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North Korea warns Donald Trump: don’t provoke us ahead of the Kim-Trump summit

North Korea accuses Donald Trump of ‘ruining the atmosphere’ by making false claims ahead of the talks

Alexander Mercouris

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A year ago the situation in the Korean Peninsula appeared to be sliding rapidly towards war, with North Korea pressing ahead with its ballistic missile and nuclear tests, with Donald Trump, the US’s newly elected and highly inexperienced President tweeting threats of military action, with General H.R. McMaster, Donald Trump’s hawkish National Security Adviser lobbying for military action, and US fleets moving backwards and forwards towards the Korean Peninsula alongside wild talk that they might be about to be used in action.

A year later the mood is transformed.

Kim Jong-un – North Korea’s much demonised Great Leader – has now held successful summit meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and is negotiating the terms of a summit meeting with US President Donald Trump.

Meanwhile North and South Korea have fielded a joint Olympic team at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, North Korea has announced a freeze of its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme, and the leaders of the two Koreas – Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in – have publicly committed themselves to negotiating a peace treaty between their two countries and to the total denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

What changed?

Firstly, it is clear that the major moves since the start of the year have come from Kim Jong-un.   It was he who proposed that North Korean athletes participate in the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, who sent his sister to attend the Games, who received a high powered South Korean delegation in Pyongyang, and who has now had highly successful summit meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing and with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Panmunjom

President Trump and his officials obviously claim it was the mounting sanctions pressure on North Korea.

The North Koreans strongly reject this and say that by repeatedly making this claim President Trump and his officials are ‘poisoning’ the mood in advance of the Kim-Trump summit.  A recent North Korean statement makes the point in trenchant terms

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea gave the following answer to a question put by KCNA on Sunday as regards the U.S. increased pressure against the DPRK:

Recently, the U.S. is misleading the public opinion, arguing as if the DPRK’s clarification of its intention for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula made through the Panmunjom Declaration adopted at the historic north-south summit is the result of so-called sanctions and pressure.

At the same time, it is making open remarks that it would not ease the sanctions and pressure until the DPRK gives up its nuclear weapons completely and also moving to aggravate the situation on the Korean peninsula by deploying strategic assets on the peninsula and increasing its attempt of taking up “human rights” issue against the DPRK.

The U.S. is deliberately provoking the DPRK at the time when the situation on the Korean peninsula is moving toward peace and reconciliation thanks to the historic north-south summit and the Panmunjom Declaration. This act cannot be construed otherwise than a dangerous attempt to ruin the hardly-won atmosphere of dialogue and bring the situation back to square one.

It would not be conducive to addressing the issue if the U.S. miscalculates the peace-loving intention of the DPRK as a sign of “weakness” and continues to pursue its pressure and military threats against the latter.

The reality is that though the sanctions have undoubtedly hurt the North Korean economy, China and Russia have consistently refused to cut off crude oil deliveries to North Korea, limiting the amount of pain the sanctions are causing.

All the reports of Kim Jong-un’s discussions with the South Korean dignitaries, with Chinese President Xi Jinping and with South Korean President Moon Jae-in  speak of him being in a confident and even buoyant mood, a fact which speaks against him having been forced into negotiations he didn’t want.

All the indications in fact are that Kim Jong-un on the contrary feels that North Korea’s successful development of intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons have put him in a position of strength.  That is why he has now acted to start negotiations with China, South Korea and the US, as he seeks to cash in the advantage North Korea’s ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons have given him.

In fact this has almost certainly been the North Korean game plan right from the start, with the North Koreans having decided a decade ago that they would not be able to force the US to the negotiating table until and unless they were seen to possess intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.

As to what facts has spurred the blizzard of initiatives which have poured out of Pyongyang over the last few months, they are in fact almost certainly traceable to two events which took place last year.

The first was China’s confirmation in August 2017 that it would defend North Korea in the event that the US were to launch a military attack on North Korea intended to overthrow the government there.

I discussed this Chinese commitment to defend North Korea in an article for The Duran dated 11th August 2017.  In it I said the following

Yesterday in an article for The Duran I said that China’s patience with the US was almost exhausted and the Global Times editorial straightforwardly says this, putting the US on the same level of childishness as North Korea and saying that China has given up hope of persuading these two countries to start behaving like grown-ups.  It says that in light of this “reckless” behaviour by both sides – with the greater onus to behave responsibly being however first and foremost on the US since it is by far the stronger party – China is obliged to make clear to both sides what its red lines are

Beijing is not able to persuade Washington or Pyongyang to back down at this time. It needs to make clear its stance to all sides and make them understand thatwhen their actions jeopardize China’s interests, China will respond with a firm hand.

(bold italics added)

Then comes the clear statement of what the red lines are, and what in the event of armed conflict China will do

China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral.If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.

(bold italics added)

In other words if North Korea is so stupid as to launch an unprovoked attack on the US – which in this context probably covers the wild and reckless North Korean threat to launch a missile demonstration against Guam – it is on its own.  However if the US attacks North Korea – either as part of some ‘pre-emptive’ strategy or in order to achieve regime change there, China will come to North Korea’s defence.

The Global Times editorial – wisely – does not spell out what China would in that case do.  However since the discussion is one of war the necessary implication must be that in the event of a US attack on North Korea China will respond militarily.

Probably that response will be graduated and will depend on how severe the US attack on North Korea might be.  However since the editorial says that the survival of the North Korea is a matter of Chinese national interest, the necessary implication must be that in the event of a straightforward US-South Korean invasion of North Korea to achieve regime change there the Chinese response would be direct intervention by the Chinese armed forces to prevent that happening.

China and North Korea have a defence treaty which they agreed with each other in 1961 and which is still active.  Article 2 of the treaty reads as follows

The Contracting Parties undertake jointly to adopt all measures to prevent aggression against either of the Contracting Parties by any state. In the event of one of the Contracting Parties being subjected to the armed attack by any state or several states jointly and thus being involved in a state of war, the other Contracting Party shall immediately render military and other assistance by all means at its disposal.

The Global Times editorial of August 2017 which I discussed in my 11th August 2017 article reaffirmed that China would fulfil its commitment to North Korea under article 2 of the 1961 treaty, something which because of the increasing strain in Chinese-North Korean relations many had started to doubt.

That gave Kim Jong-un and his advisers the vital guarantee of China’s continued commitment to North Korea’s continued independence which they needed in order to press ahead with their opening to the US and to South Korea.

The second event was the coming to power in South Korea of Moon Jae-in, who won South Korea’s Presidential election of 9th May 2017 following the impeachment and removal from office of South Korea’s hardline and (as it turned out) corrupt previous President, Park Geun-hye, the daughter of South Korea’s former dictator Park Chung-hee.

That provided Kim Jong-un with a South Korean leader known to favour dialogue with North Korea whom he could negotiate with as a partner.

The result is North Korea’s proposal for an end to the state of war which has existed in the Korean Peninsula since the 1940s, its proposal for a process of reconciliation and peaceful reintegration of the two Koreas, and lastly its proposal for the total denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, which the North Koreans are quite clear must include the removal of US nuclear forces from the Korean Peninsula as well as their own.

There is also no doubt that the long term plan of the North Koreans (and of the Chinese and the Russians) is to see US military forces removed from South Korea in their entirety.

Donald Trump has publicly ruled that out, as has the South Korean government.  That some people within the South Korean government are however willing to at least consider that possibility has however been confirmed by an article by South Korean Presidential adviser Moon Chung-in which reportedly said that the continued presence of US troops in South Korea would be “difficult to justify” if the two Koreas agreed a peace treaty between them.

As I have previously discussed, diplomatic moves to break the impasse in the Korean conflict first became visible in September and October when a senior North Korean diplomat, Choe Son Hui, engaged in high level contacts in the Foreign Ministry in Moscow.   Anyone who observed those moves closely – and subsequent diplomatic moves involving South Korea and China – would not have been surprised by the sudden breakthrough at the start of the year.

The key to the end of the Korean conflict is not as many insist in sorting out the differences between North Korea and the US.  Rather it is in achieving a reconciliation between the two Koreas.  It is that process which is now underway, and which took a further major step forward in the Kim-Moon summit in Panmunjom.

Neither North Korea nor South Korea have any wish or desire to exclude the US from the discussions, and nor do the other Great Powers which are involved in the conflict: China and Russia.

On the contrary the intention is to replace the present state of war on the Korean Peninsula with a peace treaty of which the US and China would be co-guarantors, with the US and China participating with the two Koreas in what would in effect be a supplemental security treaty.

However, as I have said in the past, if the US digs in its heels and makes demands which appear to obstruct the course of peace in the Korean Peninsula, then North and South Korea and China are perfectly capable of moving ahead with the peace process by themselves without the formal participation of the US.

Not only does the danger of war in the Korean Peninsula create an incentive for such a thing to happen, but the benefits of peace for the two Koreas are so obvious and so strong that if the US tries to impede the process they are highly likely to continue without it.

Suffice to say that directly after his meeting with Kim Jong-un South Korean President Moon Jae-in telephoned Russian President Putin not only to brief him about the talks but in order to obtain Putin’s assurance that the long proposed rail and pipeline projects linking the Korean Peninsula with the rest of Eurasia will immediately proceed as soon as a peace treaty between the two Koreas is in place.

That assurance Putin was fully able – even anxious – to give, as the detailed report of the conversation between him and Moon Jae-in provided by the Kremlin website confirms

The President of the Republic of Korea provided a detailed account of his meeting with the DPRK leader Kim Jong-Un in Panmunjom and its outcomes.

During the conversation, the two sides gave a positive assessment to the agreements that were reached at the meeting, with special focus on the provision in the Panmunjom Declaration stating the intention to achieve the full denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. The two presidents expressed confidence that coordinated steps to promote cooperation between the two Koreas would help the region move toward peace and stability.

Vladimir Putin reaffirmed Russia’s readiness to continue facilitating practical cooperation between the Republic of Korea and the DPRK, including through major trilateral projects in infrastructure and energy.

Vladimir Putin stressed the importance for all the parties concerned to keep up their efforts to achieve a political and diplomatic settlement, including by following the principles set forth in the Russia-China roadmap for a settlement on the Korean Peninsula.

The two presidents also discussed topical bilateral matters focusing on ways of expanding mutually beneficial cooperation in various areas. They also agreed on a schedule of future top-level contacts.

(bold italics added)

The North Korean statement accusing Donald Trump and his officials of ‘poisoning the atmosphere’ in advance of the Kim-Trump summit should be seen for it is: a warning to Donald Trump that his position in advance of the talks is not as strong as he appears to think it is and that he should not overplay his hand.

Conciliatory noises from South Korea – such as the frankly bizarre suggestion that Donald Trump should be given the Nobel Peace Prize – do not erase this warning.

Donald Trump will be given all the plaudits he wants – and more arguably than he deserves – if supports the peace process which is now underway.

He risks being isolated and the US marginalised if instead he obstructs it.

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Republicans call Justice Department’s Bruce Ohr to testify, but where is British Spy Steele? (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 78.

Alex Christoforou

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Representative Mark Meadows tweeted Friday…

“DOJ official Bruce Ohr will come before Congress on August 28 to answer why he had 60+ contacts with dossier author Chris Steele, as far back as January 2016. He owes the American public the full truth.”

Lawmakers believe former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr is a central figure to finding out how the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid PR smear firm Fusion GPS and British spy Christopher Steele to fuel a conspiracy of Trump campaign collusion with Russians at the top levels of the Justice Department and the FBI.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) said Sunday to Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo…

So here you have information flowing from the Clinton campaign from the Russians, likely — I believe was handed directly from Russian propaganda arms to the Clinton campaign, fed into the top levels of the FBI and Department of Justice to open up a counter-intelligence investigation into a political campaign that has now polluted nearly every top official at the DOJ and FBI over the course of the last couple years. It is absolutely amazing,

According to Breitbart, during the 2016 election, Ohr served as associate deputy attorney general, and as an assistant to former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and to then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. His office was four doors down from Rosenstein on the fourth floor. He was also dual-hatted as the director of the DOJ’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.

Ohr’s contacts with Steele, an ex-British spy, are said to date back more than a decade. Steele is a former FBI informant who had helped the FBI prosecute corruption by FIFA officials. But it is Ohr and Steele’s communications in 2016 that lawmakers are most interested in.

Emails handed over to Congress by the Justice Department show that Ohr, Steele, and Simpson communicated throughout 2016, as Steele and Simpson were being paid by the Clinton campaign and the DNC to dig up dirt on Trump.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the role Bruce Ohr played in Hillary Clinton’s Deep State attack against the Presidency of Donald Trump, and why the most central of figures in the Trump-Russia collusion hoax, British spy for hire Christopher Steele, is not sitting before Congress, testifying to the real election collusion between the UK, the Obama White House, the FBI and the DOJ.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via The Washington Times

Republicans in a joint session of House committees are set to interview former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr this month to gauge whether a complex conspiracy against Donald Trump existed among Hillary Clinton loyalists and the Justice Department.

“DOJ official Bruce Ohr will come before Congress on August 28 to answer why he had 60+contacts with dossier author Chris Steele as far back as January 2016. He owes the American public the full truth,” tweeted Rep. Mark Meadows, North Carolina Republican and member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

His panel and the House Judiciary Committee plan to hold a joint hearing to interview Mr. Ohr, according to The Daily Caller.

FBI documents show that the bureau bluntly told dossier writer Christopher Steele in November 2016 that it no longer wanted to hear about his collection of accusations against Mr. Trump.

But for months afterward, the FBI appeared to violate its own edict as agents continued to receive the former British spy’s scandalous charges centered on supposed TrumpRussia collusion.

 

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The US-Turkey Crisis: The NATO Alliance Forged in 1949 Is Today Largely Irrelevant

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Authored by Philip Giraldi via American Herald Tribune:


There has been some reporting in the United States mass media about the deteriorating relationship between Washington and Ankara and what it might mean. Such a falling out between NATO members has not been seen since France left the alliance in 1966 and observers note that the hostility emanating from both sides suggests that far worse is to come as neither party appears prepared to moderate its current position while diplomatic exchanges have been half-hearted and designed to lead nowhere.

The immediate cause of the breakdown is ostensibly President Donald Trump’s demand that an American Protestant minister who has lived in Turkey for twenty-three years be released from detention. Andrew Brunson was arrested 21 months ago and charged with being a supporter of the alleged conspiracy behind the military coup in 2016 that sought to kill or replace President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan has asserted that the coup was directed by former political associate Fetullah Gulen, who lives in exile in Pennsylvania, but has produced little credible evidence to support that claim. In the aftermath of the coup attempt, Erdogan has had himself voted extraordinary special powers to maintain public order and has arrested 160,000 people, including 20 Americans, who have been imprisoned. More than 170,000 civil servants, teachers, and military personnel have lost their jobs, the judiciary has been hobbled, and senior army officers have been replaced by loyalists.

Gulen is a religious leader who claims to promote a moderate brand of Islam that is compatible with western values. His power base consists of a large number of private schools that educate according to his curriculum, with particular emphasis on math and sciences. Many of the graduates become part of a loose affiliation that has sometimes been described as a cult. Gulen also owns and operates a number of media outlets, all of which have now been shut by Erdogan as part of his clamp down on the press. Turkey currently imprisons more journalists than any other country.

It is widely believed that Erdogan has been offering to release Brunson in exchange for Gulen, but President Donald Trump has instead offered only a Turkish banker currently in a U.S. prison while also turning the heat up in the belief that pressure on Turkey will force it to yield. Washington began the tit-for-tat by imposing sanctions on two cabinet-level officials in Erdogan’s government: Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul. Ankara has now also been on the receiving end of a Trump tweet and tariffs have been placed on a broad range of Turkish products, to include steel and aluminum.

The view that economic pressure will force the Turks to yield could be mistaken and demonstrates that the Administration does not include anyone who knows that Americans have been unpopular in Turkey since the Gulf War. The threats from Washington might actually rally skeptical and normally pro-western Turks around Erdogan but U.S. sanctions have already hit the Turkish economy hard, with the lira having lost 40% of its value this year and continuing to sink rapidly. Foreign investors, who fueled much of Turkey’s recent economic growth, have fled the market, suggesting that a collapse in credit might be on the way. Those European banks that hold Turkish debt are fearing a possible default.

It is a spectacle of one NATO member driving another NATO member’s economy into the ground over a political dispute. Erdogan has responded in his autocratic fashion by condemning “interest rates” and calling for an “economic war” against the U.S., telling his supporters to unload all their liquid valuables, gold and foreign to buy the plummeting lira, a certain recipe for disaster. If they do that, they will likely lose everything.

Other contentious issues involved in the badly damaged bilateral relationship are conflicting views on what to do about Syria, where the Turks have a legitimate interest due to potential Kurdish terrorism and are seeking a buffer zone, as well as Ankara’s interest in buying Russian air defense missile systems, which has prompted the U.S. to suspend sales of the new F-35 fighter. The Turks have also indicated that they have no interest in enforcing the sanctions on Iran that were re-imposed last week and they will continue to buy Iranian oil after the November 4th initiation of a U.S. ban on such purchases. The Trump Administration has warned that it will sanction any country that refuses to comply, setting the stage for a massive confrontation between Washington and Ankara involving the Turkish Central Bank.

In terms of U.S. interests, Turkey, which has the second largest army in NATO, is of strategic value because it is Muslim, countering arguments that the alliance is some kind of Christian club working to suppress Islam in the Middle East. And it is also important because of its geographic location close to hot spots where the American military is currently engaged. If the U.S. heeds Trump’s call to cut back on involvement in the region, Turkey will become less valuable, but currently, access to the Incirlik Airbase, near Adana and the Syrian border, is vital.

Indeed, Incirlik has become one of the flashpoints in the argument with Washington. Last week, a group of lawyers connected politically to Erdogan initiated legal action against U.S. officers at Incirlik over claimed ties to “terrorists” linked to Gulen. The “Association for Social Justice and Aid” has called for a temporary halt to all operations at the base to permit a search for evidence. The attorneys are asking for the detention of seven named American Colonels and Lieutenant Colonels. General Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command based in Germany is also cited. If the lawyers are successful in court, it will mean a major conflict as Washington asserts the rights of the officers under the Status of Forces Agreement, while Turkey will no doubt insist that the Americans are criminals and have no protection.

Another trial balloon being floated by Erdogan is even more frightening in terms of the demons that it could be unleashing. Abdurrahman Dilipak, an Islamist columnist writing in the pro-government newspaper Yeni Atik, has suggested that there might well be a second terrorist attack on the United States like 9/11. Dilipak threatened that if Trump does nothing to reduce tension “…some people will teach him [to do] that. It must be seen that if internal tensions with the United States continue like this that a September 11 is no unlikely possibility.” Dilipak also warned that presumed Gulenist “U.S. collaborators” inside Turkey would be severely punished if they dared to go out into the streets to protest in support of Washington.

If recent developments in Turkey deteriorate further it might well suggest that Donald Trump’s instinct to disengage from the Middle East was the right call, though it could equally be seen as a rejection of the tactic being employed, i.e. using heavy-handed sanctions and tariffs to compel obedience from governments disinclined to follow Washington’s leadership. Either way, the Turkish-American relationship is in trouble and increasingly a liability for both sides, yet another indication that the NATO alliance forged in 1949 against the Soviet Union is today largely irrelevant.

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Is This The Most Important Geopolitical Deal Of 2018?

After more than 20 years of fraught diplomatic efforts, the five littoral Caspian nations agreed upon a legal framework for sharing the world’s largest inland body of water.

The Duran

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Authored by Olgu Okumus via Oilprice.com:


The two-decade-long dispute on the statute of the Caspian Sea, the world largest water reserve, came to an end last Sunday when five littoral states (Russia, Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan) agreed to give it a special legal status – it is now neither a sea, nor a lake. Before the final agreement became public, the BBC wrote that all littoral states will have the freedom of access beyond their territorial waters, but natural resources will be divided up. Russia, for its part, has guaranteed a military presence in the entire basin and won’t accept any NATO forces in the Caspian.

Russian energy companies can explore the Caspian’s 50 billion barrels of oil and its 8.4 trillion cubic meters of natural gas reserves, Turkmenistan can finally start considering linking its gas to the Turkish-Azeri joint project TANAP through a trans-Caspian pipeline, while Iran has gained increased energy supplies for its largest cities in the north of the country (Tehran, Tabriz, and Mashhad) – however, Iran has also put itself under the shadow of Russian ships. This controversy makes one wonder to what degree U.S. sanctions made Iran vulnerable enough to accept what it has always avoided – and how much these U.S. sanctions actually served NATO’s interests.

If the seabed, rich in oil and gas, is divided this means more wealth and energy for the region. From 1970 until the dissolution of the Soviet Union (USSR) in 1991, the Caspian Sea was divided into subsectors for Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan – all constituent republics of the USSR. The division was implemented on the basis of the internationally-accepted median line.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the new order required new regulations. The question was over whether the Caspian was a sea or a lake? If it was treated as a sea, then it would have to be covered by international maritime law, namely the United Nations Law of the Sea. But if it is defined as a lake, then it could be divided equally between all five countries. The so-called “lake or sea” dispute revolved over the sovereignty of states, but also touched on some key global issues – exploiting oil and gas reserves in the Caspian Basin, freedom of access, the right to build beyond territorial waters, access to fishing and (last but not least) managing maritime pollution.

The IEA concluded in World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2017 that offshore energy has a promising future. More than a quarter of today’s oil and gas supply is produced offshore, and integrated offshore thinking will extend this beyond traditional sources onwards to renewables and more. Caspian offshore hydrocarbon reserves are around 50 billion barrels of oil equivalent (equivalent to one third of Iraq’s total oil reserves) and 8.4 trillion cubic meters of gas (almost equivalent to the U.S.’ entire proven gas reserves). As if these quantities were not themselves enough to rebalance Eurasian energy demand equations, the agreement will also allow Turkmenistan to build the Trans-Caspian pipeline, connecting Turkmenistan’s resources to the Azeri-Turkish joint project TANAP, and onwards to Europe – this could easily become a counter-balance factor to the growing LNG business in Europe.

Even though we still don’t have firm and total details on the agreement, Iran seems to have gained much less than its neighbors, as it has shortest border on the Caspian. From an energy perspective, Iran would be a natural market for the Caspian basin’s oil and gas, as Iran’s major cities (Tehran, Tabriz, and Mashhad) are closer to the Caspian than they are to Iran’s major oil and gas fields. Purchasing energy from the Caspian would also allow Iran to export more of its own oil and gas, making the country a transit route from the Caspian basin to world markets. For instance, for Turkmenistan (who would like to sell gas to Pakistan) Iran provides a convenient geography. Iran could earn fees for swap arrangements or for providing a transit route and justify its trade with Turkey and Turkmenistan as the swap deal is allowed under the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA, or the D’Amato Act).

If the surface water will be in common usage, all littoral states will have access beyond their territorial waters. In practical terms, this represents an increasingly engaged Russian presence in the Basin. It also reduces any room for a NATO presence, as it seems to be understood that only the five littoral states will have a right to military presence in the Caspian. Considering the fact that Russia has already used its warships in the Caspian to launch missile attacks on targets within Syria, this increased Russian presence could potentially turn into a security threat for Iran.

Many questions can now be asked on what Tehran might have received in the swap but one piece of evidence for what might have pushed Iran into agreement in its vulnerable position in the face of increased U.S. sanctions. Given that the result of those sanctions seems to be Iran agreeing to a Caspian deal that allows Russia to place warships on its borders, remove NATO from the Caspian basin equation, and increase non-Western based energy supplies (themselves either directly or indirectly within Russia’s sphere of geopolitical influence) it makes one wonder whose interests those sanctions actually served?

By Olgu Okumus for Oilprice.com

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