly warned the US against taking military action against North Korea.

Moreover, Russia and China said that they would oppose Washington imposing further sanctions on the government of Kim Jong-un. The latter has already been subjected to six rounds of US-led sanctions.

In short, the American bully is finding that it is no longer able to dictate its unilateral way.

Addressing an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council, the Russian and Chinese ambassadors rejected the shrill American call for «global action to a global threat». Russian envoy Vladimir Safronkov stood firmly with his Chinese counterpart, saying that threatened American military action was simply not an option, and that a different policy was needed from the failed American one of slapping ever-more sanctions on North Korea.

One can imagine the exasperation felt within Washington of being bluntly told «no» to its invariable, self-anointed belligerence.

The alternative route being proposed by Russia and China was the «radical» one – radical from the American point of view – of diplomacy. It has perhaps taken the Russians and Chinese overdue time to reach this point. But what is remarkably apparent now is that they are asserting themselves against the US with increased confidence. And what they are asserting in this case is an eminently reasonable solution to the Korean crisis. They are calling for a freeze on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program in conjunction with the US freezing its constant military exercises on the peninsula, as well as withdrawing its anti-missile THAAD system. The next step is to then hold multilateral negotiations for a comprehensive peaceful settlement, without preconditions.

Such an eminently reasonable approach is anathema to the Americans. Because it negates their unilateral arrogance and self-righteousness to dictate terms.

This is a significant development, one that portends a new determination by Russia and China to confront the American bully head-on. For too long, Washington has gotten away with outrageous aggression, lawlessness, hypocrisy and absurd hubris, not just over Korea but on countless other international issues. On the world stage it behaves like a schoolyard bully, or perhaps more accurately that should be a street thug. Going around beating up other people, usually the weak, as it likes. Then when Washington feels particularly affronted about some perceived slight, it invokes international law and righteousness.

This week, what we saw over the North Korea missile launch and the typical American over-reaction was Russia and China saying to Washington: your days of self-licensing aggression and abusing international law are over; your American uni-polar hegemony is redundant.

Welcome to the multi-polar world forged largely by Russia and China where all nations must abide by international norms and law, principally the paramount pursuit of diplomacy.

Oh the shock to American arrogance to receive such a rude awakening.

The lawlessness of American «exceptionalism» is a theme that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been constantly hammering over the past decade. But it seems now that Russia and China are strong enough politically, economically and militarily to begin asserting and acting on the conviction that the days of American arrogance and lawlessness are indeed over. It is no coincidence that the firm Russian-Chinese opposition to American aggression over North Korea came at the same time that Putin was hosting his counterpart President Xi Jinping in Moscow, where both leaders hailed an even deeper Sino-Russian strategic alliance.

Moscow and Beijing censured North Korea over its 11th missile launch so far this year. They said it violated UN sanctions imposed on Pyongyang since it first exploded a nuclear warhead in 2006. Still, they sought to put a proper perspective on the event, rather than reflexively demonizing North Korea as the Americans never cease to do.

The intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launched this week by North Korea was not armed with a warhead but Pyongyang said it now has the capability to do so and to strike anywhere on the globe. The trajectory of the ICBM indicates that North Korea could now hit the US state of Alaska. That heralds a major breakthrough in North Korea’s military capability. Earlier this year, President Trump claimed that North Korea would never be allowed to reach that point. Well, it just did this week.

Nevertheless, Russia and China realize that the Korean crisis is a complex issue, not the simplistic narrative put out by Washington about a «rogue regime» threatening world peace. Moscow and Beijing are well aware that Washington is very much part of the problem, with its relentless military exercises and provocative threats to North Korea’s sovereignty.

Russia and China understand that the only reasonable solution is not reckless escalation, but a negotiated engagement by all sides, including North Korea, South Korea, the US, Japan, China and Russia. Past multilateral negotiations have come unstuck largely because of Washington’s high-handed imperious attitude. Winding down conflict on the Korean Peninsula necessitates the winding down of military forces by all sides, and a primary responsibility for that lies with the US, the external protagonist in the region.

As the Russia-China strategic alliance grows ever stronger heralding a «post-West» world order, as Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov put it, one which was dominated by American capitalism, the US petrodollar and its military machine, it seems unmistakable that both Russia and China have reached a practical limit of tolerance to Washington’s lawless arrogance.

In recent weeks, Washington has slapped more sanctions on both Russia and China, conducted provocative military incursions into their territorial domains, and continued to disparage them with media distortions. Washington possesses thousands of ICBMs, test-fires them all the time, and installs missile systems around Russian and Chinese territory. Washington has waged or covertly sponsored criminal wars across the Middle East over the past two decades, resulting in millions of innocent deaths and spawning of terror groups.

North Korea has attacked no-one, has an arsenal of perhaps 10 nuclear weapons and conducts its missile tests far from any of its neighbor’s territory.

Yet the lawless, mass-murdering Americans – the only nation to have actually dropped nuclear weapons on civilian populations – have the audacity to declare North Korea a threat to world peace and insist on the «right» to preemptively attack Pyongyang. And if Russia and China do not acquiesce to this American demand then Washington threatens to increase more sanctions on them.

The American bully is patently beyond itself from its own megalomanic despotism. But the big, crucial difference now is that Russia and China are moving to finally put this bully in its place. The multi-polar world has arrived. And the only «radical» thing that Russia and China are insisting on is that the US behaves like everyone else and abides by international law. That basic requirement is an indication of how lawless the Americans are.

Addressing bused-in supporters in Poland’s Warsaw Square this week, Trump declared with bravado that «the West [that is, the US] will never back down».

Well, we’ll see about that. As noted, the multi-polar world has arrived and America is being compelled to back down by an ascendant Russia and China who also happen to have world opinion on their side.

July 7, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

US rejects Russo-Chinese proposal to suspend drills in South Korea

RT | July 6, 2017

The US rejects a proposal by Russia and China to suspend joint drills with South Korea in exchange for North Korea freezing its nuclear weapons programs, the State Department said, adding that Washington does not see the activities as equivalent.

US drills with South Korea are not the same as North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters Thursday.

“These are all things that have taken place since the 1950s. So that wouldn’t change,” Nauert said, describing the drills as lawful and longstanding.

“We do these kinds of exercises and have relationships like this all over the globe. If China and Russia decide to come out against that, that is not going to change our position,” she added.

Moscow and Beijing have called on Washington and Seoul to freeze large-scale military exercises in an attempt to calm tensions on the Korean peninsula after Pyongyang test-fired a missile it said could reach the US mainland.

The US diplomatic offensive to pressure and isolate North Korea is still in its early stages, according to the State Department spokeswoman.

“We continue to believe that China can do a whole lot more to try to bring additional pressure to North Korea,” Nauert said, adding that China has “unique leverage” with Pyongyang because of the “strong trade relationship” between two countries.

One of the measures the US has proposed to other countries is to drastically scale back the number of North Korean guest-workers, Nauert said.

She also referenced last week’s decision by the US Treasury Department to sanction a Chinese bank that did business with Pyongyang, although she declined to say whether more such sanctions were in the works.

July 6, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment