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North Korea tells the world its position – but only one country listens

There is surprisingly little guess-work involved when it comes to understanding North Korea’s position on negotiations. To pretend North Korea is an enigma, is to be as ignorant as Nikki Haley.

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During debates over whether the US will ever be willing to approach North Korea and request a good faith dialogue to calm tensions in the region, one cannot help but think there is a certain useless quality to such questions. How can the US be ready for dialogue with another country when the US appears not even to fully listen to what North Korea says very clearly in public? Forgetting North Korea, when the US doesn’t even listen to North Korea’s neighbours China and Russia, one must come to terms with the impossibility of the US as a good faith dialogue partner.

North Korea’s position vis-a-vis its contemporary weapons programme has always been clear. One needn’t be a spy or have secret drones flying over Pyongyang to ascertain this. One only needs to use the internet to read official statements from the DPRK and listen to what its diplomats say at places like the UN.

North Korea’s current position can be easily defined as follows:

The DPRK will not negotiate the state of its weapons programme until such a time that the DPRK achieves nuclear parity with the United States. 

In this context, parity does not mean the same number of nuclear bombs and nuclear warhead capable missiles as the United States. It would take decades for North Korea to reach such a parity. Instead, North Korea seeks to achieve the ability to deliver a nuclear weapon to US soil, just as the US can do the same in respect of North Korea (and the rest of the world).

North Korea’s latest missile test which saw the launch of the Hwasong-15 ICBM, is, according to North Korea itself, the crowing achievement of this parity. Unlike previous missiles launched by the DPRK which were medium range, the Hwasong-15 is almost certainly a fully-fledged ICBM. According to North Korea, it is capable of delivering a nuclear payload without breaking up upon re-entering earth’s atmosphere. There is of course only one way to know if this is entirely true and that would be if North Korea launched a nuclear weapon using the missile. Thus, such a question is not meaningful as the only way to find out of North Korea is bluffing is by running the risk of what is statistically known as a megadeath.

While North Korea’s previous missile launches were called ICBM launches by Washington, Russia had been quick to point out that they were in fact medium range missiles. This time, the global consensus is that the new missile is the real deal. No one thus far has challenged any of North Korea’s scientific claims in respect of the Hwasong-15. By contrast, many in the weapons watching community are amazed that North Korea was able to achieve such a feat in such a short period of time and without any meaningful outside help.

If one accepts that North Korea has then reached nuclear parity with the US, the next logical question ought to be, is North Korea bluffing in respect of having a willingness to enter discussions with outside powers now that parity has been reached?

The answer which has come from the only major power to have anything approximating healthy relations with North Korea is that North Korea is ready, if the nature of the discussions does not seek to threaten the DPRK’s own security concerns.

Russia has recently sent a delegation to North Korea as part of a highly under-reported diplomatic initiative by Moscow to reach a respectful understanding with North Korea about the current situation in the region. At the same time, Moscow is developing ever closer ties with South Korea. With relations between Seoul and Moscow at an historic high, it would be completely wrong to say that Russia is playing favourites between the Korean states as one could have said during the Cold War.

According to Alexei Chepa who formed part of the Russian delegation to Pyongyang,

“They (North Korea) expect that the Hwasong-15 ICBM will put them on par with the US and guarantee them peace. This is their position: they wanted to demonstrate what they are capable of.

After this launch, North Korea will probably be ready to talk on new conditions”.

Other members of the delegation stressed that at this time, the existance of North Korea’s weapons programme is non-negotiable but that if talks begin now, the DPRK will be willing to entertain long-term de-escalation plans if its security concerns are met by all major regional and global powers. Because Russia accepts North Korea’s totally legitimate security concerns, Russia is a natural mediator of such would-be negotiations. This is especially true as relations between North Korea and China have plummeted in recent years, for reasons that were initially unrelated to Pyongyang’s weapons programme. The governments of Xi Jinping and Kim Jong-un simply do not see eye to eye. Russia, as a closer partner of China, is however in the position to help reduce this tension and unlike the US, China would readily welcome such a thaw.

Kazbek Taisayev, the head of Russia’s legislative delegation who regularly corresponds with his North Korea counterparts has said,

“We discussed this initiative of ours… They are ready for a dialogue,” he said. “They are ready for talks. But they obviously mistrust everyone, except for Russia. My impression is that only Russia could act as a guarantor in such talks… They deem the US impossible to negotiate with”.

Vitaly Pashin who also formed part of the Russian delegation to the DPRK stated,

“We suggest a road map, so that in the future, not now, North Korea could give up on its nuclear program. We have discussed this issue with our colleagues, but they replied by saying that ‘we will never give up on the nuclear program amid the current situation’.

They say, we [North Korea] have launched a ballistic missile… intentionally to be sure that we are safe”.

As the Russian President himself stated publicly, following from the precedent of the US attacking Libya and Iraq, countries which did not have a nuclear deterrent, it is only natural for North Korea to want what amounts to a geo-political insurance policy.

Russia is aware that South Korea, Japan and even China are either worried or irritated by North Korea’s nuclear weapons, while also being aware that North Korea is frightened that if left defenceless, the US could do to it, what the US did during the Korean War. During that war, Pyongyang was entirely destroyed and 600,000 North Koreans were killed. As this happened in the lifetime of many older citizens of the DPRK, it really is not surprising that Pyongyang seeks to arm itself at a time when the US threatens to “destroy” North Korea a second time, as both Donald Trump and his UN Ambassador Nikki Haley have threatened many times.

LAVROV TO US: Come clean about desire to destroy North Korea

By entering into negotiations without preconditions, Russia and both Korean states could eventually reach an accord, one that would likely be in line with the tripartite economic cooperation proposals which Vladimir Putin introduced in September of this year.

Two Koreas–One Road: The future of cooperation between North Korea, South Korea and Russia

At the time, South Korea said they are ready to discuss such plans now and North Korea said they will be ready in the future.

Now that North Korea has achieved its much coveted nuclear parity, the time for such discussions to being will be soon according to Russia. This is of course entirely consistent with North Korea’s public statements.

Of the many differences between the US and Russia, one key difference is that while Russia listens to every country on earth, including the United States, the United States appears only to listen to itself. Is it any wonder that such a country is seen as a poor negotiating partner? Just ask Iran who agreed to de-escalate its own weapons programme, only to be continually threatened by the US and its Israeli partner, a country whose own illegal nuclear weapons are hardly ever discussed, even though it has been at war with every single one of its neighbours and continues to occupy both Syria and Palestine.

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Why did Trump recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory?

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 116.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the reasons behind US President Trump’s sudden recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

Following Trump’s statements as US President, acting Israeli Foreign Minister is saying that Trump will make it official and sign an executive order to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Syrian border territory on Monday.

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Via DW

Israel says White House officials are preparing an official document to codify support for Israel’s sovereignty of the Golan Heights, which will be signed by US President Donald Trump on Monday.

The signing of the decree will be witnessed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during talks with Trump at the White House, Israel’s acting foreign minister, Israel Katz (pictured), said in a Tweet.

“Tomorrow, President Trump, in the presence of PM Netanyahu, will sign a decree recognizing Israel’s sovereignty on the Golan. Israel-US ties are closer than ever,” Katz said.

Israel seized the strategic plateau from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war, subsequently annexing it in 1981 in a move never recognized by the international community.

Trump’s tweet annoys allies

Trump broke with decades of US Middle East policy when he posted a Tweet on Thursday that said it was time to accept Israel’s widely-contested claim to the border territory.

The decision has been criticized by many US allies — Germany, Britain, France and the EU have all said they still consider the Golan Heights to be “occupied” by Israel.

Syria and other states in the region said the recognition, if confirmed, would violate international law.

Netanyahu has long pushed for Washington’s endorsement, and many analysts see Trump’s comments as a campaign gift ahead of Israel’s April 9 election.

In 2017, Trump drew condemnation throughout the Middle East when he recognized the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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Russia Gives US Red Line On Venezuela

Political force is out. Military force is out. Respect international law and Venezuela’s sovereignty. That’s Russia’s eminently reasonable ultimatum to Washington.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


At a high-level meeting in Rome this week, it seems that Russia reiterated a grave warning to the US – Moscow will not tolerate American military intervention to topple the Venezuelan government with whom it is allied.

Meanwhile, back in Washington DC, President Donald Trump was again bragging that the military option was still on the table, in his press conference with Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro. Trump is bluffing or not yet up to speed with being apprised of Russia’s red line.

The meeting in the Italian capital between US “special envoy” on Venezuelan affairs Elliot Abrams and Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov had an air of urgency in its arrangement. The US State Department announced the tête-à-tête only three days beforehand. The two officials also reportedly held their two-hour discussions in a Rome hotel, a venue indicating ad hoc arrangement.

Abrams is no ordinary diplomat. He is a regime-change specialist with a criminal record for sponsoring terrorist operations, specifically the infamous Iran-Contra affair to destabilize Nicaragua during the 1980s. His appointment by President Trump to the “Venezuela file” only underscores the serious intent in Washington for regime change in Caracas. Whether it gets away with that intent is another matter.

Moscow’s interlocutor, Sergei Ryabkov, is known to not mince his words, having earlier castigated Washington for seeking global military domination. He calls a spade a spade, and presumably a criminal a criminal.

The encounter in Rome this week was described as “frank” and “serious” – which is diplomatic code for a blazing exchange. The timing comes at a high-stakes moment, after Venezuela having been thrown into chaos last week from civilian power blackouts that many observers, including the Kremlin, blame on American cyber sabotage. The power grid outage followed a failed attempt by Washington to stage a provocation with the Venezuelan military over humanitarian aid deliveries last month from neighboring Colombia.

The fact that Washington’s efforts to overthrow the elected President Nicolas Maduro have so far floundered, might suggest that the Americans are intensifying their campaign to destabilize the country, with the objective of installing US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido. He declared himself “acting president” in January with Washington’s imprimatur.

Given that the nationwide power blackouts seem to have failed in fomenting a revolt by the civilian population or the military against Maduro, the next option tempting Washington could be the military one.

It seems significant that Washington has recently evacuated its last remaining diplomats from the South American country. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commented on the evacuation by saying that having US personnel on the ground “was limiting” Washington’s scope for action. Also, American Airlines reportedly cancelled all its services to Venezuela in the past week. Again, suggesting that the US was considering a military intervention, either directly with its troops or covertly by weaponizing local proxies. The latter certainly falls under Abrams’ purview.

After the Rome meeting, Ryabkov said bluntly: “We assume that Washington treats our priorities seriously, our approach and warnings.”

One of those warnings delivered by Ryabkov is understood to have been that no American military intervention in Venezuela will be tolerated by Moscow.

For his part, Abrams sounded as if he had emerged from the meeting after having been given a severe reprimand. “No, we did not come to a meeting of minds, but I think the talks were positive in the sense that both sides emerged with a better understanding of the other’s views,” he told reporters.

“A better understanding of the other’s views,” means that the American side was given a red line to back off.

The arrogance of the Americans is staggering. Abrams seems, according to US reporting, to have flown to Rome with the expectation of working out with Ryabkov a “transition” or “compromise” on who gets the “title of president” of Venezuela.

That’s what he no doubt meant when he said after the meeting “there was not a meeting of minds”, but rather he got “a better understanding” of Russia’s position.

Washington’s gambit is a replay of Syria. During the eight-year war in that country, the US continually proffered the demand of a “political transition” which at the end would see President Bashar al Assad standing down. By contrast, Russia’s unflinching position on Syria has always been that it’s not up to any external power to decide Syria’s politics. It is a sovereign matter for the Syrian people to determine independently.

Nearly three years after Russia intervened militarily in Syria to salvage the Arab country from a US-backed covert war for regime change, the American side has manifestly given up on its erstwhile imperious demands for “political transition”. The principle of Syrian sovereignty has prevailed, in large part because of Russia’s trenchant defense of its Arab ally.

Likewise, Washington, in its incorrigible arrogance, is getting another lesson from Russia – this time in its own presumed “back yard” of Latin America.

It’s not a question of Russia being inveigled by Washington’s regime-change schemers about who should be president of Venezuela and “how we can manage a transition”. Moscow has reiterated countless times that the legitimate president of Venezuela is Nicolas Maduro whom the people voted for last year by an overwhelming majority in a free and fair election – albeit boycotted by the US-orchestrated opposition.

The framework Washington is attempting to set up of choosing between their desired “interim president” and incumbent Maduro is an entirely spurious one. It is not even worthy to be discussed because it is a gross violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty. Who is Washington to even dare try to impose its false choice?

On Venezuela, Russia is having to remind the criminal American rulers – again – about international law and respect for national sovereignty, as Moscow earlier did with regard to Syria.

And in case Washington gets into a huff and tries the military option, Moscow this week told regime-change henchman Abrams that that’s a red line. If Washington has any sense of rationale left, it will know from its Syria fiasco that Russia has Venezuela’s back covered.

Political force is out. Military force is out. Respect international law and Venezuela’s sovereignty. That’s Russia’s eminently reasonable ultimatum to Washington.

Now, the desperate Americans could still try more sabotage, cyber or financial. But their options are limited, contrary to what Trump thinks.

How the days of American imperialist swagger are numbered. There was a time when it could rampage all over Latin America. Not any more, evidently. Thanks in part to Russia’s global standing and military power.

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With RussiaGate Over Where’s Hillary?

Hillary is the epitome of envy. Envy is the destructive sin of coveting someone else’s life so much they are obsessed with destroying it. It’s the sin of Cain. She envies what Trump has, the Presidency.

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Authored by Tom Luongo:


During most of the RussiaGate investigation against Donald Trump I kept saying that all roads lead to Hillary Clinton.

Anyone with three working brain cells knew this, including ‘Miss’ Maddow, whose tears of disappointment are particularly delicious.

Robert Mueller’s investigation was designed from the beginning to create something out of nothing. It did this admirably.

It was so effective it paralyzed the country for more than two years, just like Europe has been held hostage by Brexit. And all of this because, in the end, the elites I call The Davos Crowd refused to accept that the people no longer believed their lies about the benefits of their neoliberal, globalist agenda.

Hillary Clinton’s ascension to the Presidency was to be their apotheosis along with the Brexit vote. These were meant to lay to rest, once and for all time, the vaguely libertarian notion that people should rule themselves and not be ruled by philosopher kings in some distant land.

Hillary’s failure was enormous. And the RussiaGate gambit to destroy Trump served a laundry list of purposes to cover it:

  1. Undermine his legitimacy before he even takes office.
  2. Accuse him of what Hillary actually did: collude with Russians and Ukrainians to effect the outcome of the election
  3. Paralyze Trump on his foreign policy desires to scale back the Empire
  4. Give aid and comfort to hurting progressives and radicalize them further undermining our political system
  5. Polarize the electorate over the false choice of Trump’s guilt.
  6. Paralyze the Dept. of Justice and Congress so that they would not uncover the massive corruption in the intelligence agencies in the U.S. and the U.K.
  7. Isolate Trump and take away every ally or potential ally he could have by turning them against him through prosecutor overreach.

Hillary should have been thrown to the wolves after she failed. When you fail the people she failed and cost them the money she cost them, you lose more than just your funding. What this tells you is that she has so much dirt on everyone involved, once this thing started everyone went along with it lest she burn them down as well.

Burnin’ Down da House

Hillary is the epitome of envy. Envy is the destructive sin of coveting someone else’s life so much they are obsessed with destroying it. It’s the sin of Cain

She envies what Trump has, the Presidency.

And she was willing to tear it down to keep him from having it no matter how much damage it would do. She’s worse than the Joker from The Dark Knight.

Because while the Joker is unfathomable to someone with a conscience there’s little stopping us from excising him from the community completely., even though Batman refuses.

Hillary hates us for who we are and what we won’t give her. And that animus drove her to blackmail the world while putting on the face of its savior.

And that’s what makes what comes next so obvious to me. RussiaGate was never a sustainable narrative. It was ludicrous from the beginning. And now that it has ended with a whimper there are a lot of angry, confused and scared people out there.

Mueller thought all he had to do was lean on corrupt people and threaten them with everything. They would turn on Trump. He would resign in disgrace from the public outcry.

It didn’t work. In the end Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen and Roger Stone all held their ground or perjured themselves into the whole thing falling apart.

Andrew Weissman’s resignation last month was your tell there was nothing. Mueller would pursue this to the limit of his personal reputation and no further.

Just like so many other politicians.

Vote Your Pocketbook

With respect to Brexit I’ve been convinced that it would come down to reputations.

Would the British MP’s vote against their own personal best interests to do the bidding of the EU?

Would Theresa May eventually realize her historical reputation would be destroyed if she caves to Brussels and betrays Brexit in the end?

Always bet on the fecklessness of politicians. They will always act selfishly when put to the test. While leading RussiaGate, Mueller was always headed here if he couldn’t get someone to betray Trump.

And now his report is in. There are no new indictments. And by doing so he is saving his reputation for the future. And that is your biggest tell that HIllary’s blackmail is now worthless.

They don’t fear her anymore because RussiaGate outed her as the architect. Anything else she has is irrelevant in the face of trying to oust a sitting president from power.

The progressives that were convinced of Trump’s treason are bereft; their false hope stripped away like standing in front of a sandblaster. They will be raw, angry and looking for blood after they get over their denial.

Everyone else who was blackmailed into going along with this lunacy will begin cutting deals to save their skins. The outrage over this will not end. Trump will be President when he stands for re-election.

The Wolves Beckon

The Democrats do not have a chance against him as of right now. When he was caving on everything back in December it looked like he was done. That there was enough meat on the RussiaGate bones to make Nancy Pelosi brave.

Then she backed off on impeachment talk. Oops.

But the Democrats have a sincere problem. Their candidates have no solutions other than to embrace the crazy and go full Bolshevik. That is not a winning position.

Trump will kill them on ‘socialism.’

The Deep State and The Davos Crowd stand revealed and reviled.

If they don’t do something dramatic then the anger from the rest of the country will also be palpable come election time. Justice is not done simply by saying, “No evidence of collusion.”

It’s clear that RussiaGate is a failure of monumental proportions. Heads will have to roll. But who will be willing to fall on their sword at this point?

Comey? No. McCabe? No.

There is only one answer. And Obama’s people are still in place to protect him. I said last fall that “Hillary would indict herself.” And I meant it. Eventually her blackmail and drive to burn it all down led to this moment.

The circumstances are different than I expected back then, Trump didn’t win the mid-terms. But the end result was always the same. If there is no collusion, if RussiaGate is a scam, then all roads lead back to Hillary as the sacrificial lamb.

Because the bigger project, the erection of a transnational superstate, is bigger than any one person. Hillary is expendable.

Lies are expensive to maintain. The truth is cheap to defend. Think of the billions in opportunity costs associated with this. Once the costs rise above the benefits, change happens fast.

If there is any hope of salvaging the center of this country for the Democrats, the ones that voted against Hillary in 2016, then there is no reason anymore not to indict Hillary as the architect of RussiaGate.

We all know it’s the truth. So, the cheapest way out of this mess for them is to give the MAGApedes what they want, Hillary.

And hope that is enough bread and circuses to distract from the real storm ahead of us.

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