Posts Tagged ‘Nikki Haley’

U.S. Envoy Haley Says Trump ‘Not Happy’ With Iran Nuclear Deal

September 20, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump does not like the Iran nuclear deal, but his speech to the United Nations on Tuesday did not mean that the United States would abandon the pact, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said on Wednesday.

“It’s not a clear signal that he plans to withdraw. What it is is a clear signal that he’s not happy with the deal,” Haley told CBS News in an interview.

If Trump does not certify in October that Iran is complying with the agreement, the U.S. Congress will have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions waived under the 2015 international accord.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; editing by Grant McCool)

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China Stands With Myanmar: “We Understand the Problems” (China has experience with Muslims)

September 19, 2017

The Associated Press

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Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a televised speech to the nation at the Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo)

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar (AP) — The Latest on the violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh (all times local):11:50 a.m.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says that Beijing “understands and supports Myanmar’s efforts to maintain national stability.”

Wang’s comments, made in New York during a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, came amid a surge in violence in Myanmar, with hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingyas fleeing their villages for safety in Bangladesh. Myanmar’s government conducted what it called “clearance operations” after deadly insurgent attacks last month, but the refugees have said security forces and mobs carried out indiscriminate killings and arsons that burned out Rohingya enclaves in the predominantly Buddhist nation.

The comments were released Tuesday by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Wang also said that “China looks forward to the war falling silent as soon as possible, when innocents will no longer be hurt,” adding that China would be providing emergency humanitarian assistance to Bangladesh to deal with the flood of refugees from Myanmar.

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Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a televised speech to the nation at the Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo)

11:20 a.m.

Rohingya Muslims who fled violence in Myanmar are rejecting leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s claims that many members of their minority group are safe.

Suu Kyi said Tuesday that most Rohingya villages weren’t hit by violence. She invited foreign diplomats gathered in the capital for her speech to visit villages that were unaffected.

In the Kutupalong refugee camp in nearby Bangladesh, Abdul Hafiz says Rohingya once trusted Suu Kyi more than the military that ruled before her for half a century. Now he calls Suu Kyi a “liar” and says Rohingya are suffering more than ever.

Hafiz was angered by the implication that Rohingya who were driven from their villages were themselves responsible. He said if that’s true, Suu Kyi should give international journalists more access to their destroyed villages. If Rohingya are proven wrong, he says, “we will not mind if the world decides to kill us all by pushing us into the sea.”

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10:30 a.m.

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi is defending her country against international criticism over an exodus of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims by saying most of their villages remain intact, and that it’s important to understand why conflict did not break out everywhere.

The Nobel Peace laureate’s global image has been damaged by violence since Rohingya insurgents attacked Myanmar security forces on Aug. 25. More than 400,000 Rohingya have fled their villages, many of which have been burned. The government has blamed the Rohingya themselves, but members of the persecuted minority have said soldiers and Buddhist mobs attacked them.

Suu Kyi told foreign diplomats gathered in Naypyitaw that “more than half” of Rohingya villages were not affected by the violence. She invited the diplomats with visit those villages so they could learn along with the government “why are they not at each other’s throats in these particular areas.”

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Aung San Suu Kyi addresses nation on Rohingya violence in Myanmar

September 19, 2017

World leaders have said this speech is Aung San Suu Kyi’s last chance to avoid international action against Myanmar. A crackdown on the country’s Muslim minority has led to a mass exodus into Bangladesh.

 Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has addressed her nation in a hotly anticipated television address.
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Image result for Suu Kyi, photos, september 19, 2017
Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a televised speech to the nation at the Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo)

The 72-year-old Nobel laureate spoke about her country’s crackdown on the stateless Rohingya minority, which she had so far remained silent on. Her refusal to publicly urge restraint from the military had drawn international condemnation.

“We condemn all human rights violations and unlawful violence. We are committed to the restoration of peace and stability and rule of law throughout the state,” Suu Kyi said in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyidaw.

Before her live broadcast address, world powers had warned Myanmar of potential action if it did not act to end the crackdown on the Rohingya minority in Rakhine state.

Read more: Rohingya people in Myanmar: what you need to know

Suu Kyi said she “felt deeply” for the suffering of the civilians who were caught up in the conflict and that she wanted to end the suffering as soon as possible.

“We are concerned to hear the number of Muslims fleeing areas to Bangladesh,” she said, condemning any “human rights violations” that may have exacerbated the crisis. She asked for the international community’s help to finding a solution, adding that Myanmar did not fear international scrutiny.

UN probe ‘not helpful’

Yet one of her officials, Myanmar’s envoy to the UN Htin Lynn seemed to qualify that claim when he told the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday that a UN-backed investigation into the crisis was “not a helpful course of action.”  He added “proportionate security measures, targeted only on terrorists, are being taken to safeguard our state sovereignty, and to restore law and order.”

During the meeting, the head of the probe said Suu Kyi’s government was not cooperating fully with his investigation. Marzuki Dursman said his team needed “full and unfettered access to the country” and that the inquest could not proceed “until there is a clear signal from the government of Myanmar that the fact-finding mission is in fact enabled to access into the country.”

Suu Kyi nevertheless invited diplomats to visit Rohingya Muslim villages in her speech, insisting that most had not been affected by the violence.

“The majority of Muslims have not joined the exodus,” she said. “We want to find out why this exodus is happening.”

Suu Kyi claims picture unclear

The de facto leader, propped up by the military that used to rule Myanmar outright and retains considerable influence, also claimed that there was no clear picture of the events in Rakhine state.

“We too are concerned. We want to find out what the real problems are. There have been allegations and counter-allegations. We have to listen to them all,” she said.

Suu Kyi promised to implement the recommendations of the Annan commission delivered in August. The commission, led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, looked at how to solve the sectarian tensions in the country.

The report warned against using force and to end restrictions on movement and citizenship for Rohingya people.

International outrage has grown steadily in recent weeks over a military crackdown that has led to the exodus of more than 400,000 of Myanmar’s Muslim minority to neighboring Bangladesh in less than a month.

Myanmar’s government has blamed the crisis on Rohingya insurgents who attacked security posts in late August. But the United Nations has described its response as “ethnic cleansing.”

Read more:UN Security Council condemns excessive violence in Myanmar

‘Last Chance’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had said on Monday the speech was “a last chance” for Suu Kyi to change her country’s course, speaking to the BBC.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson met on the sidelines of a UN meeting with representatives from several countries to discuss the crisis. His US counterpart, Nikki Haley, called Monday’s meeting “productive” but voiced alarm at the lack of progress on the ground.

“The United States continues to urge the Burmese government to end military operations, grant humanitarian access and commit to aiding the safe return of civilians back to their homes,” she said.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called for “a collective response by the international community” and “a system to try to ensure [the Rohingya’s] protection.”

amp, aw/msh (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

Includes videos:

http://www.dw.com/en/aung-san-suu-kyi-addresses-nation-on-rohingya-violence-in-myanmar/a-40572212

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UN investigators demand ‘full, unfettered’ access to Myanmar

AFP

 
© AFP/File | A house burns in Gawdu Tharya village near Maungdaw in Rakhine state, northern Myanmar, on September 7, 2017
GENEVA (AFP) – UN human rights investigators on Tuesday said they needed “full and unfettered” access to Myanmar to investigate a grave and ongoing crisis, but the government renewed its rejection of the probe.”It is important for us to see with our own eyes the sites of these alleged violations”, the head of UN-backed fact-finding mission, Marzuki Darusman, told the Human Rights Council, asking for “full and unfettered access to the country.”

“There is a grave humanitarian crisis underway that requires urgent attention”, he added.

The council set up the mission in March to investigate possible violations across Myanmar, with a particular focus on alleged crimes committed against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state.

Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi has repeatedly denounced the UN probe as unhelpful and vowed that her government would not cooperate with it.

Suu Kyi earlier Tuesday delivered a nationally televised address on the Rohingya crisis, appealing for outside observers to visit Myanmar and see the situation for themselves, in a speech aimed at appeasing an international community horrified by the army-led violence in Rakhine.

But hours after that speech, Myanmar’s UN ambassador Htin Lynn re-asserted his government?s “position of disassociating herself from the resolution” that set up the fact-finding mission.

“We continue to believe that instituting such a mission is not a helpful course of action in solving the already-intricated Rakhine issue”, he told the council.

Darusman had upped the pressure on Myanmar to grant access, arguing it was “in the government?s interest and in the interests of the people of Myanmar to communicate their views and evidence directly to the (UN) mission.”

He added that the probe “had urgently dispatched a team to Bangladesh”, where more than 400,000 Rohingya have fled army operations in recent weeks.

The UN investigator, an Indonesian national and veteran of past UN investigations including a ground-breaking report on slave labour in North Korea, warned that Myanmar had the “danger signs” of a crisis that could worsen.

He noted reports that some in majority Buddhist Myanmar had spread propaganda that “compared the Rohingya to pests”.

Trump to Push Nationalist Policy at U.N.

September 19, 2017

In his first speech at a U.N. General Assembly, president will appeal to others’ self-interest on North Korea, Iran and terror

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United States President Donald Trump attends a meeting during the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters. AP photo

UNITED NATIONS—President Donald Trump’s first address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday will lay out a foreign policy rooted in his view of nationalism and sovereignty and anchored by “America First” principles, according to a senior White House official.

Mr Trump will call for more burden sharing and co-operation among countries on issues including the fight on terrorism, North Korea’s nuclear and military threat, and Iran’s adherence to a multinational nuclear deal.

He will also mention reforms at the UN and the role countries play in enabling North Korea’s regime, though it wasn’t clear whether Mr Trump will blame specific nations for keeping Pyongyang’s economy afloat despite global sanctions. He is expected also to address the crisis in Venezuela.

The address will combine the nationalistic theme of his campaign with an appeal to the nationalism of other countries as a new basis for international co-operation, the senior official said.

“It will be a foreign policy that is driven by outcomes, not by ideologies,” the official said. “What the president is doing is explaining how the principle of America First is not only consistent with the goal of international co-operation, but a rational basis for every country to engage in co-operation.”

US President Donald Trump and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres shake hands during a meeting on United Nations reform, September 18, 2017 | Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The official said Mr Trump dedicated considerable time to drafting, developing and finetuning his speech with his advisers because he viewed the address as “an incredible moment and an enormous opportunity to demonstrate US leadership and US values.”

Mr Trump’s speech will be delivered with the use of a Teleprompter — although he is best known for speaking informally and off the cuff — in an effort to convincingly present a foreign-policy doctrine.

Mr Trump also will air a frequent grievance of his that the US is shouldering too much of the financial and military burden as a global leader. He will call for more participation from other countries in the defining battles of the early 21st century, echoing themes of his campaign rallies and previous foreign-policy speeches.

In his first international address as president, in June in Saudi Arabia, Mr Trump called on the Muslim world to join the US and other countries in the fight against terrorism, echoing a theme voiced by his predecessors. A month later, in Warsaw, the president attempted to rally Europe to defend “the West” and its civilisation, asking pointedly: “Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost?”

Mr Trump’s speech will be closely watched by world leaders as well as diplomats and UN officials looking to gauge Washington’s policies under an administration that has kept countries guessing on whether the US will honour or abandon the Iran deal, or pursue diplomatic or military options on North Korea.

On some issues, such as pressuring North Korea and combating terrorism, Mr Trump has the support and sympathy of the international community, and thus more leeway to push for the US agenda. On other issues, such as the Iran nuclear deal and climate change, he faces stern opposition and pushback for demanding changes to previous agreements.

“The [Iran nuclear] agreement is solid and we will make sure the agreement is strictly implemented,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters in New York, adding that so far there had been no indications of a breach by Iran.

Mr Trump will share the world stage with French President Emmanuel Macron, who is expected to praise the Iran deal and the Paris Climate Agreement as successes of international diplomacy.

Mr Macron may end up being seen as the anti-isolationist and antinationalist leader of the West during the General Assembly this week, with Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel absent this year because of elections at home.

Also absent this year are other prominent leaders who typically would speak on the General Assembly’s first day, such as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping.

Despite possible differences in views among leaders, analysts said what Mr Trump says matters simply because he is the US president.

“They [world leaders] will look for Trump to balance the rhetoric with some statements making a case for international co-operation,” said Richard Gowan, an expert on the U.N. at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “What Trump can do is say, ‘You help me with North Korea and UN costs and I will stick with this organisation.’ As long as he gives that pitch, a large number of diplomats and politicians will be relatively happy.”

Mr Trump pressed his case on the cost of US support for the international organisation on while chairing a meeting of more than 100 international leaders. He called on the U.N. to “focus more on people and less on bureaucracy,” in comments during the meeting of international officials as the annual General Assembly gathering got under way.

The “ways of the past,” he said, are “not working.”

“We must ensure that no one and no member state shoulders a disproportionate share of the burden, and that’s militarily and financially,” Mr Trump said. His remarks were similar to those made by previous US leaders.

Mr Trump was accompanied at the event by U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who also stands to come under the spotlight this week at her first General Assembly as the U.S. envoy to the U.N. She has emerged as an important foreign-policy figure in the Trump administration and often has been the first to voice Washington’s policies on global issues including Syria’s war, North Korea and Iran, frequently overshadowing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

“She is a very influential voice in the administration,” a Security Council diplomat said, adding that during negotiations over tougher sanctions on North Korea, Ms. Haley projected the impression that she was driving North Korea policy.

Mr Trump also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying the two continue pressing for Middle East peace.

“I think there’s a good chance that it could happen,” Mr. Trump said. “Historically, people say it can’t happen. I say it can happen.”

The US and Israeli leaders both have criticised the 2015 international nuclear agreement with Iran, though Mr. Trump wouldn’t say in response to a question whether he intends to withdraw from the agreement.

“You’ll see very soon,” Mr. Trump said.

 https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-to-push-nationalist-policy-at-u-n-1505782800
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Korean peninsula draws range of military drills in show of force against North Korea

September 18, 2017

North Korean leader Kim Jong-UnIMAGE: NORTH KOREAN LEADER KIM JONG-UN AT A PHOTO SESSION WITH THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE 8TH CONGRESS OF THE KOREAN CHILDREN’S UNION (KCU) IN PYONGYANG, ON JUNE 6, 2017. (STR/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

BEIJING/SEOUL (Reuters) – The U.S. military staged bombing drills with South Korea over the Korean peninsula and Russia and China began naval exercises ahead of a U.N. General Assembly meeting on Tuesday where North Korea’s nuclear threat is likely to loom large.

The flurry of military drills came after Pyongyang fired another mid-range ballistic missile over Japan on Friday and the reclusive North conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3 in defiance of United Nations sanctions and other international pressure.

A pair of U.S. B-1B bombers and four F-35 jets flew from Guam and Japan and joined four South Korean F-15K fighters in the latest drill, South Korea’s defense ministry said.

The joint drills were being conducted “two to three times a month these days”, Defence Minister Song Young-moo told a parliamentary hearing on Monday.

In Beijing, the official Xinhua news agency said China and Russia began naval drills off the Russian far eastern port of Vladivostok, not far from the Russia-North Korea border.

Those drills were being conducted between Peter the Great Bay, near Vladivostok, and the southern part of the Sea of Okhotsk, to the north of Japan, it said.

The drills are the second part of China-Russian naval exercises this year, the first part of which was staged in the Baltic in July. Xinhua did not directly link the drills to current tension over North Korea.

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File photo of combined Russia and China naval exercises

China and Russia have repeatedly called for a peaceful solution and talks to resolve the issue.

On Sunday, however, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the U.N. Security Council had run out of options on containing North Korea’s nuclear program and the United States might have to turn the matter over to the Pentagon.

In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the most pressing task was for all parties to enforce the latest U.N. resolutions on North Korea fully, rather than “deliberately complicating the issue”.

Military threats from various parties have not promoted a resolution to the issue, he said.

“This is not beneficial to a final resolution to the peninsula nuclear issue,” Lu told a daily news briefing.

U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed that North Korea will never be able to threaten the United States with a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile.

Asked about Trump’s warning last month that the North Korean threat to the United States would be met with “fire and fury”, Haley said: “It was not an empty threat.”

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In this photo provided by South Korean Defense Ministry, a U.S. Air Force B-1B bomber, right, and South Korean fighter jets conduct a joint training exercises over the Korean Peninsula. (South Korean Defense via AP)

Washington has also asked China to do more to rein in its neighbor and ally, while Beijing has urged the United States to refrain from making threats against the North.

FUEL PRICES SURGE

The U.N. Security Council unanimously passed a U.S.-drafted resolution a week ago mandating tougher new sanctions against Pyongyang that included banning textile imports and capping crude and petrol supply.

Gasoline and diesel prices in the North have surged since the latest nuclear test, according to market data analyzed by Reuters on Monday.

The international community must remain united and enforce sanctions against North Korea after its repeated launch of ballistic missiles, Japanese Prime Minister Shinto Abe said in an editorial in the New York Times on Sunday.

Such tests were in violation of Security Council resolutions and showed that North Korea could now target the United States or Europe, he wrote.

Abe also said diplomacy and dialogue would not work with North Korea and concerted pressure by the entire international community was essential to tackle the threats posed by the north and its leader, Kim Jong Un.

However, the official China Daily argued on Monday that sanctions should be given time to bite and that the door must be left open to talks.

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”With its Friday missile launch, Pyongyang wanted to give the impression that sanctions will not work,“ it said in an editorial. ”Some people have fallen for that and immediately echoed the suggestion, pointing to the failure of past sanctions to achieve their purpose.

“But that past sanctions did not work does not mean they will not. It is too early to claim failure because the latest sanctions have hardly begun to take effect. Giving the sanctions time to bite is the best way to make Pyongyang reconsider,” the newspaper said.

Pyongyang has launched dozens of missiles as it accelerates a weapons program designed to provide the ability to target the United States with a powerful, nuclear-tipped missile.

It says such programs are needed as a deterrent against invasion by the United States, which has 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea. On Saturday, it said it aimed to reach an “equilibrium” of military force with the United States.

The United States and South Korea are technically still at war with North Korea because the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce and not a peace treaty.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING and Hyonhee Shin in SEOUL; Editing by Paul Tait and Clarence Fernandez

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US flies bombers over Korean peninsula for drill — US, South Korea and Japan vowing to exert “stronger pressure” on North Korea

September 18, 2017

AFP

© JIJI PRESS/AFP/File | A US F-35B stealth fighter seen taxiing at the US Marine Iwakuni Air Station in Japan in January

SEOUL (AFP) – The US flew four stealth fighter jets and two bombers over the Korean peninsula on Monday in a show of force after North Korea’s latest nuclear and missile tests, a report said.Four F-35B stealth fighters and two B-1B bombers staged “mock bombing drills” over the peninsula Monday morning, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said, citing an unidentified Seoul government source.

If confirmed, they would be the first flights since the North conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3 and staged an intermediate-range missile test over Japan last Friday, sending regional tensions soaring.

The US jets trained together with four South Korean F-15K jet fighters before returning to their bases in Japan and Guam, Yonhap quoted the source as saying.

The previous such flights were on August 31. The US military could not immediately confirm the latest flights.

The US is ramping up pressure on the North, with its ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley warning that Pyongyang would be “destroyed” if it refused to end its “reckless” weapons drive.

Efforts to tame the increasingly belligerent North are set to dominate US President Donald Trump’s address to the UN General Assembly and his meetings with South Korean and Japanese leaders this week.

Tensions flared again when Kim Jong-Un’s regime tested what it termed a hydrogen bomb many times more powerful than its previous device.

The North also fired a ballistic missile over Japan and into the Pacific on Friday, responding to new UN sanctions over its atomic test with what appeared to be its longest-ever missile flight.

Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-In spoke by phone Saturday and vowed to exert “stronger pressure” on the North, with Moon’s office warning that further provocation would put it on a “path of collapse.”

Trump has also not ruled out a military option, which could leave millions of people in the South Korean capital — and 28,500 US soldiers stationed in the South — vulnerable to potential retaliatory attack.

Trump’s National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said the US would “have to prepare all options” if sanctions prove insufficient to stop the North’s weapons drive.

Nikki Haley Says U.N. Has Exhausted Options on North Korea — Could she replace Tillerson?

September 17, 2017

WASHINGTON — The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Sunday that the U.N. Security Council has run out of options on containing North Korea’s nuclear program and the United States may have to turn the matter over to the Pentagon.

“We have pretty much exhausted all the things that we can do at the Security Council at this point,” Haley told CNN’s “State of the Union,” adding that she was perfectly happy to hand the matter to Defense Secretary James Mattis. “We’re trying every other possibility that we have but there’s a whole lot of military options on the table.”

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Mary Milliken)

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Tillerson heads to U.N. gathering with Haley waiting in the wings

The former South Carolina governor is widely seen as a leading candidate to succeed the Texas oilman as secretary of state should he leave the Trump administration.

Nikki Haley is pictured. | Getty Images
As grounds for accepting the U.N. post, now-Ambassador Nikki Haley insisted that it maintain the Cabinet-level status it enjoyed under President Barack Obama — a rare elevation in a Republican administration. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The disagreement among Trump administration officials and Washington’s foreign policy intelligentsia is not about if but rather when U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley eclipsed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as America’s top diplomat.

As President Donald Trump heads to New York for his first United Nations General Assembly, the weeklong gathering is being viewed as the most public test yet for the shrunken diplomat at Foggy Bottom – an opportunity for Tillerson to reassert himself by the president’s side as something more than a bean-counter, or risk being overshadowed by Haley on the most high-profile stage to date.

It would be unprecedented for a U.N. ambassador to upstage a secretary of state at the diplomatic Super Bowl. UNGA is typically a frenetic week of parties, speeches, bilateral meetings and Manhattan traffic jams, during which the ambassador cedes the yearlong spotlight she enjoys at U.N. headquarters to officials higher up the food chain.

But “unprecedented” is the Trump administration’s unofficial slogan. And Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, is seen as one of its most ambitious players, competing for prominence against a former Exxon Mobil CEO, who has been criticized for accepting the lead role at the State Department only to oversee a dramatic shrinkage of its budget and influence.

“[John] Kerry and [Hillary] Clinton were big names and would get a lot of attention” at UNGA, said Ned Price, a former National Security Council official in the Obama administration. “The U.N. ambassador would, in some ways, serve as the emcee and have a more behind-the-scenes role. Now, I have a feeling we’ll see Nikki Haley much more engaged in the substance in a higher profile way.”

Haley is expected to attend almost all of the bilateral meetings with Trump and Tillerson, an amped-up role for the ambassador. She has also been involved in reviewing the remarks Trump is expected to deliver Tuesday, which will mark Trump’s main event of the week.

On Friday, speaking to reporters from the White House briefing room, Haley noted that in the speech, the president “slaps the right people, he hugs the right people.”

Her presence behind the podium was notable. Tillerson was returning from closed-door meetings at the British Foreign Ministry in London, leaving Haley fielding questions about North Korea and America’s foreign policy priorities for the week alongside National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

It is Tillerson, however, who is scheduled to address the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in a rare speech in front of the Security Council this week, a State Department spokesman said. Haley has no scheduled speaking role.

But Haley’s large and growing profile has made her the most-discussed candidate to eventually succeed Tillerson.

“Nikki Haley gave up being the governor of a really important state for this position,” said Kori Schake, a former official in the George W. Bush State Department who has also co-authored a book with Defense Secretary James Mattis. “I don’t see the logic of the U.N. ambassador position as the end state of that decision.”

Tillerson was a onetime favorite of Trump’s, someone he viewed as a peer and spent more one-on-one time with at the White House than any other cabinet official. But the Texas oilman has clashed with senior White House aides, killed morale in the agency and walled himself off among a small group of top aides.

While Tillerson has not spoken openly about departing, speculation in White House circles about who might replace him has focused on two candidates: Haley and CIA director Mike Pompeo, another favorite of Trump’s. But Pompeo, a former congressman, is not seen as eager to leave a job he loves, while Haley has been asserting herself as someone ready for something bigger since she joined the administration.

As grounds for accepting the U.N. post, Haley insisted that it maintain the cabinet-level status it enjoyed under President Barack Obama — a rare elevation in a Republican administration.

She does not view herself as someone who reports to Tillerson, people who have worked with both principals said. She regularly video-conferences into National Security Council meetings and speaks freely with the press, often charting her own course without seeking sign-off from the White House or the State Department.

That course is often notably at odds with Trump’s America First vision of the world. Haley’s tough talk about human rights, Russian malfeasance and the need to oust Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is more in line with the hawkish takes of Republicans like Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. She has won praise from conservative outlets like the National Review that have been outright hostile to Trump.

So far, it seems to have cost her nothing. In an administration where most officials see only downside to cultivating a public profile in the media, Haley has become the face of the administration’s foreign policy apparatus — without chafing the president, at least so far, even when she contradicts him or seems to hog the media glare.

On Friday, for instance, she touted the latest U.N. sanctions resolution that unanimously passed last week as a major accomplishment, even after Trump referred to them as “just another very small step, not a big deal.”

“We have cut off now 90 percent of trade going into North Korea,” she said. “It was a massive sanctions bill.”

Taking on extra press briefings and television interviews is a role that some of her colleagues are more than happy for her to fill. McMaster, aides said, loathes the Sunday show circuit, venting privately that he feels like the appearances only serve to “box him in.” Tillerson and Mattis have both made it clear they would prefer to work off-camera.

“Diplomacy isn’t a competition,” said State Department spokesman R.C. Hammond. “There are people with different styles of communicating and leadership.”

In the opening months of the administration, Haley’s go-it-alone style made for some detractors in the West Wing. “She took a major foreign trip while the president was on his inaugural trip abroad,” said one former administration official, referring to her visit to refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan as Trump touched down in Saudi Arabia last spring. “It was borderline disrespectful,” the former official said. “We’d joke that we needed to be worried about her in 2020, and not John Kasich.”

But with growing frustration surrounding the missing-in-action Tillerson, more administration officials are boosting Haley as someone who at least is clear about what she is trying to achieve.

For Haley, it’s been a quick build from foreign policy novice to lead envoy on the international stage. “It could be that foreign policy experience is overrated and political experience is underrated,” said Schake, noting that the Trump administration is testing theories of what outside skills are transferrable to government positions. “Are business skills easily transferable to government leadership? Apparently not. Are political skills transferrable to foreign policy skills? Apparently so.”

Some White House advisers point to the speech Haley delivered earlier this month on the Iran nuclear deal as “the final nail in Tillerson’s coffin.”

The speech, in which Haley floated the idea that the president could force the Iran deal into Congress’ lap by simply declaring Iran noncompliant, marked the most substantive Iran comments to date from any administration official. Haley was a surprising messenger, given that the U.N. plays a limited role in the 2015 nuclear agreement, and it was Tillerson’s predecessor, Kerry, who typically managed the issue. They were also delivered at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington — Tillerson’s home turf.

Others shrugged off the speech, saying that was just words delivered to a friendly neo-conservative think tank audience. It was passing U.N. Security Council sanctions against North Korea that marked Haley’s “moment,” they say, a demonstration that she can deliver real outcomes on the international stage.

A third role reversal that administration officials point to was Haley’s trip to Vienna, last month, instead of Tillerson, to review Iran nuclear activities.

Another camp looks at the dynamic and does not see Haley as the abnormal player on the international scene, but more like the latest in a long line of ambitious U.N. ambassadors like Jeane Kirkpatrick, Madeleine Albright and Susan Rice.

Instead, they point at Tillerson, who’s been overseeing a top-to-bottom reorganization of the 75,000-person State Department since taking over. “The more unusual piece is him,” said Ilan Goldenberg, a former State Department official under John Kerry. “The only thing he seems fixated on is this review.”

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even expressed confusion about Tillerson in an interview last week with NBC’s Rachel Maddow. “Why take a job that you’re not willing to dive in and learn about,” Clinton said, expressing dismay that he has never reached out to any of his predecessors for any historical context on diplomatic relations, and calling him “largely invisible.”

The friction between the ambitious, public-facing Haley and the isolated, media-wary Tillerson has become noticeable in meetings.

Cabinet officials have remarked at Tillerson’s disrespectful tone toward Haley during meetings, as well as her refusal to defer to him. Asked to comment on their relationship, Hammond said the two “serve together in the cabinet. They speak frequently on issues of the day.”

As to whether Haley is angling for the top job at the State Department, he replied, “I have no idea. I really don’t.”

A spokesperson for the U.S. mission to the U.N. said: “This sort of palace intrigue is silly; Ambassador Haley and Secretary Tillerson work together frequently and well.”

As for Haley’s strategy at UNGA next week, he added: “The focus should be fully on the president, his speech, and his discussions with foreign leaders.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/17/tillerson-haley-united-nations-meeting-trump-242807

Trump weighing aggressive Iran strategy — More than 80 experts urge Trump not to abandon Iran nuclear deal

September 14, 2017
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WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – President Donald Trump is weighing a strategy that could allow more aggressive U.S. responses to Iran’s forces, its Shi’ite Muslim proxies in Iraq and Syria, and its support for militant groups, according to six current and former U.S. officials.

The proposal was prepared by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and other top officials, and presented to Trump at a National Security Council meeting on Friday, the sources said.

It could be agreed and made public before the end of September, two of the sources said. All of the sources are familiar with the draft and requested anonymity because Trump has yet to act on it.

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In contrast to detailed instructions handed down by President Barack Obama and some of his predecessors, Trump is expected to set broad strategic objectives and goals for U.S. policy but leave it to U.S. military commanders, diplomats and other U.S. officials to implement the plan, said a senior administration official.

“Whatever we end up with, we want to implement with allies to the greatest extent possible,” the official added.

The White House declined to comment.

The plan is intended to increase the pressure on Tehran to curb its ballistic missile programs and support for militants, several sources said.

“I would call it a broad strategy for the range of Iranian malign activities: financial materials, support for terror, destabilization in the region, especially Syria and Iraq and Yemen,” said another senior administration official.

The proposal also targets cyber espionage and other activity and potentially nuclear proliferation, the official said.

The administration is still debating a new stance on a 2015 agreement, sealed by Obama, to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The draft urges consideration of tougher economic sanctions if Iran violates the 2015 agreement.

The proposal includes more aggressive U.S. interceptions of Iranian arms shipments such as those to Houthi rebels in Yemen and Palestinian groups in Gaza and Egypt’s Sinai, a current official and a knowledgeable former U.S. official said.

The plan also recommends the United States react more aggressively in Bahrain, whose Sunni Muslim monarchy has been suppressing majority Shi’ites, who are demanding reforms, the sources said.

In addition, U.S. naval forces could react more forcefully when harassed by armed speed boats operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s paramilitary and espionage contingent, three of the sources said.

U.S. ships have fired flares and warning shots to drive off IRGC boats that made what were viewed as threatening approaches after refusing to heed radio warnings in the passageway for 35 percent of the world’s seaborne petroleum exports.

U.S. commanders now are permitted to open fire only when they think their vessels and the lives of their crews are endangered. The sources offered no details of the proposed changes in the rules, which are classified.

ISLAMIC STATE FIRST

The plan does not include an escalation of U.S. military activity in Syria and Iraq. Trump’s national security aides argued that a more muscular military response to Iranian proxies in Syria and Iraq would complicate the U.S.-led fight against Islamic State, which they argued should remain the top priority, four of the sources said.

Mattis and McMaster, as well as the heads of the U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Forces Command, have opposed allowing U.S. commanders in Syria and Iraq to react more forcefully to provocations by the IRGC, Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias, the four sources said.

The advisers are concerned that more permissive rules of engagement would divert U.S. forces from defeating the remnants of Islamic State, they said.

RELATED: Ballistic missile testing in Iran

Moreover, looser rules could embroil the United States in a conflict with Iran while U.S. forces remain overstretched, and Trump has authorized a small troop increase for Afghanistan, said one senior administration official.

A former U.S. official said Hezbollah and Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias in Iraq have been “very helpful” in recapturing vast swaths of the caliphate that Islamic State declared in Syria and Iran in 2014.

U.S. troops supporting Kurdish and Sunni Arab fighters battling Islamic State in Syria have been wrestling with how to respond to hostile actions by Iranian-backed forces.

In some of the most notable cases, U.S. aircraft shot down two Iranian-made drones in June. Both were justified as defensive acts narrowly tailored to halt an imminent threat on the ground.

 

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Trump’s opposition to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), poses a dilemma for policymakers.

Most of his national security aides favor remaining in the pact, as do U.S. allies Israel and Saudi Arabia despite their reservations about Iran’s adherence to the agreement, said U.S. officials involved in the discussions.

“The main issue for us was to get the president not to discard the JCPOA. But he had very strong feelings, backed by (U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations) Nikki Haley, that they should be more aggressive with Iran,” one of the two U.S. officials said. “Almost all the strategies presented to him were ones that tried to preserve the JCPOA but lean forward on these other (issues.)”

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(Writing by Jonathan Landay.; Reporting by Arshad Mohammed,Jonathan Landay, and Steve Holland.; Additional reporting by Phil Stewart and John Walcott; Editing by Howard Goller)

Includes videos:

https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/09/12/report-trump-weighing-aggressive-iran-strategy-against-malign-activities/23206015/

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Donald Trump is pictured here. | Getty Images
President Donald Trump’s administration has been reviewing the Iran nuclear deal. | Andrew Harrer/Getty Images

More than 80 experts urge Trump not to abandon Iran nuclear deal

More than 80 experts on nuclear proliferation urged the Trump administration not to abandon the Iran nuclear deal in a statement on Wednesday.

The agreement, which was negotiated under former President Barack Obama in 2015, ended several sanctions against Iran in exchange for that country taking steps to dismantle its nuclear program. Iran is subject to regular inspections to monitor whether it adheres to those rules under terms of the agreement.

The signatories, which include many academics and some former State Department officials, wrote that they are “concerned by statements from the Trump administration that it may be seeking to create a false pretext for accusing Iran of noncooperation or noncompliance with the agreement in order to trigger the re-imposition of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran.”

Last week, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley described the deal as a “very flawed and very limited agreement” and contended that “Iran has been caught in multiple violations over the past year and a half.”

The experts who signed the letter, though, described the agreement as “an effective and verifiable arrangement that is a net plus for international nuclear nonproliferation efforts” and warned against leaving it.

“Abandoning the deal without clear evidence of an unresolved material breach by Iran that is corroborated by the other EU3+3 partners runs the risk that Tehran would resume some of its nuclear activities, such as enriching uranium to higher levels or increasing the number of operating centrifuges,” they wrote. “These steps would decrease the time it would take for Iran to obtain enough nuclear material for a warhead.”

President Donald Trump was a critic of the Iran deal as a candidate, but he has not taken steps to abandon it since taking office. His administration, however, has been reviewing the deal.

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/13/trump-iran-nuclear-deal-letter-242655

Oil Will Keep Flowing, but UN Sanctions Hit Pyongyang Hard — North Korean textile exports are prohibited — Some call the total package a “wrist slap”

September 12, 2017

TOKYO — North Korea will be feeling the pain of new United Nations sanctions targeting some of its biggest remaining foreign revenue streams. But the Security Council eased off the biggest target of all: the oil the North needs to stay alive, and to fuel its million-man military.

Though the United States had proposed a complete ban, the sanctions by the U.N. Security Council to punish North Korea for its sixth nuclear test cap Pyongyang’s annual imports of crude oil at the same level they have been for the past 12 months: an estimated 4 million barrels. Exports of North Korean textiles are prohibited, and other nations are barred from authorizing new work permits for North Korean workers, putting a squeeze on two key sources of hard currency.

The measures were approved unanimously Monday.

Image result for oil in north korea, photos

The measures to punish Pyongyang for its Sept. 3 nuclear test also ban the country from importing natural gas liquids and condensates, and limit the import of refined petroleum products to 2 million barrels a year.

That could be a significant restriction.

According to Chinese customs data, North Korea imports nearly 2.2 million barrels a year in petroleum products, but some U.S. officials believe the true number is much higher: about 4.5 million barrels. So the 2 million barrel cap could be cutting existing imports 10 percent, or slashing them by more than half.

But how much impact the oil and fuel component of the sanctions will actually have — even if strictly enforced, which is always a concern — is an open question.

David von Hippel, an energy expert with the Nautilus Institute think tank who has done extensive research on North Korea, said he doubts that oil sanctions will hit the regime very hard.

“The textile sanctions actually might have more impact, as they are probably a good source of value-added income — value added by people you don’t have to pay much — for the regime,” he said. “But I’m not sure that they will really have much effect on the nuclear weapons and missile programs, given the priority that those initiatives must have for the DPRK leadership.”

DPRK is short for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Von Hippel co-authored a report for Nautilus earlier this month that found even a major reduction in Chinese oil exports to North Korea would likely have only a muted impact on military activities because Pyongyang can safely be assumed to have significant stockpiles of oil. The report estimated North Korea may have enough in reserve to supply its military for a year of normal operations or a month at a wartime pace.

There have been signs, including reduced supply and skyrocketing prices, that North Korea has already started diverting oil products away from gas stations and other consumer outlets.

Rajiv Biswas, Asia Pacific chief economist for IHS Markit, also said he expects that Pyongyang can weather the import reduction.

“The new U.N. sanctions on oil exports to North Korea are relatively moderate in scope compared to the original U.S. proposal regarding oil exports, and would be unlikely to have much impact on the operations of the North Korean military,” he said.

Biswas noted, however, that the situation with China remains both crucial and complicated.

Chinese gasoline exports to the North fell sharply — to just 120 tons in July, compared to 8,262 tons in June — following a decision by China’s state-owned oil company, China National Petroleum Corporation, to cut sales due to concerns that North Korea is too high a credit risk. At the same time, however, Chinese exports of diesel to North Korea increased from 367 tons in June to 1,162 tons in July.

One metric ton is roughly equal to roughly seven barrels of crude oil.

“The North Korean regime is still getting some fuel supplies from China, which can keep its most essential operations functioning,” he said.

Image result for china, oil, photos

For sure, the new measures will cause Pyongyang more economic pain. Textiles are one of North Korea’s major exports, with a total export value estimated at $750 million in 2016, and the tens of thousands of North Koreans working overseas send a significant portion of their earnings home to the regime. The measures also clamp down on joint ventures, which could stifle the North’s ability to trade and to acquire capital and know-how.

But what Washington failed to get was equally telling.

Along with settling for the compromise on oil, the U.S. unsuccessfully tried to get a travel ban and freezes on the assets of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Air Koryo, the North’s flagship airline. The U.S. proposed slashing projects employing North Korean workers abroad, but instead accepted sanctions aimed at gradually scaling them back.

Image result for Air Koryo, photos

The weakening of the sanctions reflects the longstanding rift between sanctions hawk Washington, and China and Russia, which advocate direct talks and more efforts to find a resolution through negotiations. The U.S. has rejected proposals from both countries that it stop joint military exercises with South Korea in exchange for a halt to North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests.

Both Beijing and Moscow had strong words for Washington.

China’s U.N. ambassador urged the council to adopt the freeze-for-freeze proposal and urged the U.S. to pledge not to seek regime change or North Korea’s collapse. Russia’s envoy said Washington’s unwillingness to have U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres try to resolve the dispute “gives rise to very serious questions in our minds.”

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Talmadge is the AP’s Pyongyang bureau chief. Follow him on Twitter at Eric Talmadge and on Instagram @erictalmadge.

U.N. Security Council Adopts New Sanctions Against North Korea — No sanctions on Kim Jong Un, oil continues to flow — “But we did get a nice textile ban” — “This will encourage Iran”

September 12, 2017

Unanimous vote came after the U.S. rolled back its initial insistence on a complete oil embargo

Members of the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution on Monday that they said would reduce North Korea’s oil by 30%.
Members of the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution on Monday that they said would reduce North Korea’s oil by 30%.PHOTO: ANDREW GOMBERT/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK
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UNITED NATIONS—The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted new sanctions against North Korea on Monday after U.S. officials eased their demands to convince China and Russia to approve the measure.

The U.S., which drafted the initial resolution while pledging the harshest possible sanctions yet, rolled back its initial insistence on a complete oil embargo and asset and travel freezes targeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, diplomats said.

Despite the compromises, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said of the adopted resolution: “This will cut deep.”

“Today we are saying the world will never accept a nuclear armed North Korea,” she said, crediting the accord to the “strong relationship” between President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping.

“We are not looking for war. North Korea has not yet passed the point of no return,” Ms. Haley said.

Diplomats and North Korea watchers say while the new measures will add economic pressure they won’t force the regime to abandon its nuclear and missile programs.

The resolution targets North Korea’s export economy, sanctioning 90% of its annual revenue, diplomats said.

It will reduce oil imports by North Korea by 30%, placing an annual cap of 2 million barrels on refined petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel and capping crude oil at about 4 million barrels, U.S. officials said. The U.N. measure also completely bans natural gas imports.

North Korea now imports a total of 8.5 million barrels of oil a year, mostly from China, said a U.S. official.

As tensions rise around the Korean peninsula, American leaders have been openly discussing what was once unthinkable: A military intervention in North Korea. If this were to happen, here’s how specialists on North Korean security see things playing out.

The resolution also imposes an embargo on all textile trade and requires inspections and monitoring of North Korea’s sea vessels by member states. But it stops short of providing for the use of military force to gain access to the ships. The textile industry, the last big economic sector that hadn’t yet been targeted in North Korea, accounted for $760 million in 2016 revenue, U.S. officials said.

A proposed ban on North Korean foreign workers, a source of hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue to the regime, was reworded to allow countries to employ North Korean nationals if deemed vital for humanitarian reasons. Current contracts on the workers, estimated to number around 93,000 from Russia to Africa, will be phased out and not renewed, diplomats said.

China and Russia, economic and political allies of North Korea who both hold U.N. Security Council veto power, said they endorsed the new sanctions because of Pyongyang’s repeated violations of Council resolutions banning it from conducting nuclear and ballistic missile tests. But they both also criticized the U.S. and allies for not having a clear path toward diplomatic negotiations with North Korea and the ratcheting up rhetoric on military action.

“We hope that the U.S. will not seek regime change in North Korea,” the “collapse of North Korea,” or send its military into the country, said China’s Ambassador Liu Jieyi.

China is reluctant to pressure the North Korean regime to the brink of collapse fearing instability at its border, a flow of refugees and a possible American military presence. Russia and China have both said they favor direct talks and not sanctions.

Russia and China renewed their calls for North Korea to suspend nuclear and military tests in exchange for U.S. halting its military exercises on the Korean Peninsula and dismantling an American missile-defense system in South Korea known as Thaad.

“We think it’s a big mistake to underestimate this Russia and China initiative,” said Russia’s Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia. “It remains on the table at Security Council and we insist on it being considered.”

The U.S. has dismissed this proposal before. Ms. Haley recently called it “insulting” because she said it implied a moral equivalence between the U.S. and North Korea.

Many U.N. diplomats had considered a unanimous Security Council vote against North Korea as politically more important than a strong U.S. stand that risked division, diplomats said.

United Nations U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley addressed a U.N. Security Council meeting on North Korea on Monday.
United Nations U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley addressed a U.N. Security Council meeting on North Korea on Monday. PHOTO: BEBETO MATTHEWS/ASSOCIATED PRESS

“Any perception of weakness on the side of the Security Council would only encourage the regime to continue its provocations and objectively create the risk of an increasingly extreme situation,” said France’s Ambassador François Delattre.

After the vote, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe praised the resolution, saying it “raises the pressure on North Korea to an unprecedented new level and expresses the clear will of the international community that we must change the policies of North Korea.”

North Korea this month conducted its sixth nuclear-weapons test and asserted that it had acquired the capacity to mount a hydrogen bomb on an intercontinental ballistic missile. Ms. Haley had warned that Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital city, was “begging for war” and spearheaded a fast-paced diplomatic response by pushing for U.N. action with a one-week timetable.

North Korea issued a statement on its official KCNA news agency on Monday warning that if the “illegal and unlawful” sanctions resolution passed, Pyongyang would inflict “the greatest pain and suffering” on the U.S.

“In case the U.S. eventually does rig up the illegal and unlawful ‘resolution’ on harsher sanctions, the DPRK [North Korea] shall make absolutely sure that the U.S. pays due price,” the spokesman of the country’s Foreign Ministry said.

Write to Farnaz Fassihi at farnaz.fassihi@wsj.com

Appeared in the September 12, 2017, print edition as ‘U.N. Tightens Sanctions on North Korea.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-eases-u-n-measure-on-north-korea-to-coax-votes-from-china-russia-1505159014

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