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The Korea issue is now in the hands of the BRICS

Whether by design or coincidence, the proximate timing of North Korea’s nuclear test and the BRICS summit is extremely relevant.

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While reading into the internal political decisions of North Korea is far from easy, one gets a decidedly better perspective when one assesses North Korean decisions in a broader regional context.

Today’s apparent subterranean detention of a nuclear weapon by Pyongyang, a weapon which is widely thought to be a hydrogen bomb, coincides with the commencement of the 9th annual BRICS Summit in Xiamen, China.

The location of Xiamen vis-a-vis Pyongyang is shown on the map below.

While the BRICS summit is primarily concerned with financial, monetary and trade issues, geo-political issues are inevitably touched upon. This year in particular, with the border disputes between India and China resulting in a summer-long stand-off in the Doklam/Donglang region, the summit is seen as a place to test the extent to which India is willing to engage in dialogue over the matter with China after previously refusing to do so for months.

Many have commented that the proximate timing of India’s withdrawal of troops from Doklam/Donglang and the beginning of the BRICS summit was a calculated move to ease potential awkwardness at a summit aimed at increasing cooperation between BRICS member states which include, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The North Korean issue was always likely to come up in some capacity, but this would have generally been peripheral to the dispute between two BRICS members (India and China).

Now however, due to North Korea’s nuclear test, the issues surrounding the Korean peninsula will almost certainly play a significant part in the discussions.

Is this what Pyongyang intended?

Either by coincidence or by design, the proximate timing of the nuclear test to the start of the BRICS summit means that the Korean ball is now very much in the BRICS court, especially when it comes to North Korea’s neighbours China and Russia who are the leading members of BRICS.

While a US attack on North Korea has always been unlikely, in spite of the disorganisation and inexperience of the Trump White House, with the leaders of the BRICS meeting in a neighbouring state, it is more or less certain that the US wouldn’t make any significant moves on the Korean peninsula at such a time.

This gives the BRICS a chance to make a statement on North Korea that could help instigate an early stage peace process, one that would be authored by countries that generally have a more trust based relationship with Pyongyang vis-a-vis the United States.

Such a thing could ironically help draw India into the fold as while India has disputes with China and remains on historically cordial terms with Russia, New Delhi has generally taken little interest to the Korean issue as it does not directly affect India. That being said, India has always enjoyed vastly better relations with North Korea than most western allied states in Asia and beyond, particularly where trade is concerned. India could also help lessen the controversy of its own nuclear weapons programme by showing a willingness to engage in a multi-lateral discussion on reducing tensions in a situation involving nuclear weapons.

While Brazil and South Africa would lend multi-continental weight to such a joint statement, it cannot be realistically said that Brazil and South Africa have the kinds of entrenched views on North Korea that many in Asia and North America do. Many in South Africa may however remember North Korea’s principled stand against the pre-1994 Apartheid regime. This could only help to enhance the prestige of such a BRICS statement on the matter.

While a nuclear test conducted by North Korea would clearly take time to plan, the date of the BRICS summit has been known for long enough that it would have allowed Pyongyang time to plan such a test to coincide with it.

Furthermore, with the US breaking international law in respect of raiding Russian diplomatic properties, Russia will if anything be more keen to demonstrate to the world, just how little the US is needed to interfere in the affairs of Asian and Eurasian countries.

While North Korea does not have any ‘allies’ per-se in the BRICS, it also does not have any antagonists or enemies.

This is therefore a golden opportunity for the BRICS and North Korea to meet half way and in doing so, the BRICS could also ideally satisfy the concerns of Seoul, all without allowing America to dictate the nature of events.

It could be a clever way to turn a potentially dangerous situation into a cautious win-win situation.

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BobValdez
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BobValdez

Lets hope cool heads prevail and such a win-win situation can be brought about.

Daisy Adler
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Daisy Adler

Without new direct discussions for peace between the two Koreas, the situation remains highly volatile and dangerous. Actually, there is NO military option to solve the problem. Any military incursion would mean the destruction of BOTH Koreas and a lethal danger for the 200,000 Americans present in the South, and Korea’s neighbors China, Russia and Japan.

Franz Kafka
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Franz Kafka

Did ‘Americans’ care about Americans when the USS Liberty was savaged by Israel? Did ‘Americans’ care about Americans when the false flag cum demolition of the WTC was staged? Did Americans care about Americans when the false flag attack on Pearl Harbor was forced on Japan? Did Americans care about Americans when Americans tricked the Russians into shooting down KAL Flight 007?

So, which ‘Americans’ are you referring to?

pogohere
Guest

Re: “So, which ‘Americans’ are you referring to?” The realistic ones: Steve Bannon Isn’t Going Away by Walter Russell Mead, Hudson Institute Fellow (https://www.hudson.org/about/history) (Fat Man: Herman Kahn and the nuclear age, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2005/06/27/fat-man) 22 Aug ’17 Wall Street Journal (excerpted) “President Trump’s highest officials remain committed, one way or another, to defending the global order the US has been building since the Truman era. That includes Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Chief of Staff John Kelly and national security adviser General HR McMaster. These men share a disdain for the Obama administration’s retrenchment and retreat, though… Read more »

Simon
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Simon

Perhaps. A mature and calming statement from the BRICS supporting the double freeze plan would be fine.
But your map suggests a better idea; instead of flying home after the BRICS if Lavrov and the Chinese FM took that flight together to meet Kim it would have huge impact, and get the ball rolling on dialogue.
They could follow up by going to Seoul to see Moon, perhaps symbolically crossing the land border.
It would be the adults stepping in. Whist the US bully sulks in a corner.

John Mason
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John Mason

Very good Simon, may just work.

VeeNarian (Yerevan)
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VeeNarian (Yerevan)

It is time for bold initiatives by the BRICS or the NK situation could easily get out of hand. Perhaps, they are the only grouping that can initiate an end to the Korean War, finally. Why should the world wait for the madmen that control the US/EU/NATO/Japan/SK axis?

my2Cents
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my2Cents

Where are you Simon, surely not in the U.S.??. You make FAR too much sense. :-))

Franz Kafka
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Franz Kafka

Soon the only power remaining to the US will be the power to kill and destroy. And their karma is already among the worst in history. It is hard to believe that the death of the Anglo-Zionist Empire will be a painless one.

Ben
Guest
Ben

The only thing that will stop the US is when the USD is no longer a reserve currency.
Until then, the rest of the world will continue to finance their own destruction.
$20 trillion and counting. Amazing no one can see this ponzi scheme.

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Rod Rosenstein resigns from his post before President Trump can fire him

Rosenstein’s comments about secretly recording the President backfire, and resignation may throw the Mueller Russiagate probe into question.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The Washington Times broke the story that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein resigned from his post. He submitted his resignation to Chief of Staff John Kelly.  At present the breaking story says the following:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is out at the Department of Justice.

Axios reported that Mr. Rosenstein verbally resigned to White House Chief Of Staff John Kelly, but CNN said that he is expecting to be fired.

Sarah Isgur Flores, a Department of Justice spokeswoman, declined to comment on the reports.

Mr. Rosenstein’s departure immediately throws Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian collusion probe into chaos.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation, leaving Mr. Rosenstein in charge.

President Trump mulled firing the No. 2 at the Department of Justice over the weekend.

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This report came after Fox News reported that the Deputy AG was summoned to the White House. Fox reported a little more detail:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is heading to the White House expecting to be fired, sources tell Fox News, in the wake of a report that he suggested wearing a wire against President Trump and invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office last year.

This is a developing story, however one major factor that comes under consideration is the fate of Robert Mueller and his Russiagate investigation, which was authorized by Rosenstein. CNBC had this to say in their piece:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is resigning Monday, according to Axios, which cited a source familiar with the matter.

NBC News’ Pete Williams, however, reported that Rosenstein would not resign of his own accord, and that he will only depart if the White House fired him. He will refuse to resign if asked to do so, Williams added.

Rosenstein was at the White House when Williams reported this on the air. However, President Donald Trump is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

Bloomberg later reported that the White House accepted Rosenstein’s resignation, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Rosenstein’s expected resignation will immediately raise questions about the fate of the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump.

Rosenstein’s job security was called into question after The New York Times reported last week that the No. 2 DOJ official had discussed invoking the 25th amendment to remove Trump, and had also talked about surreptitiously recording the president.

Rosenstein oversees the special counsel investigation, and has appointed Mueller to run the Russia probe last year, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the case.

The special counsel’s office declined to comment on the report.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Axios’ report. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to CNBC’s inquiry.

Trump has repeatedly blasted Mueller’s inquiry, which also is focused on possible collusion with Russia by members of the Trump campaign.

He has called the investigation a “witch hunt,” and has repeatedly vented frustration about Sessions’ recusal, which directly led to Mueller’s appointment by Rosenstein.

Rosenstein’s expected departure comes on the heels of a guilty plea by Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort to conspiracy charges related to his consulting work in Ukraine, which predates his role on the campaign.

As part of the investigation, Mueller’s team has been locked in an ongoing back-and-forth with Trump’s legal team over an in-person interview with the president.

Trump’s lawyers, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have signaled that Trump is unwilling to sit for an interview, calling it a “perjury trap” and setting up a potential challenge for Mueller to subpoena the president.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

 

 

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European Council crushes Theresa May’s soft Brexit dream (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 116.

Alex Christoforou

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May hoped that the European Council was ready to see things her way, in terms of proceeding with a soft Brexit, which was essentially no Brexit at all…at least not the hard Brexit that was voted on in a democratic referendum approximately two years ago.

Much to May’s surprise, European Council President Donald Tusk delivered a death blow verdict for May’s Brexit, noting that EU leaders are in full agreement that Chequers plan for Brexit “will not work” because “it risks undermining the single market.”

Without a miracle compromise springing up come during the October summit, the UK will drift into the March 29, 2019 deadline without a deal and out of the European Union…which was initially what was voted for way back in 2016, leaving everyone asking, what the hell was May doing wasting Britain’s time and resources for two years, so as to return back to the hard Brexit terms she was charged with carrying forward after the 2016 referendum?

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss what was a disastrous EU summit in Salzburg for UK PM Theresa May, in what looks to be the final nail in May’s tenure as UK Prime Minister, as a hard Brexit now seems all but certain.

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Via Zerohedge

Tusk was speaking at the end of an EU summit in Salzburg, where the leaders of the 27 remaining states in the bloc were discussing Brexit. He said that while there were “positive elements” in May’s Chequers plan, a deal that puts the single market at risk cannot be accepted.

“Everybody shared the view that while there are positive elements in the Chequers proposal, the suggested framework for economic co-operation will not work, not least because it is undermining the single market,” Tusk said. He also said that he could not “exclude” the possibility that the UK could exit the EU in March with no deal.

May has been urging her European counterparts to accept her controversial Chequers plan which has split both the Conservative party and the broader UK population after it was thrashed out back in July. However, despite the painfully-slow negotiation process, which appears to have made little headway with just a few months left, the UK is set to leave the EU on March 29 2019 – with or without an exit deal.

The main sticking point that has emerged, and left May and the EU at loggerheads, has been how to avoid new checks on the Irish border. May has claimed that her proposals were the “only serious, credible” way to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland. She said during a press conference after the Salzburg meeting that she would not accept the EU’s “backstop” plan to avoid a Northern Ireland hard border. She said the UK would shortly be bringing forward its own proposals.

May also said that there was “a lot of hard work to be done,” adding that the UK was also preparing for the eventuality of having to leave the EU without a deal. Tusk, meanwhile, said that the upcoming October summit would be the “moment of truth” for reaching a deal, and that “if the conditions are there” another summit would be held in November to “formalize” it.

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Russia makes HUGE strides in drone technology

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The US and Israel are universally recognized leaders in the development and use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones. Thousands of American and Israeli UAVs are operating across the world daily.

The US military has recently successfully tested an air-to-air missile to turn its MQ-9 Reaper drone into an effective long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance unmanned spy aircraft capable of air-to-surface as well as air-to-air missions. This is a major breakthrough. It’s not a secret that Russia has been lagging behind in UAV development. Now its seems to be going to change with tangible progress made to narrow the gap.

Very few nations boast drones capable of high-altitude long endurance (HALE) missions. Russia is to enter the club of the chosen. In late 2017, the Russian Defense Ministry awarded a HALE UAV contract to the Kazan-based Simonov design bureau.

This month, Russian Zvezda military news TV channel showed a video (below) of Altair (Altius) heavy drone prototype aircraft number “03”, going through its first flight test.

Propelled by two RED A03/V12 500hp high fuel efficiency diesel engines, each producing a capacity of 500 hp on takeoff, the 5-ton heavy vehicle with a wingspan of 28.5 meters boasts a maximum altitude of 12km and a range of 10,000km at a cruising speed of 150-250km/h.

Wingspan: about 30 meters. Maximum speed: up to 950 km/h. Flight endurance: 48 hours. Payload: two tons, which allows the creation of a strike version. The vehicle is able to autonomously take off and land or be guided by an operator from the ground.

The UAV can carry the usual range of optical and thermal sensors as well as synthetic-aperture ground-surveillance radar with the resolution of .1 meter at the range of 35km and 1 meter at the range of 125km. The communications equipment allows real-time data exchange.

Russia’s UAV program currently underway includes the development of a range of large, small, and mid-sized drones. The Orion-E medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAV was unveiled at the MAKS 2017 air show. Its developer, Kronstadt Technologies, claims it could be modified for strike missions. The one-ton drone is going through testing now. The Orion-E is capable of automatic takeoff and landing.

It can fly continuously for 24 hours, carrying a surveillance payload of up to 200 kg to include a forward looking infra-red (FLIR) turret, synthetic aperture radar and high resolution cameras. The drone can reach a maximum altitude of 7,500 m. Its range is 250 km.

The Sukhoi design bureau is currently developing the Okhotnik (Hunter) strike drone with a range of about 3,500km. The drone made its maiden flight this year. In its current capacity, it has an anti-radar coating, and will store missiles and precision-guided bombs internally to avoid radar detection.

The Kazan-based Eniks Design Bureau is working on the small T-16 weaponized aerial vehicle able to carry 6 kg of payload.

The new Russian Korsar (Corsair) tactical surveillance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will be upgraded to receive an electronic warfare system. Its operational range will be increased from 150km to 250km. The drone was revealed at Victory Day military parade along with the Korsar unmanned combat helicopter version.

The rotary wing drone lacks the speed and altitude of the fixed wing variant, but has a great advantage of being able to operate without landing strips and can be sea-based. Both drones can carry guided and unguided munitions. The fixed-wing version can be armed with Ataka 9M120 missiles.

The first Russian helicopter-type unmanned aerial vehicle powered by hydrogen fuel cells was presented at the Army-2018 international forum. With the horizontal cruising speed of the drone up to 60 kph, the unmanned chopper can stay in the air at least 2.5 hours to conduct reconnaissance operations. Its payload is up to 5 kg.

Last November, the Kalashnikov Concern reported that it would start production of heavy unmanned aerial vehicles capable of carrying up to several tons of cargo and operating for several days at a time without needing to recharge.

All in all, the Russian military operate 1,900 drones on a daily basis. The multi-purpose Orlan-10 with a range of 600km has become a working horse that no military operation, including combat actions in Syria, can be conducted without. Maj. Gen. Alexander Novikov,
the head of the Russian General Staff’s Office for UAV Development, Russian drones performed over 23,000 flights, lasting 140,000 hours in total.

Russia’s State Armament Program for 2018-2027 puts the creation of armed UAVs at the top of priorities’ list. Looks like the effort begins to pay off. Russia is well on the way to become second to none in UAV capability.

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Via Strategic Culture

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