Posts Tagged ‘sanctions’

Iran Nuclear Deal: Can The U.S. Walk Away?

September 24, 2017

By Eric R. Mandel
The Jerusalem Post
September 23, 2017

“The Iran deal is not a fair deal to this country” – US President Donald Trump,

September 14, 2017

What if the Trump administration comes to the conclusion that the Iran agreement (JCPOA ) authored by the previous administration has destabilized the Middle East and undermined American interests? Since it was signed, Iran has actively supported the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Sunnis, while being complicit in Syrian President Bashar Assad’s genocide of his own people.

Can the US wash its hands of the agreement, or are we stuck with it? Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly asked President Trump to either amend or withdraw from the 2015 agreement. There is no doubt that president Barack Obama believed that he knew better than the Israelis what was in their best interest, but now there is a new sheriff in town, who for years has made it clear that he believes the Iran agreement is a danger to America.

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There are no American inspectors anywhere in Iran, or anyone else inspecting military sites, where agreement-breaking nuclear weapons development may be taking place. Can America withdraw or amend the agreement if Iran technically adheres to its commitment according to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), which refuses to confront Iranian intransigence on military inspections? Can Trump say sayonara, even if the other members of the P5+1 think it is not in their interest to leave the agreement? The answer is yes, but with a few caveats.

First, the Iran deal is not what it was presented by its authors to be. President Obama signed an agreement that betrayed his own words, promising to “end their nuclear program.” The agreement in fact guarantees an internationally accepted nuclear program in eight more years.

However, critics of withdrawal point out that despite the agreement having never having been signed, it is a commitment that was witnessed by five other major powers, and the consequences of America withdrawing would cast doubt on Western assurances in the future, undermining future negotiations.

The JCPOA is the most important American treaty of the 21st century, except that it was never submitted to the Senate for approval as a treaty.

According to Bruce Fein in The Washington Times, the JCPOA was “intended to constrain Iran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for a relaxation of sanctions, and must be construed as a “treaty” under Article II, section 2, clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution.”

As National Review’s Andrew McCarthy explained, the Constitution “does not empower the president to make binding agreements with foreign countries all on his own.”

Even the Yale Journal of International Law, a strong supporter of the JCPOA which believes withdrawal is unwise, opines that “nothing in the JCPOA …formally binds the United States to the Agreement.”

There is even a precedent for walking away from the agreement, set by Rahm Emanuel and the Obama administration itself.

Let us recall that president Obama disavowed the Bush-Sharon letters of 2004, which said that the “existing major Israeli population centers” were “realities on the ground” and it is unrealistic to expect Israel to return them in any final agreement, with the quid pro quo of Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in the disengagement plan.

According to Ben Caspit’s book The Netanyahu Years, an illuminating exchange occurred between Israeli ambassador Michael Oren and Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.

Ambassador Oren called Emanuel for a clarification and said, “You can’t repudiate former understandings… it will cause long-term damage.”

Emanuel responded emphatically, “If we think they are not effective it is our right to say so isn’t it? We can’t be committed to everything the previous administration thought.”

So the Obama administration itself created a framework for walking away from the JCPOA , a set of unsigned understandings according to the State Department. If the JCPOA is not effective in moderating Iranian ambitions, and is a glide path to a nuclear weapons program, isn’t it then the right of the new administration to cancel that agreement? Of course it is.

Non-binding agreements that are not treaties can be withdrawn from. If president Obama wanted a binding agreement for perpetuity, all he had to do was present it as a treaty to the Senate.

So what should the US do now? Work with Congress to write legislation to annul the JCPOA if Iran cooperates in any way with North Korea on nuclear or missile related technology, while imposing new sanctions. Better yet, submit the JCPOA for Senate ratification.

As for the Europeans, their latest rationale for maintaining the Iran deal is that it is the model for a resolution of the North Korean nuclear conflict. They say the Iran deal mustn’t be touched, in order to reassure the North Koreans that if they strike a diplomatic deal the West will not renege on it.

So then we should show the North Koreans that they, like Iran, can have an internationally recognized nuclear program in 10 years, free of military site inspections in the meanwhile, and free to build nuclear-armed ICBMs, with billions of dollars as a reward for signing a piece of paper it has no intent of honoring.

The Iranian-sponsored ethnic cleansing of the Sunni population in Syria and Iraq is a war crime, and has caused a catastrophic refugee exodus with profound demographic national security threats to Western European nations.

So why is Western Europe so blind to the fact that the JCPOA is a major source of resources for Iranian belligerency, a primary cause of the refugee epidemic? It seems today’s Western European leaders are so lost in political correctness that they are content to author their own suicide.

As US UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said, “It is this unwillingness to challenge Iranian behavior for fear of damaging the nuclear agreement that gets to the heart of the threat the deal poses to our national security.”

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Iran is “clearly in default” of the nuclear deal, and “the Trump administration is fully committed to addressing the totality of malign activities attributable to the Iran regime and its proxies.”

But is it willing to see the JCPOA as the primary driver of those malign activates?

The author is director of MEPIN™, the Middle East Political and Information Network ™. Dr. Mandel regularly briefs members of Congress and think tanks on the Middle East. He is a regular contributor to The Jerusalem Post.


US bombers stage North Korea show of force

September 24, 2017

BBC News

This picture taken on September 23, 2017 and released from North Korea"s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 24 shows a meeting of the youth and students
A large mass anti-US rally was held in Pyongyang on Saturday. AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS

US bombers have flown close to North Korea’s east coast to demonstrate the military options available to defeat any threat, the Pentagon has said.

It said the flight was the farthest north of the demilitarised zone between the Koreas that any US fighter jet or bomber had flown in the 21st Century.

Tensions have risen recently over Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.

At the UN, North Korea’s foreign minister said US President Donald Trump was on a “suicide mission”.

Ri Yong-ho’s comments to the General Assembly mimicked Mr Trump’s remarks at the UN on Tuesday, when he called North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a “rocket man on a suicide mission”.

Mr Ri added that “insults” by Mr Trump – who was, he said, “mentally deranged and full of megalomania” – were an “irreversible mistake making it inevitable” that North Korean rockets would hit the US mainland.

Mr Trump, the foreign minister said, would “pay dearly” for his speech, in which he also said he would “totally destroy” North Korea if the US was forced to defend itself or its allies.

The US president responded to the speech on Twitter by saying Mr Ri and Mr Kim “won’t be around much longer” if they continue their rhetoric.

Trump is making the US an ‘inevitable target’

Shortly before his address, the Pentagon announced that the show of force underscored “the seriousness” with which the US took North Korea’s “reckless” behaviour, calling the country’s weapons programme a “grave threat”.

“This mission is a demonstration of US resolve and a clear message that the president has many military options to defeat any threat,” it said in a statement.

“We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the US homeland and our allies.”

US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers from Guam, escorted by Air Force F-15C Eagle fighters from Okinawa, Japan, flew in international airspace, the Pentagon added.

The flight follows a week of heated rhetoric between the leaders of both countries – after Mr Trump’s comments, Mr Kim called him “mentally deranged” and “a dotard”.

Mr Ri did not comment on the Pentagon’s announcement.

Trump: ‘Rocket Man’s suicide mission’

North Korea has refused to stop its missile and nuclear tests, despite successive rounds of UN sanctions. Its leaders say nuclear capabilities are its only deterrent against an outside world seeking to destroy it.

After the North’s latest and most powerful nuclear test earlier this month, the UN Security Council approved new sanctions on the country.

But speaking at the UN, Mr Ri repeated that the restrictions would not make the country stop its nuclear development.

Media captionHow would war with North Korea unfold?

Meanwhile, a shallow magnitude 3.4 tremor was detected near North Korea’s nuclear test site on Saturday morning, but experts believe it was a natural earthquake.

The quake was recorded at a depth of 0km in North Hamgyong province, home to the Punggye-ri site, South Korea’s meteorological agency said.

The US Geological Survey also said it occurred in the nuclear test area, but added that its seismologists assessed it as having a depth of 5km.

South Korea said no specific sound waves generated by artificial earthquakes were detected.

China’s Earthquake Administration said the quake was not a nuclear explosion and had the characteristics of a natural tremor. The agency had initially said it was a “suspected explosion”.

Previous tests


What did North Korea’s nuclear tests achieve?

How advanced is Pyongyang’s nuclear programme?

Analysts from the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), the UN-backed monitoring group, said the quake was “unlikely man-made”.

CTBTO executive secretary Lassina Zerbo tweeted that the quake had occurred “about 50km from prior tests”.

“The most probable hypothesis currently is that it is the consequence of the previous event… which could still have further repercussions,” Mr Zerbo told the AFP news agency, referring to North Korea’s massive nuclear test on 3 September.

North Korea – which has recently carried out a series of nuclear tests – has so far made no comment.

In a separate development, China moved to limit the North Korea’s oil supplyand stop buying textiles from the country, in line with the latest UN sanctions.

China is North Korea’s most important trading partner, and one of its only sources of hard currency.

The ban on textiles – Pyongyang’s second-biggest export – is expected to cost the country more than $700m (£530m) a year.

Was your T-shirt made in North Korea?

Clothing has often partially been made in North Korea but finished in China, allowing a Made in China label to be legally sewn onto the clothing, BBC World Service Asia-Pacific Editor Celia Hatton says.

China also said its restrictions on refined petroleum products would apply from 1 October, and on liquefied natural gas immediately.

Under a UN resolution, China will still be able to export a maximum of two million barrels of refined petroleum to North Korea annually, beginning next year.

North Korea is estimated to have imported 6,000 barrels of refined petroleum daily from China in 2016 – the equivalent of nearly 2.2 million in total for the entire year.



China Imposes Limit on Oil Supply to North Korea

September 23, 2017

BEIJING — China announced Saturday that it will limit energy supplies to North Korea and stop buying its textiles under U.N. sanctions imposed over its nuclear and missile development, further reducing support from Pyongyang’s last ally.

Exports of refined petroleum to the North will be limited to 2 million barrels per year, effective Jan. 1, the Commerce Ministry said. Sales of liquefied natural gas are banned outright.

North Korea depends on China for almost all its oil and gas but estimates of its consumption are low, leaving it unclear how Beijing’s new limit will affect them. The restrictions announced Saturday do not apply to crude oil, which makes up the biggest share of energy exports to the North.

China also will ban textile imports from the North, the ministry said. Textiles are believed to be the North’s biggest source of foreign revenue following rounds of U.N. sanctions under which Beijing cut off purchases of coal, iron ore, seafood and other goods.

China accounts for some 90 percent of the North’s trade, making its cooperation critical to efforts to derail Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile development.

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FILE – In this May 8, 2016, file photo, a North Korean solder stands guard near barrels stacked up near the river bank of the North Korean town of Sinuiju, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong. China announced Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 it will limit oil supplies to North Korea under U.N. sanctions starting Oct. 1, 2017, stepping up pressure on Pyongyang over its pursuit of nuclear and missile technology. (Chinatopix via AP, File) The Associated Press

Chinese leaders were long the North’s diplomatic protectors but express increasing frustration with the government of Kim Jong Un. They support the latest U.N. Security Council sanctions but are reluctant to push Pyongyang too hard for fear Kim’s government might collapse. They also argue against doing anything that might hurt ordinary North Koreans.

Chinese officials complain their country bears the cost of enforcing sanctions, which have hurt businesses in its northeast that trade with the North.

The U.N. Security Council voted Sept. 11 to limit fuel supplies and ban the North’s textile exports. China, one of five permanent council members with power to veto U.N. action, agreed to the measure after the United States toned down a proposal for a complete oil embargo.

Image: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance at the newly built Wisong Scientists Residential District  in this undated photo released by KCNANorth Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the newly built Wisong Scientists Residential District in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on Oct. 14, 2014. KCNA via Reuters

Petroleum exports for use in the North’s ballistic missile program or other activities banned by U.N. sanctions also are prohibited, the Commerce Ministry said.

The U.S. government’s Energy Information Agency estimates the North’s 2016 daily imports from China at 15,000 barrels of crude oil and 6,000 barrels of refined products. That would be the equivalent of almost 5.5 million barrels of crude and 2.2 million barrels of refined products for the full year.

North Korea has abundant coal but depends almost entirely on imports for oil and gas.

North Korean textile exports in 2016 totaled $750 million, according to South Korea’s Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency. It said nearly 80 percent went to China.

Kim Jong Un calls Trump ‘deranged,’ H-bomb test threatened — Dog barking contest going wrong?

September 22, 2017


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called President Donald Trump “deranged” and said he will “pay dearly” for his threats. The North Korean Foreign Minister later reportedly threatened to test an H-bomb in the Pacific.

People in Pyongyang, North Korea, watched a television broadcast on Friday of the leader Kim Jong-un’s response to President Trump’s speech at the United Nations. Credit Ed Jones/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Kim said on Friday that Trump is “unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country” and described the president as “a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire,” according to North’s official Korean Central News Agency.

The comments come in response to Trump’s speech at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.

Kim said that Trump’s remarks had convinced him “that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last,” adding that he was “thinking hard” about his response.

Sanctions tightened

The new US sanctions “will cut off sources of revenue that fund North Korea’s efforts to develop the deadliest weapons known to humankind,” Trump said Thursday.

Referring to the North Korean nuclear program, Trump said “tolerance for this disgraceful practice must end now.”

He added that North Korea’s textile, fishing, information technology, and manufacturing industries were among those the United States could target with the sanctions. The new measures do not affect the North Korean oil industry.

Read more: A closer look at which countries trade with North Korea

Stronger European reaction coming

Citing anonymous sources, AFP and Reuters news agencies reported on Thursday that the European Union had reached an agreement on additional sanctions targeting North Korea, including a ban on investments and oil exports to the country.

Ambassadors from the 28-member states on Thursday “agreed on a package of new autonomous measures,” an EU official told AFP, and they will now be prepared in detail to be approved by a meeting of European foreign ministers next month.

In an interview with DW, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her government had a “clear disagreement with Trump over North Korea.” She went on to offer to mediate between world powers and Pyongyang to reach a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Read more: Why Trump won’t ‘totally destroy’ North Korea

Praise for China

Trump praised China’s central bank for what he said was a move to stop its banks from trading with North Korea. That development was reported by Reuters news agency on Thursday.

During his first speech at the United Nations General Assembly, Trump said the United States would “totally destroy” North Korea if forced to defend itself or its allies. For its part, North Korea called Trump’s speech “the sound of a dog barking.”

China has by far the most influence over North Korea, providing an economic lifeline, but fears the consequences if Kim Jong-Un’s state collapses.

Seoul: Ease up on North Korea

Earlier on Thursday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for an easing of tensions over North Korea, saying that the risk of accidental war was high.

“The situation surrounding the North Korean nuclear issue needs to be managed stably so that tensions will not become overly intensified or accidental military clashes will not destroy peace,” Moon told the UN General Assembly.

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 21, 2017. REUTERS – Lucas Jackson

South Korea approved a plan on Thursday to send $8 million (€ 6.7 million) worth of aid to North Korea, as China warned the crisis on the Korean peninsula was getting more serious by the day.

South Korea and North Korea are still technically at war as the 1950-1953 Korean War ended with a truce rather than a peace treaty.

H-bomb threats

Meanwhile, South Korean media reported on Friday morning comments by North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong that his country may test a hydrogen bomb to fulfill Kim’s pledge to take the “highest-level” action against the US.

Ri said on Thursday that a response “could be the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific.”

“We have no idea about what actions could be taken as it will be ordered by leader Kim Jong Un,” he said.

sms, jh/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

Includes video:

US beefs up NKorea sanctions, Kim Jong Un insults Trump

September 22, 2017

Kim Jong Un

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump added economic action to his fiery military threats against North Korea on Thursday, authorizing stiffer new sanctions in response to the Koreans’ nuclear weapons advances. Its leader Kim Jong Un issued a rare statement, branding Trump as “deranged” and warning he will “pay dearly” for his threat to “totally destroy” the North if it attacks.

The exchange of super-heated rhetoric and unusually personal abuse between the adversaries will escalate tensions that have been mounting as North Korea has marched closer to achieving a nuclear-tipped missile that could strike America. The crisis has dominated the Trump’s debut at this week’s annual U.N. General Assembly meeting.

Kim’s statement, carried by North Korea’s official news agency in a dispatch from Pyongyang early Friday, responded to Trump’s combative speech days earlier where he not only issued the warning of potential obliteration for the isolated nation, but also mocked the North’s young autocrat as a “Rocket Man” on a “suicide mission.”

Kim offered choice insults of his own.

He said Trump was “unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country.” He described the president as “a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire.” He characterized Trump’s speech to the world body on Tuesday as “mentally deranged behavior.”

President Trump announced Thursday he signed a new order to help the U.S. target people, companies and banks financing and facilitating trade with North Korea. He also said China has ordered its banks to stop all business with North Korea. (Sept. 21)

“I will make the man holding the prerogative of the supreme command in the U.S. pay dearly for his speech calling for totally destroying the DPRK,” said the statement carried by Korean Central News Agency.

DPRK is the abbreviation of the communist country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

There was no immediate response from the White House.

On Thursday in New York, Trump announced the latest steps to punish foreign companies that deal with the North. It was the latest salvo in a U.S.-led campaign to isolate and impoverish Kim’s government until it halts the missile and nuclear tests. He announced the measures as he met leaders from South Korea and Japan, the nations most immediately imperiled by North Korea’s threats of a military strike.

“North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile development is a grave threat to peace and security in our world and it is unacceptable that others financially support this criminal, rogue regime,” Trump said as he joined Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in for lunch. “Tolerance for this disgraceful practice must end now.”

His executive order expanded the Treasury Department’s ability to target anyone conducting significant trade in goods, services or technology with North Korea, and to ban them from interacting with the U.S. financial system.

“Foreign financial institutions must choose between doing business with the United States or facilitating trade with North Korea or its designated supporters,” the order says. It also issues a 180-day ban on vessels and aircraft that have visited North Korea from visiting the United States.

Trump also said China was imposing major banking sanctions, too, but there was no immediate confirmation from the North’s most important trading partner.  China’s central bank would not take questions by phone Friday and did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.

Trump praised China for instructing its banks to cut off business with Pyongyang, but neither the Chinese nor Trump officials were ready to say so. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he had spoken at length Thursday with the head of China’s central bank but “I am not going to comment on confidential discussions.”

If enforced, the Chinese action Trump described could severely impede the isolated North’s ability to raise money for its missile and nuclear development. China, responsible for about 90 percent of North Korea’s trade, serves as the country’s conduit to the international banking system.

Trump said the China action he described “was a somewhat unexpected move and we appreciate it.”

China remains leery of pressuring North Korea into collapse and has resisted cutting off its critical oil supplies, not wanting chaos on its border. Along with Russia, China wants the U.S. to seek dialogue with the North. American officials say the time isn’t right for any formal diplomatic process. Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Thursday that negotiations are the “only way out” of the nuclear standoff.

Several news outlets this month have reported Chinese steps to restrict banking transactions, but the government hasn’t made a formal announcement. Asked for comment last week, the Foreign Ministry said China has always fully implemented U.N. sanctions on North Korea but opposes “unilateral” restrictions imposed by another country on Chinese entities. China’s embassy in Washington declined to comment Thursday.

The focus on economic measures by Washington had at least temporarily shifted focus from the talk of military action that has caused unease, even among U.S. allies. In his speech to the U.N. on Tuesday, Trump spoke of his own nation’s patience, but said that if “forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

Trump’s messengers backed him up in television appearances Thursday. Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News: “We do not desire a military conflict. But the president has made it very clear, as he did at the U.N. this week, that all options are on the table and we are simply not going to tolerate a rogue regime in Pyongyang obtaining usable nuclear weapons that could be mounted on a ballistic missile and threaten the people of the United States or our allies.”

Trump’s heated language was rare for a U.S. president at the rostrum of the United Nations. But the speech was textbook Trump, dividing the globe into friends and foes and taking unflinching aim at America’s enemies.


Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.


Follow Lemire on Twitter at and Lemire at

Includes video:,-Kim-Jong-Un-insults-Trump

China’s central bank tells banks to stop doing business with North Korea: sources

September 21, 2017


SEPTEMBER 21, 2017 / 6:38 AM

BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) – China’s central bank has told banks to strictly implement United Nations sanctions against North Korea, four sources told Reuters, amid U.S. concerns that Beijing has not been tough enough over Pyongyang’s repeated nuclear tests.

Tensions between the United States and North Korea have ratcheted up after the sixth and most powerful nuclear test conducted by Pyongyang on Sept. 3 prompted the United Nations Security Council to impose further sanctions last week.

Chinese banks have come under scrutiny for their role as a conduit for funds flowing to and from China’s increasingly isolated neighbor.

The sources said banks were told to stop providing financial services to new North Korean customers and to wind down loans with existing customers, following tighter sanctions against Pyongyang by the United Nations.

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A Chinese national flag flutters outside the headquarters of the People’s Bank of China, the Chinese central bank, in Beijing, April 3, 2014. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic Reuters

The sources said lenders were asked to fully implement United Nations sanctions against North Korea and were warned of the economic losses and reputational risks if they did not do so.

Chinese banks received the document on Monday, the sources said.

China’s central bank did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“At present, management of North Korea-related business has become an issue of national-level politics and national security,” according to the document seen by the sources.

The document directed banks to explain to any North Korean customers that “our bank is fulfilling our international obligations and implementing United Nations sanctions against North Korea. As such, we refuse to handle any individual loans connected to North Korea.”

The document did not specify whether existing North Korean account holders could still deposit or remove money from their accounts.

Frustrated that China had not done more to rein in North Korea, the Trump administration considered new sanctions in July on small Chinese banks and other firms doing business with Pyongyang, two senior U.S. officials told Reuters.

China’s Big Four state-owned banks have stopped providing financial services to new North Korean clients, Reuters reported last week, with some measures beginning as early as the end of last year.

Reporting by the Beijing and Hong Kong newsrooms; Writing by Sue-Lin Wong; Editing by Jacqueline Wong

Donald Trump Says U.S. Plans Additional Sanctions for North Korea

September 21, 2017

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is set to brief reporters Thursday afternoon, along with U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley

U.S. President Donald Trump meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the United Nations Thursday in New York.Photo: kevin lamarque/Reuters

NEW YORK—President Donald Trump said Thursday that the U.S. planned additional sanctions for North Korea, two days after he said the U.S. would “totally destroy” the country if America or its allies were forced to defend themselves against the emerging nuclear power.

“We will be putting more sanctions on North Korea,” Mr. Trump said after being asked about the possibility by reporters during a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

The additional sanctions weren’t immediately clear, though the White House announced soon afterward that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would brief reporters Thursday afternoon, along with United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley.

U.S President Donald Trump addressing the General Assembly at the United Nations Tuesday in New York.Photo: Michael Brochstein/Zuma Press

The U.S. pushed a resolution last week that resulted in the Security Council agreeing to sanction 90% of North Korea’s annual revenue and reduce the country’s oil imports by 30%.

On Tuesday, Mr. Trump threatened to annihilate North Korea if the U.S. has to defend itself or its allies against the regime, in an address to the United Nations General Assembly.

“No nation on Earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles,” Mr. Trump said in his address. He said that denuclearization is the “only acceptable future” for North Korea.

“‘Rocket Man’ is on a suicide mission, not only for himself but for his regime,” Mr. Trump said, referring to Kim Jong Un.

Write to Louise Radnofsky at

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

Image may contain: 4 people, people sitting

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.

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

September 18, 2017


© 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.

Iran won’t bow to US ‘bullying’ on nuclear deal: Khamenei

September 17, 2017


© KHAMENEI.IR/AFP/File | Iran will not give in to US “bullying” as Washington attempts to undermine Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers, the Islamic republic’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran will not give in to US “bullying” as Washington attempts to undermine Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers, the Islamic republic’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday.

“Iran, which is a powerful nation, will not give in to pressure and will not bow,” Khamenei said in an address to police officers in Tehran.

“The corrupt, lying, deceitful US officials insolently accuse the nation of Iran… of lying, whereas the nation of Iran has acted honestly and will continue on this path until the end in an honest manner,” said Khamenei.

“The enemy should know that bullying may work in other parts of world, but it will not work in the Islamic republic.”

President Hassan Rouhani left on Sunday for the UN General Assembly in New York, where he is set to hold crucial talks on the 2015 nuclear deal, which eased international sanctions in exchange for curbs to Iran’s atomic programme.

US President Donald Trump has threatened to tear up the deal and his administration has been looking for grounds to declare Iran in non-compliance, despite repeated UN declarations that Tehran has stuck to its commitments.

“You are the liars. The nation of Iran is standing firm and any wrong move… will face a reaction by the Islamic republic,” said Khamenei.