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US sanctions policy against North Korea is wrong and dangerous. Here’s why.

Provoking a crisis in a nuclear armed state is a disastrous idea

Alexander Mercouris

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The recent Global Times editorial, discussed by me in my article on UN Security Council Resolution 2753, has spoken of US attempts to use sanctions to ‘collapse’ North Korea’s economy and to ‘suffocate’ the North Korean regime as an idea that is both dangerous and counterproductive

Some Americans and South Koreans have attempted to collapse Pyongyang’s economy and suffocate the current Pyongyang regime. This is dangerous. North Korea’s nuclear crisis requires arduous efforts to find a final solution, and any attempt to immediately end the crisis will only escalate tensions and eventually jeopardize self-interests.

This is exactly correct.  Indeed one of the most concerning aspects of the swirl of discussion that takes place in the West and the US especially about sanctions on North Korea is that there is never any real explanation of what sanctions on North Korea are supposed to achieve.

Every so often Western leaders speak of sanctions as intended either to ‘force’ the North Koreans to negotiate – though since the US refuses to give North Korea security guarantees it is never made clear what the North Koreans are supposed to agree to ‘negotiate’ about – or to abandon their ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme entirely.

If these are the objectives behind the sanctions policy, then it has visibly failed.  Since North Korea carried out its first nuclear test on 9th October 2006 there have been eight UN Security Council Resolutions imposing sanctions on North Korea, whilst the US has imposed unilateral sanctions of its own.  Far from deterring the North Koreans from pursuing their ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme or causing them to abandon it, the North Koreans have instead accelerated it.

That sanctions, however severe they become, will never persuade the North Koreans to give up their ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme was recently pointed out by President Putin of Russia. Speaking in his usual direct way, President Putin set out the position clearly on 5th September 2017 at a press conference in China following the latest BRICS summit

Sanctions of any kind are useless and ineffective in this case. As I said to one of my colleagues yesterday, they will eat grass, but they will not abandon this programme unless they feel safe.

Whilst few world leaders have the confidence to say this as forcefully as President Putin did, the comments at the UN Security Council meeting on Monday at which Resolution 2753 was passed of the ambassadors of China, Italy, Sweden, Egypt, Uruguay, Bolivia, Kazakhstan, Senegal, South Korea and Ethiopia, show that privately it is widely shared.  In comments which were clearly addressed to the US, all of them in their different ways pressed for negotiations to begin with the North Koreans without further delay, though none of them spelt out exactly how these negotiations should take place.

If sanctions will not force the North Koreans to give up their ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme, what else might they achieve?

One possibility is that they will achieve nothing.  North Korea’s Juche economic policy is specifically intended to insulate North Korea from the effect of sanctions.  As I have recently pointed out, despite the various sanctions which have been imposed on North Korea since 2006, its economy is apparently growing strongly.  The latest sanctions imposed on North Korea by Resolution 2753 will not change that.

More likely is that the sanctions will reduce North Korea’s economic growth and inflict greater hardship on its people.  Since that will not however stop North Korea from pursuing its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme, it is difficult to see the sense of this.

Resolution 2753 speaks at length of the UN Security Council’s concern for the welfare of North Korea’s people.  How is that consistent with imposing sanctions, which will reduce their welfare but which will not prevent or even slow down the North Korean government’s pursuit of its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme, which is the ostensible target of the sanctions?

A less likely alternative, but one which as Global Times rightly says “some Americans and South Koreans” are clearly aiming for, is that the sanctions will provoke an economic and eventually a political crisis in North Korea, putting in jeopardy the existence of the North Korean regime.

Not only is that the least likely alternative, but it is also by far the most dangerous.  North Korea is now a nuclear armed state in possession of ballistic missiles which have Tokyo and Seoul within range.  Given the nature of the North Korean regime and its possession of both ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, it is difficult to imagine any more dangerous scenario than one in which it comes to fear for its survival because of an internal crisis caused by sanctions imposed upon it by the US.

It is commonly though rather glibly said that the US has no ‘good options’ with respect to North Korea.  Though that may be true, there are most definitely some options which are far worse than others.  If launching a military attack on North Korea is the worst option of all, engineering an internal crisis within North Korea seems hardly better.

It is difficult to avoid the impression that the reason the US continues to press for sanctions against North Korea is not because it has any coherent plan for what these sanctions are supposed to achieve.

It is because the US hates being backed into a corner and having to retreat, and rather than do this and lose face it instead strikes out at North Korea in the only way it can, with more and more sanctions.  That doing this is either pointless or dangerous apparently matters less than the loss of face negotiating with Pyongyang might cause.

Negotiating with Pyongyang is something that the US will however eventually have to do.  The comments of the ambassadors at the debate in the UN Security Council shows that even some US allies like Italy and Sweden are now close to demanding it.

With the Chinese and the Russians clearly signalling that the sanctions route is now all but exhausted, and with the Chinese-Russian roadmap for the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula visibly gaining traction, the US risks becoming isolated in the UN Security Council if it persists with its current stance.

Should that position ever be reached, the US could find that a security treaty brokered by the Chinese and the Russians and backed by a majority of UN Member States is agreed by the two Koreas in which the US has no part.

For the ‘exceptional’ ‘indispensable’ country – which is what the US claims itself to be – that would of course be the greatest humiliation of all.

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Hamletquest
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Hamletquest

2375 Alexander?

Unfortunately for the ‘exceptional’ ‘indispensable’ country they are fast losing their face over so many issues.

Their arrogance and hubris gets in the way of any logic regarding the changing geo-political landscape.

Le Ruse
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Le Ruse

Exceptional ??

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have
heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more
children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price—we think the price is worth it.!

JNDillard
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JNDillard

Has North Korea shown any interest to date of taking Putin up on his offer to develop three-way economic projects with North and South Korea and Russia? This is, of course, an intrinsically beneficial direction for all three and for the world as a whole.

Shahna
Guest

Read somewhere they’ve expressed interest “but not yet.”

Shahna
Guest

It’s time for the nations of the world (and the UN esp) to grow a spine.

1. North Korea is not a member of the NPT – the treaty therefore does not apply to them.
2. All nations with military programs research and test ballistic missiles incl. IR and IC.

Voltaire
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Voltaire

Former President Carter said on Tuesday, http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-09-13/i-know-what-north-korea-wants-president-carter-warns-us-oligarchy-refuses-do-it “The first thing I would do is treat the North Koreans with respect.” “I know what the North Koreans want,” he said. “What they want is a firm treaty guaranteeing North Korea that the US will not attack them or hurt them in any way, unless they attack one of their neighbors.” Carter said, “But the United States has refused to do that.” Carter said he would send his top person to Pyongyang immediately, adding: “If I didn’t go myself.” The former president visited North Korea three times between 1994 and 2011. “Until… Read more »

samo war
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samo war

World is crazy cia matrix ???
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=B_F91aOhfDw

JNDillard
Guest
JNDillard

Fearing loss of face is the quickest and surest way to generate a loss of face.

tjoes
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tjoes

Israel has 200 ++ nukes and is ALWAYS threatening it’s neighbors. I see Israel as more of a threat (read samson option) than NK. Israel was a perp of 9/11….count on it (read Oded Yinon plan for growth of Israel by “regime change” ).

Jett_Rucker
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Lead? Like plumbum?

Latest

Secret deal between DOJ and Clinton lawyers exposes Deep State corruption (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 111.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss newly released transcripts from disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok that reveal the US Department of Justice and the Clinton Lawyers struck a secret deal that blocked the FBI from accessing Clinton Foundation emails, during the Hillary home server “investigation”.

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Via Zerohedge


The Justice Department and Hillary Clinton’s legal team “negotiated” an agreement that blocked the FBI from accessing emails on Clinton’s homebrew server related to the Clinton Foundation, according to a transcript of recently released testimony from last summer by former FBI special agent Peter Strzok.

Under questioning from Judiciary Committee General Counsel Zachary Somers, Strzok acknowledged that Clinton’s private personal email servers contained a mixture of emails related to the Clinton Foundation, her work as secretary of state and other matters.

“Were you given access to [Clinton Foundation-related] emails as part of the investigation?” Somers asked

We were not. We did not have access,” Strzok responded. “My recollection is that the access to those emails were based on consent that was negotiated between the Department of Justice attorneys and counsel for Clinton.” –Fox News

Strzok added that “a significant filter team” was employed at the FBI to “work through the various terms of the various consent agreements.”

“According to the attorneys, we lacked probable cause to get a search warrant for those servers and projected that either it would take a very long time and/or it would be impossible to get to the point where we could obtain probable cause to get a warrant,” said Strzok.

The foundation has long been accused of “pay-to-play” transactions, fueled by a report in the IBTimes that the Clinton-led State Department authorized $151 billion in Pentagon-brokered deals to 16 countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation – a 145% increase in completed sales to those nations over the same time frame during the Bush administration. 

Adding to speculation of malfeasance is the fact that donor contributions to the Clinton Foundation dried up by approximately 90% over a three-year period between 2014 and 2017, according to financial statements.

What’s more, Bill Clinton reportedly received a $1 million check from Qatar – one of the countries which gained State Department clearance to buy US weapons while Clinton was Secretary of State, even as the department signaled them out for a range of alleged ills,” according to IBTimes. The Clinton Foundation confirmed it accepted the money.

Then there was the surely unrelated $145 million donated to the Foundation from parties linked to the Uranium One deal prior to its approval through a rubber-stamp committee.

“The committee almost never met, and when it deliberated it was usually at a fairly low bureaucratic level,” Richard Perle said. Perle, who has worked for the Reagan, Clinton and both Bush administrations added, “I think it’s a bit of a joke.” –CBS

Later in his testimony last summer, Strzok said that agents were able to access “the entire universe” of information on the servers by using search terms to probe their contents – saying “we had it voluntarily.”

“What’s bizarre about this, is in any other situation, there’s no possible way they would allow the potential perpetrator to self-select what the FBI gets to see,” said former Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz – former chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee until 2017 and current contributor to Fox News. “The FBI should be the one to sort through those emails — not the Clinton attorneys.

Chaffetz suggested that the goal of the DOJ was to “make sure they hear no evil, see no evil — they had no interest in pursuing the truth.”

“The Clinton Foundation isn’t supposed to be communicating with the State Department anyway,” said Chaffetz. “The foundation — with her name on it — is not supposed to be communicating with the senior officials at the State Department.”

Republican-led concerns that the DOJ, under the Obama administration, was too cozy with the Clinton team during the 2016 presidential campaign have grown louder in recent days. Earlier this week, Fox News exclusively reviewed an internal chart prepared by federal investigators working on the so-called “Midyear Exam” probe into Clinton’s emails. The chart contained the words “NOTE: DOJ not willing to charge this” next to a key statute on the mishandling of classified information.

The notation appeared to contradict former FBI Director James Comey’s repeated claims that his team made its decision that Clinton should not face criminal charges independently.

But Strzok, in his closed-door interview, denied that the DOJ exercised undue influence over the FBI, and insisted that lawyers at the DOJ were involved in an advisory capacity working with agents. –Fox News

Strzok was fired from the FBI after months of intense scrutiny over anti-Trump text messages he exchanged with his mistress – FBI lawyer Lisa Page. Both Strzok and Page were involved at the highest levels of both the Clinton email investigation and the counterintelligence investigation on President Trump and his 2016 campaign.

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US continues to try to corner Russia with silence on Nukes

Moscow continues to be patient in what appears to be an ever more lopsided, intentional stonewalling situation provoked by the Americans.

Seraphim Hanisch

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TASS reported on March 17th that despite Russian readiness to discuss the present problem of strategic weapons deployments and disarmament with its counterparts in the United States, the Americans have not offered Russia any proposals to conduct such talks.

The Kremlin has not yet received any particular proposals on the talks over issues of strategic stability and disarmament from Washington, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS on Sunday when commenting on the statement made by US National Security Adviser John Bolton who did not rule out that such talks could be held with Russia and China.

“No intelligible proposals has been received [from the US] so far,” Peskov said.

Earlier Bolton said in an interview with radio host John Catsimatidis aired on Sunday that he considers it reasonable to include China in the negotiation on those issues with Russia as well.

“China is building up its nuclear capacity now. It’s one of the reasons why we’re looking at strengthening our national missile defense system here in the United States. And it’s one reason why, if we’re going to have another arms control negotiation, for example, with the Russians, it may make sense to include China in that discussion as well,” he said.

Mr. Bolton’s sense about this particular aspect of any arms discussions is correct, as China was not formerly a player in geopolitical affairs the way it is now. The now all-but-scrapped Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, was a treaty concluded by the US and the USSR leaders Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, back in 1987. However, for in succeeding decades, most notably since the fall of the Soviet Union, the US has been gradually building up weaponry in what appears to be an attempt to create a ring around the Russian Federation, a situation which is understandably increasingly untenable to the Russian government.

Both sides have accused one another of violating this treaty, and the mutual violations and recriminations on top of a host of other (largely fabricated) allegations against the Russian government’s activities led US President Donald Trump to announce his nation’s withdrawal from the treaty, formally suspending it on 1 February. Russian President Vladimir Putin followed suit by suspending it the very next day.

The INF eliminated all of both nations’ land based ballistic and cruise missiles that had a range between 500 and 1000 kilometers (310-620 miles) and also those that had ranges between 1000 and 5500 km (620-3420 miles) and their launchers.

This meant that basically all the missiles on both sides were withdrawn from Europe’s eastern regions – in fact, much, if not most, of Europe was missile-free as the result of this treaty. That is no longer the case today, and both nations’ accusations have provoked re-development of much more advanced systems than ever before, especially true considering the Russian progress into hypersonic and nuclear powered weapons that offer unlimited range.

This situation generates great concern in Europe, such that the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on both Moscow and Washington to salvage the INF and extend the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, or the New START as it is known.

“I call on the parties to the INF Treaty to use the time remaining to engage in sincere dialogue on the various issues that have been raised. It is very important that this treaty is preserved,” Guterres said at a session of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Monday.

He stressed that the demise of that accord would make the world more insecure and unstable, which “will be keenly felt in Europe.” “We simply cannot afford to return to the unrestrained nuclear competition of the darkest days of the Cold War,” he said.

Guterres also urged the US and Russia to extend the START Treaty, which expires in 2021, and explore the possibility of further reducing their nuclear arsenals. “I also call on the United States and the Russian Federation to extend the so-called New START Treaty before it expires in 2021,” he said.

The UN chief recalled that the treaty “is the only international legal instrument limiting the size of the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals” and that its inspection provisions “represent important confidence-building measures that benefit the entire world.”

Guterres recalled that the bilateral arms control process between Russia and the US “has been one of the hallmarks of international security for fifty years.”

“Thanks to their efforts, global stockpiles of nuclear weapons are now less than one-sixth of what they were in 1985,” the UN secretary-general pointed out.

The Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the New START Treaty) entered into force on February 5, 2011. The document stipulates that seven years after its entry into effect each party should have no more than a total of 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers, as well as no more than 1,550 warheads on deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs and strategic bombers, and a total of 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and strategic bombers. The new START Treaty obliges the parties to exchange information on the number of warheads and carriers twice a year.

The new START Treaty will remain in force during 10 years until 2021, unless superseded by a subsequent agreement. It may be extended for a period of no more than five years (that is, until 2026) upon the parties’ mutual consent. Moscow has repeatedly called on Washington not to delay the issue of extending the Treaty.

 

 

 

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Trump witch hunt dots connected: CNN to Steele to John McCain (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 110.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss documents released which show that Christopher Steele admitted to using posts by ‘random individuals’ on the CNN community website ‘iReport’ in order to back up his fabricated Trump dossier.

President Trump took note of Steele’s use of CNN citizen journalist posts, in a twitter tirade that blasted the British ex-spy for running with unverified community generated content from a now now-defunct ‘iReports’ website as part of his research.

Trump the proceeded to rip into late neocon Arizona Senator John McCain, tweeting that it was “just proven in court papers” that “last in his class” McCain sent the Steele’s dossier to media outlets in the hopes that they would print it prior to the 2016 US election.

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Via The Daily Caller

A federal court unsealed 43 pages Thursday of a deposition that former British spy Christopher Steele gave as part of a lawsuit over his infamous anti-Trump dossier.

To the disappointment of many observers, the full deposition was not unsealed in Thursday’s motion. Instead, portions of Steele’s interview, which he gave in London on July 13, 2018, were unsealed in separate court filings submitted in the lawsuit.

Steele’s full deposition totaled 145 pages. The portions published Thursday focus mainly on questions about the dossier’s claims about Aleksej Gubarev, a tech executive who Steele alleges took part in the hacking of Democrats’ computer systems.

Gubarev has vehemently denied the claim and sued Steele and BuzzFeed News, which published the dossier on Jan. 10, 2017.

U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro, who handled the lawsuit, ordered a slew of previously sealed documents to be made public Thursday. Ungaro dismissed the lawsuit on Dec. 19 but did not weigh in on whether the dossier’s claims about Gubarev were accurate.

It is unclear whether Steele’s entire deposition will be released. A source familiar with Steele’s interview tempered expectations of any bombshells in the document, saying that Steele avoided going into detail about his efforts to create the dossier and his sources.

A deposition given by former State Department official David Kramer was perhaps the most enlightening document contained in the dump.

Kramer, a longtime associate of late Arizona Sen. John McCain, was BuzzFeed’s source for the dossier. Kramer shared the dossier with at least 11 other reporters, including CNN’s Carl Bernstein. (RELATED: John McCain Associate Gave Dossier To A Dozen Reporters)

Kramer obtained the dossier in late November 2016 after visiting Steele in London. Steele acknowledged that Kramer and McCain were picked as conduits to pass the dossier to then-FBI Director James Comey. McCain met with Comey on Dec. 9, 2016 and provided all of the dossier’s memos that had been written up to that point.

“I think they felt a senior Republican was better to be the recipient of this rather than a Democrat because if it were a Democrat, I think that the view was that it would have been dismissed as a political attack,” Kramer said in the deposition when asked why Steele and his business partners at Fusion GPS wanted McCain to meet with Comey.

Via Washington Examiner

Former British spy Christopher Steele admitted that he relied on an unverified report on a CNN website for part of the “Trump dossier,” which was used as a basis for the FBI’s investigation into Trump.

According to deposition transcripts released this week, Steele said last year he used a 2009 report he found on CNN’s iReport website and said he wasn’t aware that submissions to that site are posted by members of the public and are not checked for accuracy.

web archive from July 29, 2009 shows that CNN described the site in this manner: “iReport.com is a user-generated site. That means the stories submitted by users are not edited, fact-checked, or screened before they post.”

In the dossier, Steele, a Cambridge-educated former MI6 officer, wrote about extensive allegations against Donald Trump, associates of his campaign, various Russians and other foreign nationals, and a variety of companies — including one called Webzilla. Those allegations would become part of an FBI investigation and would be used to apply for warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

During his deposition, Steele was pressed on the methods he used to verify allegations made about Webzilla, which was thought to be used by Russia to hack into Democratic emails.

When asked if he discovered “anything of relevance concerning Webzilla” during the verification process, Steele replied: “We did. It was an article I have got here which was posted on July 28, 2009, on something called CNN iReport.”

“I do not have any particular knowledge of that,” Steele said when asked what was his understanding of how the iReport website worked.

When asked if he understood that content on the site was not generated by CNN reporters, he said, “I do not.” He was then asked: “Do you understand that they have no connection to any CNN reporters?” Steele replied, “I do not.”

He was pressed on this further: “Do you understand that CNN iReports are or were nothing more than any random individuals’ assertions on the Internet?” Steele replied: “No, I obviously presume that if it is on a CNN site that it may has some kind of CNN status. Albeit that it may be an independent person posting on the site.”

When asked about his methodology for searching for this information, Steele described it as “what we could call an open source search,” which he defined as “where you go into the Internet and you access material that is available on the Internet that is of relevance or reference to the issue at hand or the person under consideration.”

Steele said his dossier contained “raw intelligence” that he admitted could contain untrue or even “deliberately false information.”

Steele was hired by the opposition research firm Fusion GPS to investigate then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016. Fusion GPS was receiving funding at the time from the Clinton campaign and the DNC through the Perkins Coie law firm.

The series of memos that Steele would eventually compile became known as the “Trump Dossier.” The dossier was used in FISA applications to surveil Trump campaign associate Carter Page.

When asked whether he warned Fusion GPS that the information in the dossier might be “Russian disinformation,” Steele admitted that “a general understanding existed between us and Fusion … that all material contained this risk.”

Steele also described his interactions with Sen. John McCain’s aide, David Kramer, whose own deposition showed that he provided BuzzFeed with a copy of the dossier and had spoken with more than a dozen journalists about it.

“I provided copies of the December memo to Fusion GPS for onward passage to David Kramer at the request of Sen. John McCain,” Steele said. “Sen. McCain nominated him as the intermediary. I did not choose him as the intermediary.”

When asked if he told Kramer that he couldn’t “vouch for everything that was produced in the memos,” Steele replied, “Yes, with an emphasis on ‘everything.'”

When asked why he believed it was so important to provide the dossier to Sen. McCain, Steele said: “Because I judged it had national security implications for the United States and the West as a whole.”

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