The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

New sanctions on North Korea in reaction to its latest nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

Coal sanctions newest move to block North Korean nuclear efforts SBS World News Radio: The United Nations Security Council has imposed new sanctions on North Korea in response to its latest round of nuclear and ballistic missile tests.By Gareth Boreham, 1 Dec 16 

The sanctions on North Korea target what is increasingly being seen as a key means of financing the country’s nuclear build-up — coal exports.

The United Nations is imposing a new binding cap on how much coal can be shipped out of the country.

South Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations, Oh Joon, estimates more than $1.3 billion has already been spent on testing and missile-launching……..

The 15-member Security Council unanimously agreed to the sanctions, which follow North Korea’s fifth — and largest — nuclear test in September.

The resolution cuts coal exports by 60 per cent, with an annual cap of $540 million a year.

Copper, nickel, silver and zinc exports will also be restricted.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon says the sanctions are some of the toughest and most comprehensive ever imposed on North Korea, or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea……..

While opposed to North Korean nuclear testing, China has criticised South Korea and the United States for strengthening their military presence on the Korean Peninsula.

China’s UN ambassador, Liu Jieyi, has told the council the planned US high-altitude anti-missile system would undermine China’s security interests and upset the regional balance.

“As such, it is neither conducive to the realisation of the goal of denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula nor helpful for the maintenance of peace and stability on the peninsula.”

Russia’s UN representative, Vladimir Safrankov, has expressed his country’s reservations about the impact of sanctions on the North Korean population.

“We stress, in particular, this new resolution can in no way be used to smother the North Korean economy and worsen the humanitarian situation and the situation of the people living in that country.”

He has also warned against using the situation on the Korean Peninsula as a pretext for enhancing foreign military capacities.

December 2, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

People power, not Trump, has killed the Trans Pacific Partnership

TPPA NZThe TPP wasn’t killed by Donald Trump – our protests worked We the people can create change by standing together. This is crucial to remember for the next four years, Guardian,  and , 28 Nov 16,

The real story is that an unprecedented, international uprising of people from across the political spectrum took on some of the most powerful institutions in the world, and won.

Sure, Donald Trump – and Bernie Sanders’ – campaign focus on the TPP elevated US awareness about the pact, a wide-reaching international agreement negotiated by the Obama administration. But no single politician killed this deal.

If not for the constant pressure from activists and civil society groups, the TPP would have become law long before the recent US election. But thanks to intense, creative and strategic organizing from the day the text was finalized in 2015, there was never a majority of support for the pact in Congress. That’s why it was never implemented.

The TPP is a massive global deal that was negotiated in secret with hundreds of corporate advisers given special access while the public was locked out. It would have handed multinational corporations like Walmart, AT&T and Monsanto extraordinary new powers over everything from the wages we earn, to the way we use the internet, to the safety of the food we feed our children.

Perhaps most shockingly, the TPP would have allowed corporations to sue governments before tribunals of three corporate lawyers, essentially creating an unaccountable, shadow legal system outside of our traditional courts to punish governments that pass laws that corporations don’t like.

A simple agreement to lower tariffs and other anticompetitive barriers to trade wouldn’t have been so controversial. But big business couldn’t resist the urge to abuse the extreme secrecy surrounding the TPP negotiations to stuff the pact with a wishlist for policies they knew they could never pass through traditional means.

That unchecked greed was the TPP’s demise. What emerged from the closed-door negotiations was more than 5,000 pages of policy so clearly against the public interest that it awakened a firestorm of opposition that swept the globe, and in the end, sent the TPP to its grave.

While negotiations were still under way, tens of thousands of people joined mass protests in Japan, Peru, Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific Rim nations. They pushed back on the TPP’s worst provisions, held their leaders’ feet to the fire and dragged the talks out for years. This early wave of international resistance changed the game: it bought time for activists to organize an effective opposition in the US, which was seen as all-important in the global calculus of the Washington-led deal. If Congress did not ratify the TPP, it would die.

In the meantime, an unlikely alliance was forming. Activists, farmers, labor unions, tech companies, environmentalists, economists, nurses, LGBTQadvocates, libertarians and librarians mounted an intense opposition to the “fast track” legislation that the White House needed to rush the final agreement through Congress. The coalition that formed grew from dozens, to hundreds, to literally thousands of organizations, many working together for the first time, ranging from Black Lives Matter to Doctors Without Borders to the Tea Party.

We marched in the streets. We rallied outside the hotels and resorts that hosted the secret negotiations. Cancer patients protesting about the TPP’s impact on healthcare access engaged in civil disobedience and were arrested. Internet freedom activists mobilized thousands of websites for online protests that bombarded lawmakers with emails and phone calls. Academics picked apart leaked versions of the deal, and coordinated with advocates to launch a campaign to educate the public on its flaws.

Hard-hitting activism and public outcry slowed the TPP down, and as a result, dragged it fully into the spotlight just as the US headed into a contentious election season.

It wasn’t a coincidence that Donald Trump saw the TPP as a useful stump speech talking point. Widespread suffering caused by previous trade deals laid a strong foundation for skepticism, making President Obama’s devotion to the Wall Street-friendly deal, and Hillary Clinton’s previous support for it, a huge liability for the Democratic party. As more and more people learned about what the TPP really meant for them and their families, it became politically toxic, to the point that no major party candidate for president could openly support it.

This was a sign that the TPP was on its deathbed, but with the threat of a last-minute push during the “lame duck” session after the election, we needed to be sure. So we targeted undecided lawmakers with protests and flew inflatable blimps outside their offices. We harnessed the power of music to draw huge crowds across the country to “Rock Against the TPP” concerts and teach-ins, taking our opposition to the TPP into the cultural mainstream. We tuned out the chorus of voices that told us that corporate power would always prevail in the end. And finally, we claimed our victory.

Now more than ever, it’s crucial that Americans understand how the TPP was really defeated. An organized and educated public can take on concentrated wealth and power and win. With four years of new battles ahead of us, this is a story we must commit to memory, and a lesson we must take to heart.

November 30, 2016 Posted by | politics, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Diplomatic outreach from Trump. Xi and Putin could persuade North Korea to give up nuclear weapons expansion

diplomacy-not-bombsflag-N-KoreaUnder Trump, America can defuse the Korean nuclear crisis – with help from China and Russia

Charles K. Armstrong and John Barry Kotch say North Korea may well be willing to give up its nuclear plans if both Xi and Putin can be convinced to add their weight to the diplomatic outreach   Charles Armstrong John Barry Kotch, 24 November, 2016,  US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said recently at a Council on Foreign Relations forum that dissuading North Korea from continuing its nuclear development was “a lost cause”. The remark is itself a cause for alarm. North Korea’s growing nuclear arsenal and increasing delivery capability could render East Asian stability itself a lost cause, substantially raising the risks of regional nuclear proliferation and disarray in America’s alliances with Japan and South Korea – as well as posing a direct threat to the US homeland. It is a principal reason that Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sought an early meeting with President-elect Donald Trump last week.

Throughout most of its tenure, the Obama administration has put its stock into increasingly intrusive sanctions based on a strategy of so-called “strategic patience”, but this has not brought a resolution of the North Korean nuclear crisis any closer. On the contrary, Pyongyang has tested nuclear weapons and missiles at an ever-increasing rate.

What has been lacking is a diplomatic component as a complement to the pressure of sanctions. Resolving the issue requires not just outreach conducted at the ambassadorial level by a coordinator, but a high-level diplomatic initiative, the only kind that has succeeded in the past.

Had Hillary Clinton been elected president, one could envisage such an initiative led by two former US presidents – Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton – who have negotiated or held substantive discussions with North Korea’s leader himself or at the top leadership echelon. And while previous agreements reached with Kim Jong-un may have rejected the agreements his father and grandfather made in the 1990s, avowing not to go down the nuclear path via plutonium reprocessing or uranium enrichment, one thing the younger Kim could not have done was spurn the legacy of his father and grandfather in meeting with two former US presidents.

Carter’s negotiations with Kim Il-sung in 1994 led to a shutdown of the nuclear plant at Yongbyon for eight years and the resumption of International Atomic Energy Agency inspections. A bilateral framework established the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organisation, with the goal of providing light-water reactors to meet Pyongyang’s energy needs. Unfortunately, the agreement fell apart during the first George W. Bush administration.

Towards the end of the Clinton administration, the US moved towards recognising North Korea as a legitimate state actor. The momentum towards diplomatic recognition was symbolised in 2000 by the visit of North Korea’s Marshall Jo Myong-rok to the White House and secretary of state Madeline Albright’s meeting with Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang. The two sides discussed a missile agreement, to be finalised by a presidential visit to North Korea.

Trump now has an opportunity, at the start of a new relationship with Xi Jinping ( 習近平 ) and Vladimir Putin respectively, to work with China and Russia in making clear to Kim Jong-un that a North Korean nuclear capability is incompatible with the stability of Northeast Asia. As Stanford University professor Siegfried Hecker has noted, the North’s strategy has evolved from a nuclear deterrent as a bargaining chip to a strategic force, and a 2020 reality of a fully fledged intercontinental ballistic missile capability.

And what of the argument, according to Clapper, that North Korea will never give up this capability, which it views as the sole guarantor of its survival? In effect, this is a false choice – unless one accepts Pyongyang’s proposition that it is faced with an existential threat from the US, making a nuclear deterrent essential for its security. Just the reverse is true: North Korea’s nuclear capability itself puts the country’s survival at risk, because no American president can tolerate the threat a nuclear-armed North Korea would pose to the US homeland.

Given the above, now is the time for China and Russia, both neighbouring states that would be directly affected by a potential US pre-emptive strike on North Korea, to embrace high-level “pincer” diplomacy vis-à-vis North Korea. To date, Beijing has argued that squeezing too hard would force a North Korean collapse, which is China’s worst-case scenario. But clearly the sanctions that China has enforced have been insufficient to deter North Korea. A non-nuclear North Korea would offer Beijing the best of both worlds: a buffer on its eastern border that is not a rogue nuclear state or a threat to regional stability.

President Xi has said to President-elect Trump that “facts have shown that cooperation is the only correct choice” for the United States and China. To gain Beijing’s acquiescence to a diplomatic approach, the first step would be for the US to delay the deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Air Defence (THAAD) system in South Korea. THAAD was to be deployed in response to Pyongyang’s testing an intermediate-range missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead into space, on a trajectory that could reach Guam or the Aleutian Islands. China has been adamantly opposed to THAAD; dropping or delaying the deployment of the system opens the door to a positive diplomatic role for China, to complement sanctions-based coercive diplomacy. Once the North Korean threat was removed, there would be no need or justification for THAAD.

Russia, similarly, has a vested interest in the denuclearisation of North Korea. Engaging Moscow in resolving the nuclear impasse is both logical, given the Soviet role in providing the Yongbyon nuclear reactor, the principal driver of Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, and would take advantage of the political leverage enjoyed by Putin, the only current leader to have successfully engaged with a North Korean leader, in persuading Kim Jong-il to observe a three-year missile moratorium in 1999. He has similarly agreed with Trump to “normalise relations and pursue constructive cooperation on the broadest possible range of issues”. The upside for Putin is an opportunity to bolster his standing in the West by making an important contribution to international peace and security.

Trump will have the opportunity for a fresh diplomatic approach to resolving the North Korean nuclear issue with the cooperation of the most important nuclear powers in the region – an opportunity that should be grasped sooner rather than later. The test for both Putin and Xi will be their willingness, with the full backing of Trump, to intercede directly with the North Korean leader.

Charles K. Armstrong is professor of Korean Studies at Columbia University and John Barry Kotch is a research scholar and Columbia PhD in political science

November 26, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

New sanctions on North Korea, agreed on by China and USA. Russia delays

China, U.S. agree on new sanctions to punish North Korea for nuclear test, but Russia ‘trying to hold it up’, National Post Michelle Nichols, Reuters | November 24, 2016 UNITED NATIONS — The United States and China have agreed on new U.N. sanctions to impose on North Korea over the nuclear test it conducted in September, but Russia is delaying action on a draft resolution, a senior Security Council diplomat said on Wednesday.

The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, believed China could persuade Russia to agree to the new sanctions and that the 15-member Security Council could vote on the draft resolution as early as next week.

Since North Korea’s fifth and largest nuclear test on Sept. 9, the United States and China, a close ally of North Korea, have been negotiating a new draft Security Council resolution to punish Pyongyang.

That draft text was recently given to the remaining three permanent council veto powers, Britain, France and Russia.

“The (permanent five members) are getting very close to agreement on a draft resolution,” the diplomat said. “The key thing is that China and the U.S., who have led this, have got to a position that they agree on. So the issue now is Russia…….

November 26, 2016 Posted by | China, North Korea, politics international, Russia, UK | Leave a comment

Obama administration set to strengthen Iran Nuclear Deal

diplomacy-not-bombsObama Seeks to Fortify Iran Nuclear Deal New steps weighed include licenses for more American businesses and lifting additional U.S. sanctions, WSJ,  By CAROL E. LEE in Lima, Peru, and JAY SOLOMON in Washington Nov. 20, 2016

The Obama administration is considering new measures in its final months in office to strengthen the landmark nuclear agreement with Iran, senior U.S. officials said, with President-elect Donald Trump’s first appointments foreshadowing an increasingly rocky road for the controversial deal.

Action under consideration to buttress the pact includes steps to provide licenses for more American businesses to enter the Iranian market and the lifting of additional U.S. sanctions.

The effort to shore up the agreement was under way before the election and is not aimed at boxing in Mr. Trump, who opposes the deal, the officials said. Officials also acknowledged the proposals are unlikely to make the nuclear agreement more difficult to undo.

Mr. Trump’s first two picks for his national security team—retired Army Gen. Mike Flynn as national security adviser and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) as Central Intelligence Agency director—are hard-liners on Iran who have voiced opposition to the nuclear deal…..

Administration officials said they haven’t yet begun conversations on the Iran deal with the officials Mr. Trump has deployed across the government to facilitate his transition into office. They also are unsure whether those Trump officials are the ones they need to persuade.

The picture they plan to articulate for Mr. Trump’s team is stark: If the agreement falls apart, and the U.S. is blamed for its collapse, Iran would resume its nuclear program more aggressively. In that case, the U.S. risks alienating Europe, as well as China and Russia, and limiting its ability to use sanctions again to contain Iran. Military action against Tehran’s nuclear facilities, these officials argue, could be the only alternative…….

November 23, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Liberals and mainstream conservatives complacent, while in politics, fascism rises

fascismNo, this isn’t the 1930s – but yes, this is fascism, The Conversation, ,Associate Professor of Modern History, University of Oxford, November 16, 2016 

The spread of fascism in the 1920s was significantly aided by the fact that liberals and mainstream conservatives failed to take it seriously. Instead, they accommodated and normalised it.

The centre right is doing the same today. Brexit, Trump and the far right ascendant across Europe indicate that talk of a right-wing revolutionary moment is not exaggerated. And the French presidential election could be next on the calendar.

The shock felt by status-quo liberals and the anguish experienced on the left are matched only by the satisfaction of those on the extreme right that finally they are winning. The so-called “mature” liberal democracies have long managed to marginalise them. They have long seen themselves as vilified for speaking the common man’s unpalatable truths to out-of-touch elites. Now their champions are taking the political mainstream by storm.

And amid the disbelief, heartbreak, and protest, centre-right politicians and commentators seek to normalise and reassure. They dismiss “whingers” and “moaners”. They tell us to “get over it” and brush off talk of a new fascism as unfounded scaremongering…..

The point of comparison is not to suggest that we are living though the 1930s redux. It is to recognise the very strong family resemblance in ideas shared by the early 20th century far right and its mimics today……

Fascism brings a masculinist, xenophobic nationalism that claims to “put the people first” while turning them against one another. That is complemented by anti-cosmopolitanism and anti-intellectualism…….

This is a new fascism, or at least near-fascism, and the centre right is dangerously underestimating its potential, exactly as it did 80 years ago. Then, it was conservative anti-communists who believed they could tame and control the extremist fringe. Now, it is mainstream conservatives, facing little electoral challenge from a left in disarray…..

The risk, at least for the West, is not a new world war, but merely a poisoned public life, a democracy reduced to the tyranny of tiny majorities who find emotional satisfaction in a violent, resentful rhetoric while their narrowly-elected leaders strip away their rights and persecute their neighbours…

November 19, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international | Leave a comment

The Trump ascension – the positive, and the negatives

TrumpThat so much power over the U.S. nuclear arsenal is placed in the hands of one man – any man – bodes ill for humanity, while completely undermining the war power granted to Congress in the U.S. constitution.  That the man in question should be Donald Trump, with all his personal flaws, challenges the United States and the world as never before in human history.

Trump, Nuclear Weapons and the Human Future,CounterPunch,  “………The most positive policy proposal Trump will bring to the table as president is his desire to improve and strengthen relations between the U.S. and Russia, which have deteriorated badly in recent years.  This is one hopeful sign that could lead to renewed efforts by the two countries to reduce their nuclear arsenals and reverse current plans to modernize these arsenals.

The Numerous Negatives

Trump’s behavior during the presidential campaign was often erratic, seemingly based on discernable personality traits, including narcissism, arrogance, impulsiveness, and a lack of predictability.  If these traits provide a fair characterization of Trump’s personality, what do they suggest for his control of the U.S. nuclear arsenal?

Trump’s narcissism seems to be reflected in his need to be liked and treated positively. During the primaries, if another candidate criticized him, Trump would respond with even stronger criticism toward his attacker.  On the other hand, if someone praised Trump, he would respond with praise.  This could result in creating a spiral in either a positive or negative direction.  A negative spiral could potentially get out of hand, which would be alarming with regard to anyone with a hand hovering near the nuclear button.

His narcissism was also reflected in his need to be right.  Even though Trump is reported to not read very much and to have a limited range of experience, he is often certain that he is right and boldly asserts the correctness of his positions.  At one point, for example, he argued that he knew much more than military leaders about the pursuit and defeat of ISIS.  His assuredness of his own correctness seems also rooted in arrogance reflecting his fundamental insecurity.  This insecurity and his belief in his own rightness, when combined with his success at making money, leads him to be self-reliant in his decision-making, which could result in his taking risks with threatening or using nuclear weapons.  He said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program, “My primary consultant is myself.”  While this may make consensus easy, the range of perspective is dangerously narrow.

Two other personality traits could also make more likely Trump’s use of nuclear weapons: his impulsiveness and his lack of predictability.  Impulsiveness is not a trait one would choose for a person with the power to launch the U.S. nuclear arsenal.  When it comes to deciding to use the Bomb, a personality that is calm, clear and measured would seem to inspire more confidence that caution would be employed.  Predictability would also seem to inspire confidence that a President Trump would refrain from deciding to respond with overwhelming force when he is in a negative spiral and out of patience with a country or terrorist organization that is challenging the U.S., which he may interpret as mounting a challenge to himself personally.Where Does Trump Stand?

On many issues, including on the use of nuclear weapons, it is not clear where Trump stands, due to his contradictory statements.  Here is what Trump said in March 2016 at a town hall event when host Chris Matthews asked him if he might use nuclear weapons:…..

 ConclusionPerhaps the singular positive of Trump’s desire to improve the deteriorating relations between the U.S. and Russia will lead to achieving progress toward a world free of nuclear weapons.  A lot will depend on who Trump chooses for key cabinet positions, but even more will depend on his consultations with his key advisor (himself).

That so much power over the U.S. nuclear arsenal is placed in the hands of one man – any man – bodes ill for humanity, while completely undermining the war power granted to Congress in the U.S. constitution.  That the man in question should be Donald Trump, with all his personal flaws, challenges the United States and the world as never before in human history.David Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (

November 19, 2016 Posted by | politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Presidency of Donald Trump could improve USA-China relations

Donald Trump Offers Hope of Less Hostile Policy toward China, Huffington Post, 11/18/2016 
Doug Bandow Contributing writer, policy analyst
 U.S.-China relations are likely to benefit from the election of Donald Trump as president. Hillary Clinton’s policy toward China emphasized confrontation. In a leaked email she was quoted as privately threatening to “ring China with missile defense” if Beijing didn’t bring North Korea to heel. She also said Americans should “put more of our fleet in the area.”

While Trump primarily emphasized trade issues, Clinton’s approach would have risked a military confrontation while adding new tensions to U.S.-China relations. This approach also would have driven Beijing closer to the ever provocative Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The DPRK’s nuclear program has become Northeast Asia’s biggest security challenge. Today the North is believed to have enough nuclear materials for up to 20 nuclear weapons. By 2020 Pyongyang could have at least 50 and perhaps as many as 100 nukes.

Marry such an arsenal to accurate long-range missiles and Pyongyang’s mischief-making ability would expand dramatically. China understands the dangers and wants to keep the Korean peninsula nuclear-free……..

America, usually through its secretary state, including Clinton, has made a practice of simply telling the PRC what the U.S. desires and complaining when China does not deliver. Alas, the time, if it ever really existed, when Washington could simply dictate to others has passed. Even more, the time when anyone could dictate to Beijing has passed……..

American policymakers understandably are frustrated by China’s continuing support for North Korea. However, threats like that advocated by Clinton almost certainly would be counter-productive. The U.S. is unlikely to apply pressure sufficient to coerce Beijing into acting against its interest. But the attempt would make China less willing to cooperate in the future.

Instead, Washington needs to relearn the art of diplomacy and seek to persuade rather than dictate. Doing so might not be as satisfying as making demands. But such a course would be more likely to succeed. Which should be everyone’s objective in dealing with North Korea. Ironically, despite his bluster, incoming President Donald Trump may be more open to such an approach than would have been a President Hillary Clinton.

November 19, 2016 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

India made no additional concessions to Japan in nuclear deal. Still-confusion over ‘termination’ clause

Buy-Japan's-nukes-2India made no additional commitments to Japan for nuclear deal: MEA, DNA,  18 Nov 2016 , New Delhi , PTI

Vikas Swarup clarifies that India made no additional concessions. India on Thursday asserted that the termination clause in the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (NCA) with Japan was nothing “new” and that New Delhi had made no additional commitments to clinch the deal other than what it had committed itself to while declaring a unilateral moratorium on testing nuclear weapons in 2008.

He also insisted that all clauses in the NCA were binding on the two parties. However, the circumstances of termination, by their very nature, are not specifiable in the NCA and a comprehensive reading of the entirety of the provision to understand the hypothetical possibilities as well as the mitigating circumstances and consequences was required, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Sawrup said. “India appreciates the special sensitivities of Japan on nuclear issues. It was felt that a note on views expressed by the Japanese side in the above context could be recorded.

Such a record, to be balanced, also needed an accurate depiction of India s position. “The ‘Note on Views and Understanding’ reiterates the commitments that India made in September 2008. No change is envisaged from those commitments and no additional commitments have been made by India,” Swarup added. He was asked about the termination clause in the Indo- Japan NCA and if India had made any exemptions while inking the deal. The NCA was signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan last week.

“The NCA, in fact, has a specific article (No. 14) devoted to termination and cessation of cooperation in certain circumstances. This is not new and is similar, in fact almost identical, to the provision in the US Agreement. “Any suggestion that the termination clause in the NCA is not binding on India is factually incorrect. All clauses of the NCA are binding on both parties,” Swarup said…….

November 18, 2016 Posted by | India, Japan, politics international | Leave a comment

World anxiety on Donald Trump – his personality flaws, ignorance, unpredictability, impetuosity

trump-worldPresident Donald Trump: The World Turned Upside Down? Huffington Post 

Alistair Burnett Writer on Global Affairs 14/11/2016 Did American voters just turn the world upside down?

With international affairs pundits saying Donald Trump in the White House means the end of the West as we know it, some certainly believe they did – although many of these obituaries exaggerate US fealty to the rules-based system created after 1945.

It’s not just what he said on the stump about economic, diplomatic and military relations with the rest of the world his critics have in mind; it’s his character.

 Trump has displayed personality flaws beyond the dreams of avarice, which, in a politics-as-normal world, would mean he’d be unfit to occupy any political office, let alone the Oval one.

Then there is his impetuosity and lack of experience that introduce a whole new element of uncertainty into world affairs.

If this weren’t bad enough, Trump appears ignorant of the details of key treaties and international law and his track record doesn’t suggest he’s good at taking advice. Some who opposed his election are seeking solace in the fact Trump often says things that are untrue – whether he knows they are or not – so there’s a hope he didn’t mean all the things he said he would do during the campaign.

Others say he will appoint people who do know what they’re doing, but with names like John Bolton being floated for Secretary of State that’s very much open to question.

Still others are making the point that his policies are largely unformed, or at least unarticulated, and argue he will be constrained by Republicans in Congress who don’t agree with him.

For all the caveats, one thing is clear – the Trump wild card means the world is set for even more instability than we’ve seen in recent years……

First and foremost attempts to prevent catastrophic climate change are facing a huge setback.

Trump has been explicit on this. He has played to the deniers and conspiracy theorists saying climate change is a Chinese hoax aimed at undermining the US economy and, whether he really believes this or not, he’s committed to renouncing the Paris Climate Agreement.

With the Republicans retaining control of Congress and the certainty he will appoint at least one new Supreme Court justice, he will try to reverse the limited action President Obama has managed to take in the US itself.

There is a chance individual American states and cities will continue to take progressive measures, but if the US abandons international agreements and goes back on action it has already taken, will the other major emitters like China and India stick to their commitments? Maybe the Chinese would, but I doubt India will.

The first major decision Trump will have to make, though, is how to pursue the campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

The incoming president has been very critical of what he sees as a lack of aggression by the US military and promised to intensify air strikes – which would inevitably lead to more civilian casualties.

He also said he would commit more American ground troops to the fight.

This would likely result in the conflict between the West and violent jihadism dragging on even longer, with all the implications that has for the stability of Muslim countries, relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, and the prospect of ending jihadi terrorism around the world…….

despite his bombastic rhetoric about making America great again, Trump’s presidency could well see the strain in relations with Russia ease. We could even see the two nations cooperating in the campaign against ISIS in Syria

We are yet to see how Trump and Putin will really get on, and it may not all be sweetness and light.

If Trump follows through on what he’s said about modernising America’s nuclear arsenal, this would antagonise Russia given the importance it attaches to its nuclear arsenal as the guarantee of its security and great power status.

This would also matter because, despite the fact there is less overt concern about the prospect of nuclear war since the end of the Cold War, some strategic commentators and elder statesmen think there is a greater risk of a nuclear conflict now than in the past……..

 While a Clinton presidency would have probably seen a further deterioration in relations, Trump’s approach to China poses a much greater risk to global stability.

Unlike Russia, for Donald Trump, China is a direct threat to American national interests.

If he sticks to what he’s proposed during the campaign – an even greater military build-up around Chinese waters and retaliation for alleged unfair trade practices – we are headed for a major escalation in tension.

And with the unpredictable and untested Trump as commander-in-chief and a Chinese leadership which has built its political legitimacy on the back of making China stand tall again in the world, the risk that an accidental clash in the South China Sea could blow up into a major conflagration is much greater……..

What the world really needs now is a true acceptance in Washington of how the global balance of power is changing and the need to engage with other countries on a genuinely equal and respectful basis – this is a necessary, if not sufficient, condition to restoring some sort of order to global affairs.

But, Donald Trump, who may prove to be the most unprepared, uninformed president ever to enter office, shows no sign of having applied much thought to such questions and is inclined to shoot from the hip.

Despite some conciliatory language since his victory, the rest of us can only hope he’d only be shooting metaphorically.

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November 16, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international | Leave a comment

A dangerous nuclear deal – Japan and India

A questionable nuclear deal, Japan Times NOV 15, 2016

In recent years, Japan has concluded a series of civilian nuclear cooperation pacts with such countries as Vietnam, Jordan and Turkey in an effort to export its nuclear power plant technology and equipment. But the latest deal with India carries different ramifications. It marks a deviation from Japan’s emphasis on the NPT regime as the international framework for nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, which is already threatened by North Korea’s repeated nuclear weapons tests.

 India carried out nuclear weapons tests in 1974 and 1998 and is believed to possess at least 100 nuclear warheads. It has refused to join the NPT, which limits possession of nuclear arms to the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China, nor has it signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The international community for years prohibited civilian nuclear cooperation with India, but the U.S. administration of President George W. Bush in 2008 concluded such a pact with New Delhi with an eye on building nuclear power plants in the rapidly growing South Asian economy — a move followed by other countries including Japan…….

Japanese businesses involved in nuclear power meanwhile see promising markets overseas for export of their technology and equipment since the Fukushima disaster made it difficult for utilities to build new nuclear plants in Japan and the restart of idled plants remains slow. These strategic and business considerations were prioritized as Tokyo pushed for the nuclear deal, which also authorizes India to reprocess spent nuclear fuel to extract plutonium. Japan is reported to have compromised on its earlier demand that the pact include an explicit provision that cooperation would be halted if India resumed nuclear weapons tests. …..

November 16, 2016 Posted by | India, Japan, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

US Republicans now seek a quick way to get out of Paris climate agreement

trump-worldTrump seeking quickest way to quit Paris climate agreement, says report, Guardian, 13 Nov 16 
The president-elect wants to bypass the theoretical four-year procedure to exit the accord, according to a Reuters source, 
Donald Trump is looking at quick ways of withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement in defiance of widening international backing for the plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions, Reuters has reported.

Since the US president-elect was chosen, governments ranging from China to small island states have reaffirmed support for the 2015 Paris agreement at 200-nation climate talks running until 18 November in Marrakesh, Morocco.

But, according to Reuters, a source in the Trump transition team said the victorious Republican, who has called global warming a hoax, was considering ways to bypass a theoretical four-year procedure for leaving the accord.

“It was reckless for the Paris agreement to enter into force before the election,” said the source, who works on Trump’s transition team for international energy and climate policy, speaking on condition of anonymity. The Paris agreement went into force on 4 November, four days before last Tuesday’s election.

Alternatives were to send a letter withdrawing from a 1992 convention that is the parent treaty of the Paris agreement, voiding US involvement in both in a year’s time, or to issue a presidential order simply deleting the US signature from the Paris accord, the source told Reuters.

Many nations have expressed hopes the United States will stay. Morocco, the host for the talks, said the agreement that seeks to phase out greenhouse gases in the second half of the century was strong enough to survive a pullout.

“If one party decides to withdraw that it doesn’t call the agreement into question,” foreign minister Salaheddine Mezouar told a news conference.

Despite the threat of a US withdrawal, US secretary of state John Kerry said on Sunday that he would continue his efforts to implement the Paris agreement until Barack Obama leaves office on 20 January.

Speaking in New Zealand following a trip to Antarctica, Kerry appeared to take a swipe at Trump when he listed some of the ways in which global warming could already be seen. He said that there were more fires, floods and damaging storms around the world, and sea levels were rising.

“The evidence is mounting in ways that people in public life should not dare to avoid accepting as a mandate for action,” Kerry said…..

November 14, 2016 Posted by | climate change, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Donald Trump and his relationship with Russia

Nuclear weapons: how foreign hotspots could test Trump’s finger on the trigger, Guardian, , 13 Nov 16, “……….Trump has claimed he could improve relations with Russia, and in particular with Vladimir Putin personally, that would defuse the high tensions over Ukraine and Syria. Such deals could well be at the expense of the people of those countries, but could conceivably lessen the chances of a complete end to arms control and the return to an expensive and dangerous nuclear arms race. Hans Kristensen, a nuclear expert at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), points out that the deepest cuts in nuclear arsenals have been achieved by Republican administrations.

“Republicans love nuclear weapons reductions, as long as they’re not proposed by a Democratic president,” Kristensen wrote on an FAS blog

“That is the lesson from decades of US nuclear weapons and arms control management. If that trend continues, then we can expect the new Donald Trump administration to reduce the US nuclear weapons arsenal more than the Obama administration did.”

The current arms treaty limiting the strategic arsenals of both countries, New Start, expires in 2021. A decision will have to be made whether to replace it or let arms control wither. Both Putin and Trump could save tens of billions of dollars by cutting arsenals. As part of any deal, however, Putin would ask for the scrapping of the US missile defence system currently being erected in eastern Europe. Any concessions on the US trillion-dollar nuclear weapon modernisation programme, which Trump endorses in his transition website, would bring him in direct conflict with the Republican establishment.

“I could imagine Trump personally being more flexible,” Acton said. “But it would set up a huge fight with Congress. Congress loves missile defence.”

November 14, 2016 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

India does not regard the “Termination” clause as binding – nuclear deal with Japan

hypocrisy-scaleflag-indiaTermination clause in nuclear deal with Japan not binding
on India, insists govt, First Post, 13 Nov 16 
New Delhi: The just-signed historic civil nuclear deal with Japan has a “termination” clause which the government here insists is not binding on India but merely records the “views” of the Japanese side considering its “special sensitivities”.

The government insisted that India has made “no additional commitments” over the similar agreements signed with the US and other countries.

In the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, signed in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Friday, there is a note on ‘Views and Understanding’ wherein the Japanese side has cited India’s September 2008 declaration of unilateral moratorium on atomic tests and said if this commitment is violated, the deal will terminate.

Indian government holds that this is merely recording of the views of the two sides.

“The termination clause is there in other NCAs (nuclear cooperation agreements) we have signed, including with the US (Article 14). However the circumstances triggering a possible termination are never sharply defined. Consideration also has to be given to mitigating factors,” a source here said.

“That note is simply a record by the negotiators of respective views on certain issues. It is not the NCA which is what is binding,” the source said.

The sources added that given Japan’s special sensitivities as the only nation to have suffered a nuclear attack, “it was felt that their views should be recorded in a separate Note. The Note is a record by the negotiators of respective views on certain issues.

“The termination clause is there in other NCAs (nuclear cooperation agreements) we have signed, including with the US (Article 14). However the circumstances triggering a possible termination are never sharply defined. Consideration also has to be given to mitigating factors,” a source here said.

“That note is simply a record by the negotiators of respective views on certain issues. It is not the NCA which is what is binding,” the source said.

The sources added that given Japan’s special sensitivities as the only nation to have suffered a nuclear attack, “it was felt that their views should be recorded in a separate Note. The Note is a record by the negotiators of respective views on certain issues………

Japan has made a major exception by signing the atomic cooperation agreement with India, despite it being non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)……..

November 14, 2016 Posted by | India, politics, politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will co-operate with President Trump – UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Issues CHILLING Warning To Donald Trump,   BiPartisan Report , By Sarah MacManus –

German Chancellor Angela Merkel reacts to Donald Trump as elected President (english subtitles)

It could mean the cooperation of our European allies, as well. Merkel also serves as the de facto leader of the European Union, and was listed by Forbes as one of the world’s second most powerful individuals in the last five years.
Donald Trump would do well to heed her warning.

Trump took a swing at Merkel during his campaign over her refugee policy, criticizing her willingness to accept refugees and immigrants into Germany and stating: “What Merkel did to Germany is a shame, it’s a sad, sad shame.”

Merkel’s even-handed statement of congratulations to the Republican was composed with the utmost precise wording and couched in tones of warning……..

“Please accept my congratulations on your election as President of the United States of America.

“You will assume office at a time in which our countries are jointly facing many different challenges.

“Germany’s ties with the United States of America are deeper than with any country outside of the European Union. Germany and America are bound by common values — democracy, freedom, as well as respect for the rule of law and the dignity of each and every person, regardless of their origin, skin color, creed, gender, sexual orientation, or political views. It is based on these values that I wish to offer close cooperation, both with me personally and between our countries’ governments.

“Partnership with the United States is and will remain a keystone of German foreign policy, especially so that we can tackle the great challenges of our time: striving for economic and social well-being, working to develop far-sighted climate policy, pursuing the fight against terrorism, poverty, hunger, and disease, as well as protecting peace and freedom in the world.

“In the years ahead as president, I wish you a sure hand, every success, and God’s blessing.”

November 12, 2016 Posted by | Germany, politics international, USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment