SEATTLE – Dan Springer’s latest test launch over the weekend has raised concerns among U.S. officials. The Pentagon says the ballistic missile flew 1,000 miles higher than NASA’s International Space Station. It was then able to re-enter earth’s atmosphere and splash down just 60 miles from Russia. One official told Fox News it was a “big step forward” in North Korea’s nuclear missile program.
Emergency planners in Hawaii, the closest state to North Korea, have taken notice and are evaluating existing nuclear attack response plans. Meanwhile, another possible target on the West Coast is barred from taking any steps to plan for a nuclear attack.
Washington State allows evacuation plans for every disaster scenario except a nuclear bomb. Former state Rep. Dick Nelson remembers the prevailing thinking in the legislature at the time concerning response plans in the event of nuclear war.
“You are really sending a message that you’re getting ready to do something maybe yourself,” Nelson said.
The law passed in 1984, seven years before the end of the Cold War. It was the opposite approach taken by President Ronald Reagan, whose peace through strength doctrine helped lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
A current Washington state senator says the current law is irresponsible and naïve.
“I think it’s ridiculous and silly,” says state Sen. Mark Miloscia, “And sort of the head-in-the-sand mentality. If it has a probability of happening, prepare for it.”
Seattle could be in the crosshairs if North Korea’s leader, Kim Jung Un, ever did the unthinkable. Naval Base Kitsap reportedly has roughly 1,300 nuclear warheads — almost one-quarter of the U.S. arsenal — making it the largest stockpile of nukes in the world. The Puget Sound is also home to Joint Base Lewis McChord, home to the important Stryker Brigade. With the headquarters of Boeing, Microsoft and Amazon, the region is a high-tech hub. Read the rest of this entry »
Senators briefed at WH by military, intelligence officials.
WASHINGTON—The Trump administration said it is launching an urgent push, combining diplomatic pressure and the threat of military action in a bid to halt North Korea’s advancing nuclear-weapons program.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, one of those who briefed senators at a classified briefing hosted by the White House on Wednesday, also plans to host a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Friday, where he will propose international officials redouble efforts to enforce economic sanctions and isolate North Korea.
North Korea’s Missile Advancements
The State Department said Mr. Tillerson is considering harsh measures such as asking other countries to shut down North Korea’s embassies and other diplomatic facilities. Read the rest of this entry »
“I think that was a final slap at Israel by Obama on the way out the door. It doesn’t compare with abandoning Israel at the United Nations on the vote at the Security Council a week before. But nonetheless, this is, a lot of this is money that goes through agencies of the U N which support really awful stuff being done, particularly in Gaza — the propaganda, the Jew-hatred that is taught — but nonetheless it is unnecessary it is gratuitous. It is not going to be reversed, the money amount is too small relatively speaking.”
Obama, who is hoping to join Rockville’s Woodmont Country Club, drew ire from many of its Jewish members after failing last month to block a United Nations resolution condemning Israeli settlements, the New York Post reported late Tuesday.
“In light of the votes at the U.N. and the Kerry speech and everything else, there’s this major uproar with having him part of the club, and a significant portion of the club has opposed offering him membership,” an unnamed source told the Post.
The country club had planned to provide the outgoing president with a complimentary membership, which costs regular members an $80,000 initiation fee and another $9,673 in annual dues. A source said this was now unlikely following the administration’s handling of the U.N. Security Council vote. Read the rest of this entry »
Moran’s rebuke, which was first reported by Politico, might not be the only formal action taken by Republican leaders. Several Senate Republicans called for cuts to UN funding over the vote.
Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., plans to introduce a “sense of the Senate” resolution issuing the rebuke next week. The formal condemnation resolution would be the first official action against the U.N. by the Senate GOP in response to the Security Council resolution, which passed because President Obama refused to veto it.
“I am committed to working with both Republicans and Democrats to make sure we stand with Israel and that the United Nations cannot be used as a forum to create policies that hurt our nation and its allies,” Moran said Friday.
The Security Council resolution was long feared by Israel and their congressional allies, as rumors percolated throughout the fall that the Obama administration would countenance a condemnation of Israeli settlement construction in disputed Palestinian territory. Read the rest of this entry »
When the state of Israel was founded in 1948, it was done so with the approval of the United Nations. But today, Israel’s enemies routinely challenge the legitimacy of its very existence. So, under international law, who’s right? Israel? Or its enemies?
Charles Krauthammer has been clear in his disapproval for America’s decision to not veto the United Nation’s resolution on Israeli settlements. The syndicated columnist revisited this topic last night, saying that President-elect Donald Trump already knows how he can put the U.N.’s New York headquarters to better use than it is right now.
“I think it’s good real estate in downtown New York City. Trump ought to find a way to put his name on it and turn it into condos.”
On Fox’s Special Report, Krauthammer lamented that the U.S. provides so much to the U.N., yet the organization spends its time “trying to attack the only Jewish state on the planet,” instead of addressing international concerns like genocide and terrorism more. Read the rest of this entry »
Patrick Goodenough reports: Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. on Monday contemptuously dismissed White House deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes’ denials that the Obama administration played a key behind-the-scenes role in getting a resolution condemning Israel through the U.N. Security Council, describing him as an “expert at fiction.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government says it has “iron-clad” information indicating that the Obama administration had a role in the crafting and passage of the resolution that passed Friday in the absence of a U.S. veto.
Ambassador Ron Dermer told MSNBC the Israeli government had proof that it would share that evidence with the incoming Trump administration – which “can decide whether they want to share that with the American people.”
“We’re obviously not going to share it with this [Obama] administration because this administration is behind it,” he charged.
Asked about Rhodes’ denial of an administration role, Dermer replied, “Ben Rhodes is an expert of fiction
“Let’s just wait until all the evidence is presented to the new administration and they will decide,” he said.
And then you can invite me back on your show and you can see whether I’m telling you the truth,” he added. “When the prime minister of Israel makes such an allegation, that is backed up by 100 percent evidence. You can take that to the bank.”
(Dermer’s barb directed at Rhodes may allude both to his educational background – he has a master’s degree in fiction writing from New York University – and to last summer’s controversy surrounding his reported boasting at having “created an echo chamber” of experts and journalists to sell the Iran nuclear deal to the U.S. people and lawmakers.)
Dermer said criticism of the incoming administration taking a stance on the matter was a distraction; the real issue was an outgoing administration shifting policy towards Israel so fundamentally in its waning days, a step he called “an attempt to handcuff” the Trump administration.
Resolution 2334 states that areas of land disputed between Israel and the Palestinians – including the holiest site in Judaism – is “Palestinian territory” and declares Israeli presence there to be “a flagrant violation under international law.” Read the rest of this entry »
The anti-Israel U.N. resolution is a defining act of Obama’s Presidency.
The decision by the United States to abstain from a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel over its settlements on the West Bank is one of the most significant, defining moments of the Obama Presidency.
“No effort to rescind the resolution, which calls the settlements a violation of ‘international law,’ will succeed because of Russia’s and China’s vetoes.”
It defines this President’s extraordinary ability to transform matters of public policy into personal pique at adversaries. And it defines the reality of the international left’s implacable opposition to the Israeli state.
“Instead, the resolution will live on as Barack Obama’s cat’s paw, offering support in every European capital, international institution and U.S. university campus to bully Israel with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.”
Earlier in the week, Egypt withdrew the Security Council resolution under pressure from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. President-elect Donald Trump also intervened, speaking with Egypt’s government and, via Twitter, urging Mr. Obama to block the resolution, as have past U.S. Administrations and Mr. Obama himself in 2011.
“For Donald Trump, meet your State Department. This is what State’s permanent bureaucrats believe, this is what they want, and Barack Obama delivered it to them.”
As was widely reported Friday after the U.N. vote, the White House decided to abstain—thereby allowing the pro-Palestinian resolution to pass—in retaliation against the intervention by Messrs. Netanyahu and Trump.
Mr. Obama’s animus toward Prime Minister Netanyahu is well known. Apparently Mr. Obama took it as an affront that the President-elect would express an opinion about this week’s U.N. resolution. Read the rest of this entry »
Israeli officials became convinced Obama might take action after Trump’s election; Palestinians believed new administration would never endorse a vote critical of Israel.
In three frenetic days of diplomacy this week, President Barack Obama openly sided with the United Nations Security Council against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And the fallout for U.S.-Israel relations, and the future of the Middle East peace process, could be profound, said current and former U.S. officials.
Resolutions at the U.N. concerning the Israeli settlement issue had been circulating for around a year, according to U.S. and Arab diplomats. Obama administration officials said their plans on Mideast peace, however, were complicated by the U.S. presidential elections. The White House didn’t want to undermine the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, who is viewed as a strong supporter of Israel.
Israel’s government became increasingly convinced Mr. Obama might take action after Donald Trump’s surprise victory. Israeli officials have described the time before the president elect’s Jan. 20 inauguration as the “kill zone,” when the Obama administration could take steps that would be difficult to reverse.
Israeli officials said they were spooked by a Dec. 4 speech Secretary of State John Kerry gave in Washington in which he sharply criticized Mr. Netanyahu’s settlement policy. Mr. Kerry then held meetings with the Palestinians’ lead negotiator, Saeb Erekat, on Dec. 12 at the State Department to discuss the peace process.
A senior Israeli official said its government got wind that Mr. Kerry conveyed to the Palestinian diplomat at that meeting that the U.S. was likely to abstain on the U.N. resolution. “Kerry was colluding with the Palestinians to put the resolution in motion,” said the Israeli official.
Obama administration officials denied “previewing” the U.S. vote to anyone.
As early as October, Palestinian diplomats at the U.N. began assessing prospects for a Security Council resolution. They drafted two resolutions: one that would condemn Israel’s rapid expansion of settlements in disputed territories of West Bank and East Jerusalem, and another that would recognize Palestine as a state at the U.N. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Krauthammer: Trump Opposing U.N. Israel Resolution ‘Extremely Effective and Extremely Daring’Posted: December 23, 2016
The U.N. was expected to vote today on a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement building, and reports indicate that Obama was ready to allow the resolution to pass until Egypt put off the vote. President-elect Donald Trump put pressure on Egypt not to go forward with the resolution, and it seems to have had an effect. Charles Krauthammer said that the resolution could have done serious damage to Israel, making Trump’s involvement bold and effective.
The Syrian regime says it has taken full control of Aleppo, marking a major turning point in the nation’s five-year civil war. Syrian government forces and their allies are now in control of eastern Aleppo, ending more than four years of rebel rule in the area. The government made significant territorial gains in eastern Aleppo after forces backed by airstrikes entered rebel-held areas in late November. An estimated 400,000 Syrians have been killed and more than 4.81 million have fled the country since the war began in 2011, according to the United Nations….(developing)
David French writes: The world just got more dangerous. A gunman shot and killed the Russian ambassador to Turkey and then stood over his body, shouted “Allahu Akhbar” and began ranting about Syria and Aleppo. I won’t embed video of the shooting, but you can see the entire thing here. Warning, the footage is extremely disturbing.
Early reports are often wrong, but it appears the shooter was a Turkish police officer:
— Ali Hashem علي هاشم (@alihashem_tv) December 19, 2016
We can’t forget that this incident comes just a little more than a year after Turkish forces shot down a Russian jet, and it comes after Erodgan has comprehensively purged Turkish security forces to allegedly leave only his loyalists on staff. Read the rest of this entry »
The government decided Friday to strengthen unilateral sanctions against North Korea using measures such as expanding the range of entities and individuals subject to asset freezes.
The decision follows North Korea’s repeated nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches.
The new measures, which are in line with the unilateral sanctions introduced in February, include expanding a reentry ban to include people who have traveled to North Korea.
The government intends to urge Pyongyang to change its position by stringently blocking the departure and entry of people linked to North Korea’s nuclear and missile developments and flow of funds, according to sources.
“I intend to take further unilateral measures in cooperation with the United States and South Korea,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said during a meeting of Cabinet ministers concerned with the issue of Japanese citizens who were abducted by North Korea, held at the Prime Minister’s Office the same day.
Under the new measures, the range of asset freezes will be expanded to 54 entities and 58 individuals, the sources said.
The list includes a trading company in Liaoning Province, China, that was sanctioned by the United States in September for its alleged involvement in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by North Korea. Read the rest of this entry »
BEIJING (Reuters) – The United States and South Korea are destined to “pay the price” for their decision to deploy an advanced missile defense system which will inevitably prompt a “counter attack”, China’s top newspaper said on Saturday.
“If the United States and South Korea harm the strategic security interests of countries in the region including China, then they are destined to pay the price for this and receive a proper counter attack.”
Tension on the Korean peninsula has been high this year, beginning with North Korea’s fourth nuclear test in January, which was followed by a satellite launch, a string of tests of various missiles, and its fifth and largest nuclear test last month.
South Korea aims to deploy the system on a golf course, a defense ministry official said on Friday.
But the plan has angered China, which worries that THAAD’s powerful radar would compromise its security and do nothing to lower temperatures on the Korean peninsula.
In a commentary, the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily said China’s opposition to THAAD would never change as it was a serious threat to the regional strategic security balance.
“Like any other country, China can neither be vague nor indifferent on security matters that affect its core interests,” the newspaper said in the commentary, published under the pen name “Zhong Sheng”, meaning “Voice of China”, often used to give views on foreign policy. Read the rest of this entry »
The missile launches were the latest in a series by the isolated North this year in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, supported by China, that ban all ballistic missile-related activities by the North.
“We are still analyzing details but this is a grave threat to our nation’s security, and we express deep concern.”
— Japan Defence Ministry
The missiles were fired from a region south of the capital Pyongyang just after noon (10.00 p.m. ET) and flew about 1,000 km (600 miles), hitting Japan’s air defense identification zone, South Korea’s Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
“We are still analyzing details but this is a grave threat to our nation’s security, and we express deep concern,” the Japan Defence Ministry said in a statement.
The launches drew immediate condemnation from the United States, which described them as “reckless,” and diplomats said the U.N. Security Council will discuss them behind closed doors on Tuesday at Washington’s and Tokyo’s requests.
The missile launches were the latest in a series by the isolated North this year in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, supported by China, that ban all ballistic missile-related activities by the North.
Pyongyang rejects the ban as infringing its sovereign right to pursue a space program and self defense.
Shortly after the missile launches, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met on the sidelines of the G20 summit and agreed to cooperate on monitoring the situation, a Japanese statement said.
The South’s military said the missiles were medium-range Rodong-class, launched as a show of force timed to coincide with the G20 summit. The U.S. Strategic Command said in a statement that two of the three were presumed to be “intermediate range” ballistic missiles and that the third was still being assessed.
In 2014, the North fired two Rodong medium-range missiles just as Park and Abe were meeting U.S. President Barack Obama at the Hague to discuss responding to the North’s arms program. Read the rest of this entry »
North Korea Ominously Warns Manhattan Residents of Impending Threat Even More Harmful than Salt and Oversized Soft DrinksPosted: March 13, 2016
The website is a strange choice for making such a claim, given that it also carries reports about such topics as rabbit farming and domestically made school backpacks.
SEOUL — North Korea claimed Sunday that it could wipe out Manhattan by sending a hydrogen bomb on a ballistic missile to the heart of New York City, the latest in a string of brazen threats.
“Our hydrogen bomb is much bigger than the one developed by the Soviet Union.”
Although there are many reasons to believe that Kim Jong Un’s regime is exaggerating its technical capabilities, the near-daily drumbeat of boasts and warnings from North Korea underlines its anger at efforts to thwart its ambitions.
“Our hydrogen bomb is much bigger than the one developed by the Soviet Union,” DPRK Today, a state-run outlet, reported Sunday. DPRK stands for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name.
“If this H-bomb were to be mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile and fall on Manhattan in New York City, all the people there would be killed immediately and the city would burn down to ashes,” the report said, citing a nuclear scientist named Cho Hyong Il.
“The H-bomb developed by the Soviet Union in the past was able to smash windows of buildings 1,000 kms away and the heat was strong enough to cause third-degree burns 100 kms away.”
The website is a strange choice for making such a claim, given that it also carries reports about such topics as rabbit farming and domestically made school backpacks.
North Korea’s newly developed hydrogen bomb “surpasses our imagination,” Cho is quoted as saying.
“The H-bomb developed by the Soviet Union in the past was able to smash windows of buildings 1,000 kms away and the heat was strong enough to cause third-degree burns 100 kms away,” the report continued. (A thousand kilometers is about 625 miles; 100 kilometers, about 62.5 miles.)
Kim in January ordered North Korea’s fourth nuclear test and claimed that it was a hydrogen bomb, not a simple atomic one. But most experts are skeptical of the claim, saying the seismic waves caused by the blast were similar to those produced by the North’s three previous tests.
Then in February, Kim oversaw the launch of what North Korea said was a rocket that put a satellite into orbit, a move widely considered part of a long-range-ballistic-missile program. Read the rest of this entry »
Also see [GRAPHIC PHOTOS] Live Updates: Passenger Jet Downed in Ukraine, Buk Missile Attack Suspected, 23 American Passengers Suspected Dead
The missile shot skyward from war-ravaged eastern Ukraine. With deadly accuracy more than six miles up, it detonated just in front of the Malaysia Airlines jetliner, sending hundreds of jagged steel shards ripping through its aluminum skin at up to 5,600 mph and shearing the cockpit from the rest of the plane.
“The 15-month Dutch investigation blamed a Soviet-made surface-to-air Buk missile for downing the Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur flight, but it did not explicitly say who had fired it.”
The two pilots and purser in the cockpit died instantly, and the Boeing 777 disintegrated and fell to earth, killing the rest of the 298 men, women and children aboard Flight 17 on July 17, 2014, Dutch investigators said Tuesday in a long-awaited report.
“The Dutch Safety Board also found that the tragedy wouldn’t have happened if the airspace of eastern Ukraine had been totally closed to passenger planes as fighting raged below.”
Some of the victims may have been conscious for 60 to 90 seconds, the Dutch Safety Board said, but they probably were not fully aware of what was happening in the oxygen-starved, freezing chaos. The tornado-like airflow surging through the doomed jet as it came apart was powerful enough to tear off people’s clothes and leave naked corpses amid the fields of sunflowers.
“Our investigation showed that all parties regarded the conflict in eastern part of Ukraine from a military perspective. Nobody gave any thought of a possible threat to civil aviation.”
— Safety Board chairman Tjibbe Joustra
The 15-month Dutch investigation blamed a Soviet-made surface-to-air Buk missile for downing the Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur flight, but it did not explicitly say who had fired it. It identified an area of 320 square kilometers (120 square miles) where it said the launch must have taken place, and all of the land was in the hands of pro-Russian separatists fighting Ukrainian forces at the time of the disaster, according to daily maps of fighting released by the Ukrainian National Security Council.
The Dutch Safety Board also found that the tragedy wouldn’t have happened if the airspace of eastern Ukraine had been totally closed to passenger planes as fighting raged below.
“Our investigation showed that all parties regarded the conflict in eastern part of Ukraine from a military perspective. Nobody gave any thought of a possible threat to civil aviation,” Safety Board chairman Tjibbe Joustra said in releasing the report at a military base in the southern Netherlands.
He spoke in front of the partially reassembled red, white and blue Malaysian jetliner, much of the left side of its mangled fuselage front riddled with shrapnel holes.
Russian officials were prompt to dismiss the Dutch report, with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov calling it an obvious “attempt to make a biased conclusion, in essence to carry out a political order.”
Earlier Tuesday, the Buk’s manufacturer presented its own report trying to clear the separatists, and Russia itself, of any involvement.
The Russian state-controlled consortium Almaz-Antey said it conducted experiments, including one in which a Buk missile was detonated near the nose of an airplane similar to a 777, and it contended they contradicted the conclusion that a Buk missile of the kind used by the Russians destroyed Flight 17. Almaz-Antey had earlier suggested that it could have been a model of Buk that is no longer in service with the Russian military but is part of Ukraine’s arsenal.
It said the experiments also rebutted claims the missile was fired from Snizhne, a village that was under rebel control. An Associated Press reporter saw a Buk missile system in that vicinity on the same day.
Despite the moves by Moscow, Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands called on Russia to fully cooperate with a separate criminal investigation that Dutch prosecutors are conducting into the downing of the plane, in which 196 Dutch nationals died. Read the rest of this entry »
Despite Nuclear Accord, U.S.-Iran Tensions Are on the Rise.
Conviction of U.S. journalist, testing of ballistic missiles heighten concerns among deal’s U.S. critics.
WASHINGTON— Jay Solomon reports: Tensions between the U.S. and Iran, rather than easing as a result of July’s nuclear accord, are increasing over a wide spectrum of issues tied to the broader Middle East security landscape and to domestic Iranian politics, current and former U.S. officials say.
“Fears are mounting in Washington and Europe that these two conflicts could fuel a much broader regional war, in which Iran and Saudi Arabia are the chief protagonists.”
Just in the past two days, Iran has test-fired a ballistic missile and announced the conviction of American journalist Jason Rezaian, fueling suspicions the historic nuclear agreement has allowed Tehran’s Islamist clerics to step up their long-held anti-U.S. agenda.
Washington’s closest Mideast allies, particularly Israel and Saudi Arabia, are more broadly concerned about Iran’s ability to use the diplomatic cover provided by the nuclear accord—and the promised release of tens of billions of dollars of frozen oil revenues—to strengthen its regional position and that of its allies.
“There’s a risk that nonnuclear issues could sink the overall deal. The optics are terrible.”
—Richard Nephew, a former top negotiator with Iran
Iran last month launched a joint military operation with Russia in Syria aimed at stabilizing the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, Tehran’s closest regional ally, according to Iranian and Russian officials.
Iran has also continued to ship arms and money to Houthi rebels in Yemen, who seized the country’s capital this year but are now facing an expansive counteroffensive led by Saudi Arabia, according to Arab officials.
Fears are mounting in Washington and Europe that these two conflicts could fuel a much broader regional war, in which Iran and Saudi Arabia are the chief protagonists.
The Obama administration’s ability to implement the nuclear accord amid such tumult could be compromised, said former U.S. officials involved in the Iran diplomacy.
“There’s a risk that nonnuclear issues could sink the overall deal,” said Richard Nephew, who was a top negotiator with Iran up until late 2014. “The optics are terrible.”
“Both in its nuclear negotiations and its consideration of Americans detained in Iran, the administration has shown a dangerous naiveté regarding who it is dealing with.”
—Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee
Obama administration officials on Monday stressed that the July 14 agreement is solely focused on denying Iran the capability to develop an atomic weapon, and not solving these regional problems.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. was closely monitoring both Iran’s missile test on Sunday and Mr. Rezaian’s legal case to decide if and how to respond. Read the rest of this entry »
“It is highly necessary and pressing for the international community to jointly bring about an international code of conduct on cyberspace at an early date.”
“It is highly necessary and pressing for the international community to jointly bring about an international code of conduct on cyberspace at an early date,” said Wang Qun, director-general of the Arms Control Department of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, in comments to the U.N. General Assembly.
“China, for its part, will continue to commit itself to establishing a peaceful, secure, open and cooperative cyberspace and pushing for an early international code of conduct acceptable to all.”
Wang’s comments were reported by China’s main state-owned press outlet, the Xinhua News Agency.
“China, for its part, will continue to commit itself to establishing a peaceful, secure, open and cooperative cyberspace and pushing for an early international code of conduct acceptable to all,” Wang added. Read the rest of this entry »
The Iran deal in 26 seconds pic.twitter.com/sZRRgrHKTa
— Elliott Schwartz (@elliosch) July 15, 2015
Sean Davis writes:
“Obama’s deal to lift sanctions on Iran and allow it to continue the purchase and production of enriched uranium is so bad that his own staff can’t even figure out how to spin for it. It’s so bad that Obama’s opponents don’t even need to craft their own arguments against it — they can just recycle the Obama administration’s arguments against the deal…”
Frederick Kagan writes: The nuclear agreement with Iran announced Tuesday is an astoundingly good deal, far surpassing the hopes of anyone . . . in Tehran. It requires Iran to reduce the number of centrifuges enriching uranium by about half, to sell most of its current uranium stockpile or “downblend” it to lower levels of enrichment, and to accept inspections (whose precise nature is yet to be specified) by the International Atomic Energy Agency, something that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had wanted to avoid.
“The main achievement of the regime’s negotiators is striking a deal that commits the West to removing almost all sanctions on Iran, including most of those imposed to reduce terrorism or to prevent weapons proliferation.”
But the agreement also permits Iran to phase out the first-generation centrifuges on which it now relies and focus its research and development by exclusively using a number of advanced centrifuge models many times more efficient, which has been Tehran’s plan all along. The deal will also entirely end the United Nations’ involvement in Iran’s nuclear program in 10 years, and in 15 years will lift most restrictions on the program.
“Experts will debate the value of the concessions Iran has made on the nuclear front, but the value to Iran of the concessions the U.S. has made on nonnuclear issues is immeasurable.”
Even that, though, is not Tehran’s biggest win. The main achievement of the regime’s negotiators is striking a deal that commits the West to removing almost all sanctions on Iran, including most of those imposed to reduce terrorism or to prevent weapons proliferation. Most of the sanctions are likely to end in a few months. Thus the agreement ensures that after a short delay Iran will be able to lay the groundwork for a large nuclear arsenal and, in the interim, expand its conventional military capabilities as much as the regime pleases. The supreme leader should be very proud of his team.
“The Obama administration seems to be betting that lifting sanctions will cause Iran to moderate its behavior in both nuclear and nonnuclear matters. The rhetoric and actions of the regime’s leaders provide little evidence to support this notion and much evidence to the contrary.”
The agreement consists of 159 pages of opaque prose, and key sections are referred to but are not clearly marked. Even figuring out the timeline embodied in the deal is hard, but it appears to run about as follows:
“Finalization Day” was July 14. The agreement stipulates that a resolution will be submitted to the United Nations Security Council “promptly after the conclusion of the negotiations . . . for adoption without delay” that will “terminate” all preceding U.N. Security Council resolutions against Iran. The document doesn’t mention the 60-day window for review by the U.S. Congress, and the language in this section suggests that action in the U.N. will not await any congressional vote. Read the rest of this entry »
Benny Avni writes: Supposedly “isolated” Russia’s bromance with China flourishes. No wonder: Both countries appreciate power politics and scoff at America’s display of global weakness.
That was then. On Tuesday, after months of snubbing the Kremlin, Secretary of State John Kerry came hat in hand to Sochi, Russia, where he tried to schmooze Putin and his foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov.
The Kremlin signaled its disdain for Washington by declining to confirm Kerry’s meeting with Putin until the last minute. Afterward, Kerry sheepishly said the sides weren’t seeking a “major breakthrough.”
While this haphazard attempt at diplomacy took place, the Russian and Chinese navies exercised together for the first time in the eastern Mediterranean — a symbol of a fast-gelling alliance between two growing military powers.
Beijing just invested $6 billion in a Russian rail project. Dozens of trade and other bilateral agreements address mutual interests in Central Asia.
And to address Beijing’s never-satiated hunger for energy sources and Moscow’s need for cash, Russia just signed a pact to build a lucrative natural-gas pipeline to China. Annual trade between the two countries is estimated at $100 billion.
Meanwhile, as cyber threats to America grow, including, prominently, from Chinese and Russian hackers, the two countries just signed a cyber non-aggression pact, raising fears about the future of Internet freedom.
And in the world of global diplomacy (Obama’s supposedly strong suit), Beijing and Moscow unite on United Nations Security Council votes that could harm them or their allies, blocking and vetoing American and other Western resolution proposals on Syria, Ukraine and, of course, anything to do with Beijing land grabs in the East and South China Seas.
Then there’s Kerry. Read the rest of this entry »
“It is a mistake to suggest U.S. foreign policy is weak only because Barack Obama is running it. On the cusp of a presidential election, the more pertinent question is whether U.S. foreign policy is weak because a Democrat is running it.”
“You asked about an Obama doctrine,” Mr. Obama said. “The doctrine is: We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.”
“You asked about an Obama doctrine. The doctrine is: We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.”
— President Obama
In nine words, Mr. Obama explained what has been going on the past six years, culminating in what we now see is the nucleus of the Obama worldview, an accommodation with Iran.
“This statement, and indeed the Obama Doctrine, is a hoax. Set aside that ‘messes with Israel’ and ‘America will be there’ are phrases with no real operational meaning.”
The corollary of the Obama Doctrine, as the president explained, is that if engagement with a hostile power turns dangerous, everyone in the world knows that U.S. “military superiority” will emerge and prevail. In case of emergency, Uncle Sam will break glass.
“What we will be doing even as we enter into this deal is sending a very clear message to the Iranians and to the entire region that if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there.”
— President Obama, bluffing.
Mr. Obama then offered an example of how this would work—U.S. support for Israel: “What we will be doing even as we enter into this deal is sending a very clear message to the Iranians and to the entire region that if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there.”
“To understand the bluff, look closely at the Democrats’ Doctrine on paper or in practice, and you’ll notice that it’s always prospective. It promises to act at some point in the future if circumstances become so dire that they oblige the U.S. to ‘overwhelm’ the problem with superior power. Never has there been a bigger ‘if.’”
This statement, and indeed the Obama Doctrine, is a hoax.
Set aside that “messes with Israel” and “America will be there” are phrases with no real operational meaning.
“Mr. Obama’s ‘doctrine’ is essentially that if something bad happens, he will send in the 82nd Airborne Division. But he won’t. No Democrat whose view of large-scale U.S. military power was formed by the Vietnam War or the Iraq War will do that.”
“America will be there” could mean that if someone set off a nuclear backpack bomb in Tel Aviv, where the Obama administration would be the next day is on New York’s east side, condemning the attack in a U.N. Security Council resolution. Read the rest of this entry »
John R. Bolton writes: For years, experts worried that the Middle East would face an uncontrollable nuclear-arms race if Iran ever acquired weapons capability. Given the region’s political, religious and ethnic conflicts, the logic is straightforward.
“Even absent palpable proof, like a nuclear test, Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear weapons has long been evident.”
As in other nuclear proliferation cases like India, Pakistan and North Korea, America and the West were guilty of inattention when they should have been vigilant. But failing to act in the past is no excuse for making the same mistakes now. All presidents enter office facing the cumulative effects of their predecessors’ decisions. But each is responsible for what happens on his watch. President Obama’s approach on Iran has brought a bad situation to the brink of catastrophe.
“Now the arms race has begun: Neighboring countries are moving forward, driven by fears that Mr. Obama’s diplomacy is fostering a nuclear Iran.”
In theory, comprehensive international sanctions, rigorously enforced and universally adhered to, might have broken the back of Iran’s nuclear program. But the sanctions imposed have not met those criteria. Naturally, Tehran wants to be free of them, but the president’s own director of National Intelligence testified in 2014 that they had not stopped Iran’s progressing its nuclear program. There is now widespread acknowledgment that the rosy 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which judged that Iran’s weapons program was halted in 2003, was an embarrassment, little more than wishful thinking.
“There is now widespread acknowledgment that the rosy 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which judged that Iran’s weapons program was halted in 2003, was an embarrassment, little more than wishful thinking.”
Even absent palpable proof, like a nuclear test, Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear weapons has long been evident. Now the arms race has begun: Neighboring countries are moving forward, driven by fears that Mr. Obama’s diplomacy is fostering a nuclear Iran. Saudi Arabia, keystone of the oil-producing monarchies, has long been expected to move first. No way would the Sunni Saudis allow the Shiite Persians to outpace them in the quest for dominance within Islam and Middle Eastern geopolitical hegemony. Read the rest of this entry »
Michael J. Totten reports: Suicide-bombers killed at least 137 people and wounded more than 350 in Yemen at two Shia mosques in the capital city of Sanaa on Friday. The very next day, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula seized control of the city of al-Houta, and the day after that, the Iranian-backed Houthi rebel movement conquered parts of Taiz, the nation’s third-largest city. Rival militias are battling for control of the international airport in the coastal city of Aden, and the US government just announced that American troops are evacuating Al Anad airbase.
ISIS is taking credit for the Sanaa attacks. “Infidel Houthis should know that the soldiers of the Islamic State will not rest,” it said, “until they eradicate them and cut off the arm of the Safavid (Iranian) plan in Yemen.” Al Qaeda has a much larger footprint in Yemen, so the ISIS claim is a little bit dubious, but ISIS is on the rise there and its attitude toward Shia Muslims is more bloodthirsty—more explicitly genocidal as the quote above shows—than Al Qaeda’s.
Regardless of who committed the latest round of atrocities, everything in Yemen is about to become much, much worse. The region-wide storm of sectarian hatred has been gathering strength by the year for more than a decade, and it blew the roof off Yemen earlier this year when the Houthis, who are Shias, seized control of the capital and sent Sunni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi into semi-exile in Aden.
[Order Michael J. Totten‘s book “Tower of the Sun: Stories from the Middle East and North Africa” from Amazon.com]
The Houthis see their takeover of the city and government institutions as a natural progression of the revolution in 2011 that toppled former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, but it isn’t, not really. While they enjoy some backing beyond their Shia support base, the sectarian dimension is inescapable. Shias make up almost half the population, and the Sunni majority is keenly aware that minorities in the Middle East are capable of seizing power and lording it over everyone else—especially if they’re sponsored by a regional mini superpower like Iran. Syria has been ruled by the Iranian-backed Alawite minority for decades, and Saddam Hussein used brute force to bring the Sunni minority to power in Iraq.
Still, the Houthis have virtually no chance of ruling the entire country. Their “territory,” so to speak, is restricted to the northwestern region surrounding the capital. Previous governments had a rough go of it too. South Yemen was a communist state—the so-called People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen—until the Soviet Union finally ruptured, and four years after unification with North Yemen, the armed forces of each former half declared war on each other. Read the rest of this entry »
Speaking after the attack, Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi said the country was “in a war with terror”.
A gunman who carried out an attack that killed 17 tourists at Tunis’s Bardo museum was known to the authorities, Tunisia’s prime minister has said.
Habib Essi told RTL Radio that security services had flagged up one of the attackers, Yassine Laabidi, but were not aware of “anything specific”, or of any links to known militant groups.
“Tunisia has managed to avoid the larger wars which have hit other Arab states, but this attack…reveals its vulnerability.”
— The BBC’s James Reynolds
Two Tunisians, a police officer among them, also died in Wednesday’s attack.
Both gunmen were also killed. A search is on for suspects linked to them.
Two or three accomplices are still at large, an interior ministry spokesman told AFP news agency. The spokesman said both attackers were “probably” Tunisian. The second gunman has been named as Hatem Khachnaoui.
The tourists killed in the attack include visitors from Japan, Italy, Colombia, Australia, France, Poland and Spain, officials said.
“These monstrous minorities do not frighten us. We will resist them until the deepest end without mercy. Democracy will win and it will survive.”
— Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi
Officials say more than 40 people, including tourists and Tunisians, were injured.
Speaking after the attack, Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi said the country was “in a war with terror”.
“These monstrous minorities do not frighten us,” he said in remarks broadcast on national TV. “We will resist them until the deepest end without mercy. “Democracy will win and it will survive.”
At the time of the attack, deputies in the neighbouring parliamentary building were discussing anti-terrorism legislation.
Who were the victims?
According to Prime Minister Essid, 19 people were killed, although some of the countries involved have different totals:
- Two Tunisians, including a police officer involved in the security operation
- Five Japanese were killed, according to Mr Essid – although Japan says it has only confirmed the deaths of three citizens
- Four Italians
- Two Colombians
- Two Spaniards
- One national each from Australia, France and Poland
- One victim who was not immediately identified
Parliament was evacuated, but later reconvened for an extraordinary session in the evening.
Sayida Ounissi, an MP, told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme that the security services had said parliament was the original target of the attack. Read the rest of this entry »
Yeonmi Park tells her story of life in North Korea and calls for action against such human rights violators. Yeonmi was speaking at the One Young World Summit 2014 in Dublin. Click here to see the full transcript in Korean.
I have to do this because this is not just I am speaking… This is for the people who want to tell the world what they want to say.
North Korea is an unnatural country. There is only one channel on TV and there is no internet. We aren’t free to sing, say, wear or think what we want.
North Korea is the only country in the world that executes people for making unauthorized international phone calls.
North Koreans are being terrorized today.
When I was growing up in North Korea, I never saw anything about love stories between man and woman, no books, no songs, no press, no movies about love stories. There is no Romeo and Juliet, every stories were propagandized to brainwash about the Kim dictators.
I was born in 1993 and I was abducted at birth even before I knew the words ‘freedom’ or ‘human rights’. North Koreans are desperately seeking and dying for freedom at this moment…
When I was 9 years old, I saw my friend’s mother publicly executed. Her crime? Watching a Hollywood movie.
Expressing doubt about the regime can get 3 generations of whole family imprisoned or executed.
When I was 4 years old, I was warned by my mother, not to even whisper, the birds and mice could hear me. I admitted it. I thought the North Korean dictator could read my mind. My father died in China after we escaped North Korea. And I have to bury him at 3 am in secret. I was only 14 years old. I couldn’t even cry, I was afraid to be sent back to North Korea.
The day I escaped North Korea, I saw my mother raped. The rapist was a Chinese broker. He had targeted me. I was only 13 years old. There is a saying in North Korea, “Women are weak, but mothers are strong”. My mother allowed herself to be raped in order to protect me.
North Korean refugees, about 300,000 are roaming over in China. 70 percent of North Korean women and teenage girls are being victimized and sometimes sold for as a little as 200 dollars. We walked across the Gobi desert following a compass and when it stopped working, we followed the stars to freedom. I felt only the stars are with us. Mongolia was our freedom moment.
Death or dignity; I was with the knife, we were prepared to kill ourselves if we are going to be send back to North Korea. We wanted to live as humans…
People often ask me, “How can we help North Koreans?”. There are many ways but I would like to mention 3 for now.
One, as you care yourself, you can raise awareness about human crisis in North Korea.
Two, help and support North Korean refugees who are trying to escape for freedom.
Three, petition China to stop repatriation. Read the rest of this entry »
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Korea held a mass rally Tuesday in its capital to protest a United Nations resolution condemning its human rights record.
Thousands of protesters in Kim Il Sung Square carried banners praising their leaders and condemning the United States. Such mass rallies are organized by the government and are used to express its official line.
North Korea has denounced the U.N. resolution, which is the first to urge the Security Council to refer the issue to the International Criminal Court. That would open the possibility of its autocratic leader, Kim Jong Un, being targeted by prosecutors. The non-binding resolution is to come before the U.N. General Assembly in the coming weeks. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Leadership Contrast: President Reagan’s 1983 Address to the Nation on the Soviet Attack on a Korean Airliner KAL 007Posted: July 17, 2014
“Where human life is valued, extraordinary efforts are extended to preserve and protect it. And it’s essential that as civilized societies we ask searching questions about the nature of regimes where such standards do not apply.”
“First let me just say that Nancy and I were deeply saddened last night to learn of the death of Senator Henry Jackson. He was a friend, a colleague, a true patriot and a devoted servant of the people. He will be sorely missed and we both extend our deepest sympathy to his family.
“What can be the scope of legitimate mutual discourse with a state whose values permit such atrocities? And what are we to make of a regime which establishes one set of standards for itself, and another for the rest of humankind?
And now, in the wake of the barbaric act committed yesterday by the Soviet regime against a commercial jetliner, the United States and many other countries of the world made clear and compelling statements that expressed not only our outrage, but also our demand for a truthful accounting of the facts.
Our first emotions are anger, disbelief and profound sadness.
While events in Afghanistan and elsewhere have left few illusions about the willingness of the Soviet Union to advance its interests through violence and intimidation, all of us had hoped that certain irreducible standards of civilized behavior nonetheless obtained.
But this event shocks the sensibilities of people everywhere. A tradition in the civilized world has always been to offer help to mariners and pilots who are lost or in distress on the sea or in the air. Where human life is valued, extraordinary efforts are extended to preserve and protect it. And it’s essential that as civilized societies we ask searching questions about the nature of regimes where such standards do not apply. Read the rest of this entry »
Serious question: Is there a good argument for a president skipping a national security meeting on a day such as this?
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) March 1, 2014
The United Nations Security Council will be holding a closed door meeting for the second consecutive day to discuss the current situation in Ukraine.
The President of the Security Council said informal consultations among council members would begin at 2 p.m. (1900 GMT) Saturday. The council also held closed door consultations on Friday at the request of Ukraine’s U.N. Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev who referred to “the deterioration of the situation” in the Crimean Peninsula which he said “threatens the territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
Russia’s parliament on Saturday approved a motion to use the country’s military in Ukraine after a request from President Vladimir Putin. Ukraine has already accused Russia of “a military invasion and occupation” of strategic points in the Crimean peninsula, a Ukrainian territory where Russia’s Black Sea fleet is based.
At least 26 members of the Senate want to warn the regime against negotiating in bad faith.
Clifford D. May writes: Just before Congress recessed for the holidays, 26 senators — 13 Democrats and 13 Republicans, led by Senators Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) — introduced the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013. Its purpose: to ready new sanctions that would be triggered only if Iran’s rulers either fail to meet the obligations they have undertaken under a “Joint Plan of Action” or foot-drag on talks meant to lead to a “comprehensive agreement.” That agreement is to offer thetheocrats a simple deal: relief from increasing economic isolation and pressure in exchange for the verifiable dismantling of their nuclear-weapons program — an illegal program condemned by six U.N. Security Council resolutions.
The bill has displeased Iran’s rulers and infuriated many on the American left. “Saboteur Sen. Launching War Push,” ran the histrionic headline aboveMenendez’s photo in the Huffington Post last week.
President Obama also opposes the legislation. At his final press conference of the year, he said “there’s no reason to do it now” and he accused the bill’s congressional sponsors of “trying to look tough on Iran” for political reasons. He has threatened a veto should the measure reach his desk. His veto could be overridden by a two-thirds majority in each house — a high but not insurmountable hurdle.
Members of Congress sitting on the fence might want to ponder a few questions over the holidays: Are you confident that Iran’s rulers are negotiating in good faith? Do you think American diplomats will be helped or harmed if you give them additional leverage? Does it trouble you that Iran’s rulers have yet even to acknowledge that they have a nuclear-weapons program — insisting that, despite the vast petroleum reserves they control, they are building nuclear facilities under mountains strictly for “peaceful purposes”? Are you convinced that Iranian president Hassan Rouhani and foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are moderates? Or do you suspect that they might be trying to play American diplomats like a Guadagnini?
A new web ad warns against relaxing sanctions “until the threat from Iran is totally dismantled”:
Why we shouldn’t care that the world’s most irresponsible country is displeased at the U.S.
Fareed Zakaria writes: America’s middle east policies are failing, we are told, and the best evidence is that Saudi Arabia is furious. Dick Cheney, John McCain and Lindsey Graham have all sounded the alarm about Riyadh’s recent rejection of a seat on the U.N. Security Council. But whatever one thinks of the Obama Administration’s handling of the region, surely the last measure of American foreign policy should be how it is received by the House of Saud.
If there were a prize for Most Irresponsible Foreign Policy it would surely be awarded to Saudi Arabia. It is the nation most responsible for the rise of Islamic radicalism and militancy around the world. Over the past four decades, the kingdom’s immense oil wealth has been used to underwrite the export of an extreme, intolerant and violent version of Islam preached by its Wahhabi clerics. Read the rest of this entry »
(AP) BEIJING – China has tightened restrictions on North Korea by issuing a lengthy list of items and technologies banned from export to its ally and neighbor because of their potential use in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction.
The move reflects Beijing’s desire to get Pyongyang to recommit to nuclear disarmament through negotiations.
The list of forbidden materials with both civilian and military applications includes those in the nuclear, missile, chemical and biological fields. A Commerce Ministry notice posted to its website Tuesday included 236 pages of explanation and details of banned items. Read the rest of this entry »
GENEVA (Reuters) – A U.S.-Russian deal to remove Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal contains nothing about the potential use of force if Syria fails to comply, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday. Read the rest of this entry »
Max Fisher writes: Russian President Vladimir Putin has an op-ed in today’s New York Times urging President Obama not to strike Syria. It’s a fascinating document — a very Russian perspective translated into American vernacular, an act of public diplomacy aimed at the American public and the latest chess move in the U.S.-Russia standoff over Syria, one in which we the readers are implicated. Putin does make a number of valid and even compelling points, but there is an undeniable hypocrisy and even some moments of dishonesty between the lines. Read the rest of this entry »
An Emergency UN Security Council meeting to discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria has been cancelled after Russia reportedly withdrew its request for the session.
Australian ambassador, Gary Quinlan, announced the news on his Twitter account, saying: “Following withdrawal of the request for consultations, Security Council meeting scheduled for 4 p.m. (2000 GMT) will not proceed.”
The meeting was expected to focus on a Russian plan to place Syrian chemical weapons under international control.
As American officials bitterly denounce Russia for blocking the United Nations from endorsing action over Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons, another global power that has taken a similar stand seems to be getting a free pass from the U.S : China.
The double standard is underscored by the meeting President Barack Obama is set to hold Friday morning with Chinese President Xi Jinping in St. Petersburg, Russia.