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Wuth nuclear power fading in Europe, is it time to dissolve Euratom?

Energy Transition 11th Aug 2017, Since the 1950s, the Euratom Treaty has encouraged large investments into
nuclear energy projects and funding for nuclear research. In all this time,
the treaty was never revised to suit present-day demands.

The trend towards cheaper renewable energy is ignored, while millions of euros that go
towards nuclear research are legitimated. Cordula Büsch takes a look at
why the Euratom treaty needs to be reformed, if not abolished.

Theresa May has explicitly mentioned in her letter to the EU Council which officially
triggered article 50 in March that the UK will leave the Euratom treaty,
despite Euratom membership not being connected to EU membership.

Perhaps this can be taken as an opportunity, a wake-up call, to finally discuss the
dissolving of Euratom altogether. Just like the Brexit negotiations, this
will bear many challenges and open questions, such as the future of the
long-term ITER project to build a fusion reactor. In 2012-2013 Euratom
funded the ITER project with the substantial amount of EUR 2.2 billion.

Nonetheless, it should be a necessity to discuss the future of Euratom,
especially now at a time when demands to reform the EU are voiced by the
remaining 27 members. The current trend shows that more European countries
are thriving to shut down their nuclear power plants. There are also more
countries without nuclear power plants among the EU27 than those keeping up
their support of nuclear energy.

With Belgium and Germany joining the group
of countries without nuclear power plants within the next 8 years, this
group will entail 15 member states. The support for nuclear energy is
steadily shrinking and with the UK, a nuclear power nation is soon leaving
the EU, which changes proportionalities within the union. Even France has
issued the Energy Transition for Green Growth bill preparing to cut down
nuclear energy to 50% by 2025.

https://energytransition.org/2017/08/the-euratom-treaty-an-outdated-source-for-legitimisation-of-nuclear-energy/

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August 16, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international | Leave a comment

Avoiding the fate of Saddam Hussein and Gadhafi – this is Kim Jong-un’s nuclear strategy

Kim Jong-un views nuclear weapons as a way to escape fate of Saddam and Gadhafi  North Korea’s nuclear weapons unnerve the world, but are a security blanket for the regime, By Mark Gollom, CBC News   Aug 13, 2017 William Tobey, a nuclear non-proliferation expert who has taken part in past Six Party Talks with North Korea, says anyone who claims to perfectly understand the motivations of the North Korean government, and does not live in Pyongyang, is probably blowing smoke.

But Tobey and most experts agree that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s No. 1 goal is self-preservation. For Kim, the pursuit of nuclear weapons and a missile program is a rational way to stave off attempts by the U.S. to overthrow his regime.

“I think most people ascribe a motivation of regime preservation to their nuclear programs,” Tobey said. “So it would be used to deter any attacks that would be aimed at dislodging the government.”

Nuclear ‘treasure sword’

The North Korean government has said as much in its public statements, Tobey said, and those should be taken “at face value.”

A commentary published by North Korea’s state KCNA news agency in January last year stated that “history proves that powerful nuclear deterrence serves as the strongest treasure sword for frustrating outsider’s aggression.”

The piece suggested North Korea fears suffering the same demise as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Moammar Gadhafi’s Libya, that neither could “escape the fate of destruction after being deprived of their foundations of nuclear development and giving up undeclared programs of their own accord.”

Philip Yun, a former senior adviser to two U.S. co-ordinators for North Korea at the Department of State, said that he has been in hundreds of hours of negotiations with the North Koreans. “Every single time during that period, they talked about [Slobodan] Milosevic and they talked about Saddam Hussein and subsequently talked about Gadhafi — if they had nuclear weapons they’d still be there.”…….

Preserving the dynasty

If North Korea truly believes an attack is imminent, it would launch its own strike, believing it has nothing to lose, said Tom Collina, director of policy at Ploughshares Fund, a think-tank dedicated to reducing the dangers of nuclear weapons.

But North Korea would not attack “out of the blue,” because it knows that would be suicidal, the end of the regime, he said…….

Tobey said he believes the “no viable options” view is a myth and that the U.S., South Korea and Japan need to step back and take a deep breath. North Korea, he reminded, is a tiny country, with a tiny economy, and it knows the regime would end if it deployed any serious weapons.

“We managed to deter the Soviet Union for decades with basically rough parity in the two military arsenals. There’s no comparison with U.S. and North Korea military capabilities. We can deter them.” http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/north-korea-nuclear-weapons-donald-trump-1.4244020

August 14, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Donald Trump: USA ready to act militarily against North Korea: Merkel calls for de-escalation of the rhetoric

Donald Trump says US military solutions ‘locked and loaded’ against North.  Korea.news.com.au , AUGUST 12, 2017 US PRESIDENT Donald Trump says North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will “regret it and regret it fast” if he attacks the US air bases in Guam or any of America’s allies.

August 12, 2017 Posted by | Germany, Pakistan, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

What Washington should do about North Korea

Washington Should Step Back In Korea: Is Donald Trump Or Kim Jong-Un More Dangerous? Forbes, 11 AUG 17 “……..,What should Washington do?

  • President Trump should stop competing in the crazed rhetoric contest. Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un shouts to get noticed and divert attention from his country’s many weaknesses. America’s president needs do neither. To the contrary, by doing so the U.S. leader demeans himself and his country.
  • The U.S. should begin phasing out both its security treaty with and military garrison in the ROK. Seoul long has been able to defend itself. America’s defense commitment is what puts this nation in the middle of one of the world’s worst geopolitical hotspots. Protecting prosperous and populous friends is not worth the risk of nuclear war.
  • Washington should sit down with the People’s Republic of China, acknowledge its interests, and offer to make a deal. For instance, propose an American military withdrawal from the Korean peninsula in exchange for greater Chinese pressure on the North. The U.S. cannot expect the PRC to drop its only ally and aid American attempts at regional containment because that’s what Washington desires.
  • American policymakers should consider whether encouraging South Korean and Japanese development of countervailing nuclear arsenals is better than maintaining an increasingly frayed “nuclear umbrella” over Washington’s allies. Frankly, neither Seoul nor Tokyo is worth risking the loss of Los Angeles or Seattle. There are no good solutions to a nuclear DPRK. Further proliferation might be the best “second best” answer available.
  • Negotiate with North Korea. Talking would reduce the sense of threat felt by the North. Dialogue also would explore areas of potential agreement even if Pyongyang refuses to consider abandoning its nukes and missiles. For instance, a verifiable freeze would be uncomfortable, but the U.S. and world would be better off facing a North with a stable nuclear arsenal of 20 weapons than one of, say, 100 weapons and growing, which some analysts fear could be the case in just a few more years.
  • Despite the global freak-out over the war of words between Supreme Leader Kim and President Trump, there is good news. Pyongyang wants to avoid, not wage, war against America. (Hopefully the Trump administration also wants to avoid a conflict.) If the U.S. was not “over there,” seemingly threatening military action and regime change, the DPRK almost certainly would ignore Washington. But as long as the U.S. is present militarily, prepared to intervene in any conflict, and ever-ready to oust offending governments for any number of reasons, the Kim regime will look to deterrence as its only sure defense.

    Peace should remain America’s overriding objective regarding the Korean peninsula. That would most likely be achieved by Washington calming its rhetoric and stepping back militarily. If President Trump really wants to put America first, he will move the U.S. out of the firing line in Korea and Northeast Asia.https://www.forbes.com/sites/dougbandow/2017/08/11/washington-should-step-back-in-korea-is-donald-trump-or-kim-jong-un-more-dangerous/#20326a737df1

August 12, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Facing reality: North Korea already is a nuclear weapons state

Treating North Korea as another rival nuclear power would involve using the tools the U.S. has employed for decades to deal with such adversaries: containment, deterrence, and measures designed to lower the risk of a small incident escalating into an all-out confrontation. It might be the least bad option there is left

Is It Time to Accept the Reality of a Nuclear-Armed North Korea? By John Cassidy, 12 Aug 17, “…….A year ago, the Institute for Science and International Security estimated that Pyongyang had between thirteen and twenty-one nuclear warheads; since then, the number has likely grown. Last month, the North Koreans carried out two tests of ballistic missiles that, at least in theory, could hit parts of the U.S. mainland. The tests were apparently successful. And, according to a recent report in the Washington  Post, the Defense Intelligence Agency believes that Kim’s regime has developed a miniature nuclear warhead that could soon be fitted to these long-range missiles……In a presentation to the Asia Society last week, John Park, a director of the Korea Working Group at the Belfer Center, pointed out the Kim had been entirely consistent in his desire to obtain a nuclear deterrent, which, in addition to safeguarding his regime, would enable North Korea to avoid a costly conventional-arms race and focus on economic development. Park said that many Chinese officials privately sympathized with the North Korean policy………

August 12, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Why Washington should step back in Korea

Washington Should Step Back In Korea: Is Donald Trump Or Kim Jong-Un More Dangerous? Forbes, 11 AUG 17, President Donald Trump has put all of Asia and much of the world on edge. All week he’s gone mano-a-mano with Kim Jong-un, blustering like the frightened head of an international micro-state instead of the representative of the world’s most important and powerful nation. Who imagined that people around the globe would be left wondering who was more stable: the 33-year-old “Supreme Leader” of the world’s only communist monarchy or the duly elected president of the United States, long considered the leader of the free world?

There is no contest between the two nations, which helps explain North Korea’s bluster as it attempts to develop a deterrent against U.S. attack. America’s GDP last year was almost $19 trillion, around 650 times that of the North. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s 25 million produce about as much as the residents of Anchorage, Alaska, or Portland, Maine. A weltmacht the DPRK is not.

Although North Korea devotes something like a quarter of its GDP to the military, its conventional armed forces are characterized more by quantity than quality. The DPRK probably has around 20 nukes, though they are of uncertain status and deliverability. Its practical missile capabilities are greatest at shorter ranges. Although Pyongyang is developing missiles capable of reaching America, they are not yet capable of successfully carrying warheads or targeting cities or bases.

In contrast, Washington spends upwards of 100 times as much as Pyongyang on the military. One carrier group possesses sufficient firepower to devastate the DPRK. And the U.S. sports the world’s most sophisticated nuclear arsenal. Only a few of America’s 1411 warheads would be necessary to turn Kim Jong-un’s kingdom into a proverbial “lake of fire,” which Pyongyang has so often threatened to do to others.

Of course, critical to deterrence is whether Kim recognizes the actual balance of power. Some Americans worry that he may believe his government’s bombastic, splenetic, confrontational, and fantastic rhetoric. But the near hysterical language with which Pyongyang addresses the world is not new. Even without deployable nuclear weapons and capable missiles the DPRK promised to destroy its opponents. A few years ago the North circulated a video purporting to show the planned destruction of New York City. Brinkmanship long has been the chief hallmark of North Korean policy.

 Moreover, there is no evidence that the North’s Supreme Leader is blind, ignorant, or suicidal, even though he is calculating, cruel, and ruthless. But so far he has played a weak hand well. He succeeded his father in December 2011 when just shy of his 28th birthday. Surrounded by experienced, tough, and older associates of his father, he out-maneuvered them all, even executing some 140 top officials, including his uncle and supposed mentor.

Kim’s byungjin policy, essentially “parallel development” of both the economy and nuclear weapons, so far has succeeded. Far more than his father he has pursued economic reform, with positive results which I observed while visiting the capital in June. In fact, the Bank of [South] Korea reports that 2016 saw the North’s fastest growth in 17 years. (Overall the DPRK remains poor, especially the countryside, where those of dubious ideological reliability are contained.) Moreover, nuclear and missile developments proceed faster than ever. Kim clearly prefers his virgins in this world rather than the next, and thus can be deterred.

Nor is the regime’s desire for nukes and missiles evidence of insanity. (The fact that a political system is criminal does not mean that it is irrational.) The DPRK once matched South Korea but over the last half century has fallen dramatically behind: the Republic of Korea possesses about 40 times the GDP and twice the population of the North. The ROK is technologically advanced, integrated into the international system, beneficiary of abundant economic and diplomatic support, and, most important, backed by the globe’s super/hyperpower.

In Pyongyang North Korean officials denounced Washington’s “hostile policy,” backed by “military threats” and “nuclear threats.” All of which is true, though, of course, the U.S. responded to the DPRK’s own “hostile” behavior. The U.S. intervened to defend the Republic of Korea after the 1950 North Korean invasion and would have liberated the entire peninsula had China not entered the conflict. Gen. Douglas MacArthur then advocated using nuclear weapons, a threat also employed by the incoming Eisenhower administration to “encourage” Beijing to conclude an armistice.

Once that agreement was reached, the U.S. forged a “Mutual Defense” treaty (in practice it runs only one way, of course) with the South and maintained a garrison, backed by nuclear weapons on the peninsula (since withdrawn), joint military exercises with the South, and ample reinforcements nearby. Such measures obviously threatened the North Korean regime.

Ironically, the end of the Cold War enhanced the danger facing Pyongyang. First Moscow and then Beijing opened diplomatic relations with South Korea, while the U.S. and Japan continued to isolate the DPRK, leaving the latter truly alone, without any real allies or even friends, other than fellow impoverished but brutal hellholes such as Cuba.

Moreover, after the demise of the Soviet Union America no longer restrained itself militarily. Indeed, no nation has used force more often over the last three decades. Washington ousted governments in Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya; threatened an invasion to overthrow Haiti’s government; sought to capture de facto rulers in Somalia; dismantled Serbia; and backed the overthrow of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Washington used non-military means to support “color revolutions” in Georgia and Ukraine and later encourage a street revolution against the latter’s elected president. Kim has good reason to be paranoid, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

At the time Pyongyang took special note of America’s and Europe’s willingness to take advantage of Libyan Muammar Khadafy’s weakness and enable his ouster by armed opponents. This after he was rewarded by Washington and feted in Europe for trading away his government’s missiles and nukes and battling al-Qaeda. So much for Washington keeping its deals.

Nuclear weapons obviously offer North Korea a useful tool to defend itself in a dangerous and uncertain part of the world. Even China is at best a frenemy and Kim wants to rule an independent nation, not a de facto Chinese province. Nukes also give Pyongyang status, enable neighborly extortion, and please the military. While alone they provide local deterrence, Kim no doubt fears the attitude expressed by a shockingly callous Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who assumed the U.S. could freely attack the North since the conflict would be in Northeast Asia, “not here in America.” Long-range missiles would allow North Korea to share the slaughter with the U.S. homeland…….https://www.forbes.com/sites/dougbandow/2017/08/11/washington-should-step-back-in-korea-is-donald-trump-or-kim-jong-un-more-dangerous/#20326a737df1

August 12, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | 2 Comments

President Donald Trump’s “loose rhetoric” on North Korea could have deadly consequences

Trump’s rhetoric could see U.S. ‘blunder into a war’ with North Korea, warns former negotiator, CBC Radio, 11 Aug 17 U.S. President Donald Trump’s “loose rhetoric” on North Korea could have deadly consequences, says the former U.S. defence secretary who negotiated with Pyongyang for the Clinton administration.

“In any war with North Korea, North Korea would surely lose. They know that, so they’re not seeking a war,” William Perry told As It Happens guest host Rosemary Barton.

“But we could blunder into a war, and this kind of loose rhetoric probably makes that more likely than less likely.”

‘Even with conventional weapons, it could be at least as bad as the first Korean War, in which more than a million people died.’– William Perry, former U.S. defence secretary 

Perry says he came close to brokering a deal with the regime in 1999 to not develop a nuclear arsenal, but negotiations came to a halt when George W. Bush took over the White House from Bill Clinton.

He spoke with Barton about the escalating threats being exchanged by Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un. Here is part of their conversation. …….

Unlike the first Korean War, this one always has the potential of escalating into a nuclear war.

I do not believe that North Korea would initiate any attack with nuclear weapons because I do not believe the leadership is suicidal. They’re not seeking martyrdom; they’re seeking to preserve the regime in power. But they’re playing a very dangerous game.

Do you think, as some have suggested, there would be any consideration or benefit to an American pre-emptive strike?

That would be exceedingly dangerous. It would almost certainly lead to a North Korean military response on South Korea

That could very well then escalate into a general Korean war, with the horrible consequences of the first Korean War and beyond that.

We have learned today, according to an Associated Press report, that the Trump administration has had some backchannel diplomacy with North Korea for a number of months with Joseph Yun, the U.S. envoy for North Korea. What does that tell you?

I would certainly hope it were true that besides dealing with this with bluster, we’re dealing with it with a sober, cautious attempt to enter into a dialogue with North Korea to see if we can resolve this crisis through diplomacy instead of through a military conflict. That’s why Yun is over there — to see if he can find a peaceful solution…….http://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-friday-edition-1.4201412/trump-s-rhetoric-could-see-u-s-blunder-into-a-war-with-north-korea-warns-former-negotiator-1.4201420

August 12, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

China’s economic advantage in control of rare earths

Control of rare earths gives China a fresh economic advantage, Las Vegas Sun, By Llewellyn King, Aug. 10, 2017……China controls the world’s production and distribution of rare earths. It produces more than 92 percent of them and holds the world in its hand when it comes to the future of almost anything in high technology.

Rare earths are great multipliers and the heaviest are the most valuable. They make the things we take for granted, from the small motors in automobiles to the wind turbines that are revolutionizing the production of electricity. For example, rare earths increase a conventional magnet’s power by at least fivefold. Strategically, they are the new oil.

Rare earths are also at work in smartphones and computers. Fighter jets and smart weapons, like cruise missiles, rely on them. In national defense, there is no substitute and no other supply source available…….

If President Donald Trump — apparently encouraged by his trade adviser Peter Navarro, and his policy adviser Steve Bannon — is contemplating a trade war with China, rare earths are China’s most potent weapon.

A trade war moves the rare-earths threat from existential to immediate.

In a strange regulatory twist the United States — and most of the world — won’t be able to open rare-earths mines without legislation and an international treaty modification. Rare earths are often found in conjunction with thorium, a mildly radioactive metal and a large regulatory problem.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency have defined thorium as a nuclear “source material” that requires special disposition. Until these classifications, thorium was disposed of along with other mine tailings. Now it has to be separated and collected. ….

Meanwhile, future disruptions from China won’t necessarily be in the markets; they could be in the obscure but vital commodities known as rare earths: China’s not-quite-secret weapon. https://lasvegassun.com/news/2017/aug/10/control-of-rare-earths-gives-china-a-fresh-economi/

August 12, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, China, politics international, RARE EARTHS | Leave a comment

Can Donald Trump be prevented from plunging the world into nuclear war?

Trump has taken us to the brink of nuclear war. Can he be stopped?In previous standoffs, Trump’s predecessors knew when to hold back. Now there is no such certainty, Irish Times, 
Jonathan Freedland, 1o Aug 17, his was the moment many Americans, along with the rest of the world, feared. This – precisely this – was what alarmed us most about the prospect of Donald Trump becoming president of the US. Not that he would hire useless people or that he would tweet all day or use high office to enrich himself and his family or that he’d be cruel, bigoted and divisive – though those were all concerns. No, the chief anxiety provoked by the notion of Trump in the White House was this: that he was sufficiently reckless, impulsive and stupid to bring the world to the brink of nuclear war.

‘Fire and fury’ wasn’t tough enough – Trump on North Korea

Of course, cooler heads might soon prevail. China might find the diplomatic back-channel that persuades North Korea to step back from the current clash with Washington. The Pyongyang regime might calculate for itself that, despite its latest threat to attack the US airbase in the Pacific island of Guam, further escalation risks its own survival. Or the generals that now flank Trump – John Kelly as chief of staff, Jim Mattis as defence secretary – might succeed in talking their boss down from the ledge.

But make no mistake. Trump’s remarks on Tuesday have pushed the US to the precipice of nuclear confrontation with North Korea. We have to hope that both parties will step back, but be under no illusion that the brink is where we stand. And Trump put us there.

The form of words the president used made the critical difference. Threatening Kim Jong-un with “fire and fury” was bellicose enough. But adding the words “the likes of which this world has never seen before” left no doubt that he was talking about a nuclear strike against North Korea.

It is worth pausing to consider the obvious consequences of such an action. About 75 million people live on the Korean peninsula. There are also 30,000 US servicemen and women stationed there. How many would die if Trump made good on his threat? And that is to reckon without further retaliation and escalation, as Russia or China unleashed their own nuclear arsenals. This is why all previous US presidents have used only the most sober language when speaking of North Korea. They have understood the human stakes. They have sought to reduce tension, not ratchet it up……..

The point is that since the dawn of the atomic age the world’s leaders have understood that these weapons have to be handled with the greatest delicacy. Nuclear standoffs happen, but each side has always understood where the brink lies and were careful not to overstep it. That means, especially, understanding the need not to say anything that the other side might misinterpret as a cue for war.

Both Washington and Moscow understood that throughout the cold war; it’s what stopped the Cuban missile crisis turning into Armageddon. Most analysts believe the regime in Pyongyang, for all its brutality, understands that too: it is not suicidal. But the question hanging over the world today is one that has never had to be asked before: does the US president understand this most essential point, one on which the fate of the world depends?

Jonathan Freedland is a Guardian columnist https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/trump-has-taken-us-to-the-brink-of-nuclear-war-can-he-be-stopped-1.3182374

August 11, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Poland joins Lithuania in criticism of Belarusian nuclear plant

Poland speaks out harshly against Belarusian nuclear plant, Poland has lent its voice to a growing chorus of countries that won’t buy power from the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant that Moscow is building in Ostrovets because it considers the project to be unsafe, RIA Novosti reported, Bellona, August 9, 2017 by Charles DiggesPoland has lent its voice to a growing chorus of countries that won’t buy power from the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant that Moscow is building in Ostrovets because it considers the project to be unsafe, RIA Novosti reported.

Warsaw joins Lithuania in its dour appraisal of the project despite recent assurances from the International Atomic Energy Agency that the plant meets safety norms.

Saying Warsaw “has a different opinion” than the IAEA, Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski told reporters “We won’t change our position on buying energy from this atomic station.”

“I think that at its foundation lies unsafe technology, and a lack of safety led to Chernobyl,” he said, adding “We are against this nuclear station and don’t plan to cooperate and buy its energy.”

Waszczykowski’s remarks Tuesday were the latest of the stinging rebukes from Eastern Bloc nations against the Belarusian nuclear plant, which have been running on high volume in recent months.

The VVER-1200 nuclear plant, built on a whopping export credit from Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom, is expected to come online in 2020.

In April, Vilnius passed a law against buying energy from what its parliament termed “unsafe nuclear power plants in third countries,” and forbidding utilities from transferring energy from such plants through the country’s territory.

The legislation’s clear target, however, is the Belarusian plant, which is going up a mere 40 kilometers from the Lithuanian capital, from which its rising cooling towers are visible on a clear day.

Since May, Lithuania has mounted a campaign among its diplomats throughout Europe to heap criticism on the plant to anyone willing to listen.

Tomas Tomilinas, a Lithuanian parliamentarian recently told Bellona that his country’s opposition to the plant was nothing less than a question of national security.

“Here there cannot be any compromises in questions of guaranteeing the safety of our country and its capital Vilnius,” Tomilinas told Bellona. “We absolutely disagree with the choice of site for the plant and are unsatisfied with answers from the Belarusian side on a whole host of safety issues and incidents that have already occurred during construction.”

Anxieties about the plant have simmered among Belarus’s neighbors since 2010, but redoubled since the plant’s construction site saw a series of clumsy mishaps……..http://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2017-08-poland-speaks-out-harshly-against-belarusian-nuclear-plant

August 11, 2017 Posted by | Belarus, EUROPE, politics international | Leave a comment

USA to review Iran nuclear activities – envoy to go to Vienna

U.S. envoy to U.N. will go to Vienna to review Iran nuclear activities – U.S. official, Michelle Nichols, UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) 10 Aug 17, – U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley will travel to Vienna later this month to discuss Iran’s nuclear activities with U.N. atomic watchdog officials, a U.S. official said on Wednesday, as part of Washington’s review of Tehran’s compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal

The official told Reuters that Haley, a member of President Donald Trump’s cabinet, would meet with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials and the U.S. delegation in Vienna to further explore the extent of Iran’s nuclear activities.

In April, Trump ordered a review of whether a suspension of sanctions on Iran related to the nuclear deal was in the U.S. national security interest. He has dubbed it “the worst deal ever negotiated.”

Most U.N. and western sanctions were lifted 18 months ago under a deal Iran made with world powers to curb its nuclear program. It is still subject to a U.N. arms embargo and other restrictions, which are not technically part of the deal.

The IAEA polices restrictions the deal placed on Iran’s nuclear activities.

Under U.S. law, the State Department must notify Congress every 90 days of Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal. The next deadline is October and Trump has said he thinks by then the United States will declare Iran to be noncompliant……..

Last week, Trump signed into law additional sanctions on Iran, which Tehran said violate the terms of the nuclear agreement. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-nuclear-usa-idUSKBN1AP2AR?il=0

August 11, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

A missile strike on Guam is considered by North Korea

North Korea considers missile strike on Guam after Trump’s ‘fire and fury’ warning, Maureen N. Maratita and Philip Wen, GUAM/DANDONG, China (Reuters) 8 Aug 17,- North Korea said on Wednesday it is considering plans for a missile strike on the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, just hours after President Donald Trump told the North that any threat to the United States would be met with “fire and fury”.

The sharp increase in tensions rattled financial markets and prompted warnings from U.S. officials and analysts not to engage in rhetorical slanging matches with North Korea.

Pyongyang said it was “carefully examining” a plan to strike Guam, which is home to about 163,000 people and a U.S. military base that includes a submarine squadron, an airbase and a Coast Guard group.

A Korean People’s Army spokesman said in a statement carried by state-run KCNA news agency the plan would be put into practice at any moment GUAM/DANDONG, China (Reuters) – North Korea said on Wednesday it is considering plans for a missile strike on the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, just hours after President Donald Trump told the North that any threat to the United States would be met with “fire and fury”.

The sharp increase in tensions rattled financial markets and prompted warnings from U.S. officials and analysts not to engage in rhetorical slanging matches with North Korea.

Pyongyang said it was “carefully examining” a plan to strike Guam, which is home to about 163,000 people and a U.S. military base that includes a submarine squadron, an airbase and a Coast Guard group.

A Korean People’s Army spokesman said in a statement carried by state-run KCNA news agency the plan would be put into practice at any moment ….. GUAM/DANDONG, China (Reuters) – North Korea said on Wednesday it is considering plans for a missile strike on the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, just hours after President Donald Trump told the North that any threat to the United States would be met with “fire and fury”.

The sharp increase in tensions rattled financial markets and prompted warnings from U.S. officials and analysts not to engage in rhetorical slanging matches with North Korea.

Pyongyang said it was “carefully examining” a plan to strike Guam, which is home to about 163,000 people and a U.S. military base that includes a submarine squadron, an airbase and a Coast Guard group.

A Korean People’s Army spokesman said in a statement carried by state-run KCNA news agency the plan would be put into practice at any moment  once leader Kim Jong Un makes a decision……http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles-china-idUSKBN1AO011

August 9, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Donald Trump threatens north Korea with ‘fire and fury’

Trump warns North Korea of ‘fire and fury’, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-depth/us-politics/donald-trump-threatens-fire-and-fury-against-north-korea/news-story/75274296325581df29207164d5c20eb3, CAMERON STEWARTWASHINGTON, The Australian August 9, 2017 

Donald Trump has threatened to hit North Korea with ‘fire and fury like the world has never seen’ if it escalates its nuclear threat against the United States.

His strong words came after the revelation that North Korea has successfully miniaturised a nuclear warhead, removing the last major obstacle to Kim Jong-un’s regime launching a nuclear attack on the United States or Australia.

It was met by a furious response from the president. “(They) best not make any more threats,” he said. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

The frightening new assessment by US intelligence is a game-changer for the west, catapulting the rogue regime into the status of a genuine nuclear weapons state.

“The IC [intelligence community] assesses North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles,” says a confidential US intelligence assessment by the Defence Intelligence Agency reported by the Washington Post.

A separate US intelligence assessment also estimates that North Korea now has as many as 60 nuclear weapons, up the three times the number of previous estimates.

The conclusions are startling because they shows North Korea had developed all aspects of its nuclear and missile capability much faster than previously thought.

The regime successfully tested its first long range ICBM last month, bringing some of continental US and parts of Northern Australia into its missile range.

But the west was still sceptical that North Korea had advanced its technology to be able to miniaturise its nuclear weapons to place them on the ICBM and deliver them to a distant target.

The alarming new assessments come as North Korea threatened ‘thousands-fold revenge’ against the US over its role in obtained UN Security Council agreement for sweeping new sanctions against North Korea.

Donald Trump’s national security adviser HR McMaster said at the weekend that a North Korea with nuclear-tipped ICBMs would be ‘intolerable from the president’s perspective.”

August 9, 2017 Posted by | politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

It’s up to Europe to save the nuclear agreement with Iran: they have 90 days in which to do this

The Europeans have 90 days to save the nuclear agreement with Iran .http://thebulletin.org/europeans-have-90-days-save-nuclear-agreement-iran10992, IAN J. STEWART, Ian Stewart heads Project Alpha at King’s College London and directs the European Non-proliferation and Security Initiative at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-proliferation.8 Aug 17

The Trump administration and Iran are risking Europe’s strategic interests. The European states had pursued a peaceful but verifiable agreement on the Iran nuclear issue since the early 2000s and were key to achieving the nuclear agreement with Iran. The European Union and its member states were among the key actors in negotiating the JCPOA and are now centrally involved in ensuring that Iran adheres to (and doesn’t cheat on) the agreement. This European involvement includes chairing the Joint Commission, the mechanism accepted by all parties and endorsed by the United Nations Security Council as responsible for ensuring that the agreement is fully implemented by all sides.

To date, it has also been the Europeans who have adhered most closely to the letter of the agreement. European countries have lifted sanctions as required by the JCPOA and have engaged in civil nuclear cooperation with Iran on issues like nuclear security. European businesses have also begun to re-engage with Iran, including through one particularly large contract between the French oil company Total and the National Iranian Oil Company to develop a phase of the South Pars oil field. At the same time, European States have taken a firm line when Iran has pushed the bounds of the JCPOA, including its technical violation of the heavy water cap and proposals to import large quantities of uranium from Kazakhstan.

For its part, however, Iran has largely adhered to both the letter and the spirit of the JCPOA. Iran has destroyed the core of the Arak reactor and dismantled vast numbers of centrifuges. And its technical violations have been relatively minor to date. Worryingly, there are signs that Iran has also engaged in some higher risk activities, such as a previously underreported case involving the import of carbon fibre for its missile program, a dual‑use material subject to export controls under the Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines. But to be clear, this case was not considered a violation of the JCPOA by the United States, as the agreement covers only the import of dual-use goods for “Iran’s nuclear programme [as] set out in this JCPOA or other non-nuclear civilian end-use.” Counterintuitively, this language means that imports of nuclear-related dual-use items for a missile-related end use are not considered “civil” and are therefore a violation not of the JCPOA but of UNSCR2231, which prohibits development of missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons. In this case, Iran is evidently pushing the bounds of what is allowed under the JCPOA.

Despite the Trump administration’s rhetoric, the United States has also largely lived up to its commitments under the JCPOA. In particular, the United States lifted—and doesn’t appear to be planning to reverse—its own nuclear-related sanctions. (Washington has taken additional action in relation to Iran’s ballistic missile program, including through the designation of additional entities to be sanctioned.)

Amid this general adherence to the JCPOA, however, President Trump’s harsh anti-Iran rhetoric and the opposition of Iranian hardliners and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps risk undermining the nuclear agreement—an agreement that has undoubtedly has set back Iran’s nuclear weapons potential by many years and is in Europe’s strategic interests.

There’s much more that Europe could do.The Iran nuclear agreement belongs as much to Europe as it does to the other countries involved. European states demonstrated that they were willing to take an economic hit from sanctions to bring the agreement about. They have also invested heavily on the diplomatic front to both achieve and maintain the JCPOA. There is now no question that the European states wish to see full, continued implementation of the JCPOA and would only change this view if Iran committed an egregious violation. For these reasons, the European states have embarked upon a diplomatic and public campaign to persuade the United States that it must not withdraw from the agreement.

To sustain the JCPOA, however, the Europeans must urgently undertake three additional actions to demonstrate to both the United States and Iran that Europe will implement the JCPOA for as long as Iran is in compliance.

First, the Europeans should again explore the possibility of creating a safe financial channel for transactions with Iran. This move would have the dual benefit of encouraging trade with Iran, which has hitherto been slow to pick up, while also making clear to hardliners in the United States that it could not, on its own, undermine the JPCOA by leveraging the international financial system. Second, Europe should be prepared to adopt further sanctions on Iran for any violations of Security Council resolution 2231. This should include both missile launches and violations of the procurement restrictions mentioned above. These two actions would make clear that Europe is committed to implementing the JCPOA regardless of the actions of the United States and, at the same time, that the European countries are not willing to accept egregious action by Iran.

The European Union should embark on a third action. Presently the JCPOA is the best mechanism to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program stays peaceful, but the value of the agreement’s restrictions will reduce over time. By the mid-2020s, Iran will again be scaling up its enrichment effort. Therefore, the EU should begin to search for a longer-term solution both to the Iran nuclear issue and to broader regional tensions. This might best be pursued in the short term through the holding of bilateral dialogues and through civil society discourse on relevant security issues, including the nuclear issue and broader regional security issues.

Europe’s interest and President Trump’s interest align. Although President Trump might feel he can do without the Obama-era JCPOA, in reality the agreement is the best mechanism for both the Europeans and the United States to ensure the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program—at least for the next decade. It is also in the interest of Iran and its people. As such, it is appropriate for the Europeans to use its position and influence to ensure the sustainability for the JCPOA for as long as the IAEA confirms Iran’s compliance.

The Trump administration might resist the idea of a safe European financial channel with Iran or European leadership in relation to broader regional issues. It should nonetheless be willing to accept these measures, given that the result would be to ensure the continued peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program. The alternative would be for the United States to unilaterally weaken is position vis-à-vis Iran and diminish its control over the global financial system, which would be counter to broader US security interests.

President Trump must ultimately decide within 90 days on whether to recertify Iran in compliance or to jeopardize the security interests of both the United States and its closest allies.

August 9, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

New UN sanctions on North Korea: US, South Korea pleased, China is wary

US, South Korea laud new UN sanctions on Pyongyang, Aljazeera, 6 Aug 17   Fresh UN sanctions come amid ASEAN meeting, where Chinese minister is urging North Korean official to abide by measures. The United States, China, Japan and South Korea have all welcomed tough new UN sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes…….

Meanwhile, Japan said it was time to exert more “efffective pressure” on Pyongyang rahter than to pursue dialogue.

“Now is not the time for dialogue but the time to increase effective pressure on North Korea so that they will take concrete actions towards de-nuclearisation,” deputy foreign ministry spokesman Toshihide Ando told a news conference in Manila.

The diplomats are meeting in Manila, the Philippine capital, as foreign ministers from across Asia gather for a regional ASEAN summit. …..

China’s vote on new UN sanctions helped clear the way for the 15-0 vote on Saturday.

Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride, reporting from Beijing, said that China is always careful when dealing with North Korea.

“The last thing China wants to see is North Korea being pushed to the point of its own self-destruction,” he said. “That is almost a worst-case scenario.” http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/08/south-korea-praise-sanctions-north-korea-170806045555844.html

August 7, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment