Annoyed with repeated missile launch by the military of Pyongyang, the super power USA with largest arsenals of missiles and WMD has urged all nations to cut diplomatic and trade ties with North Korea after the country’s latest high powered ballistic missile test.
Speaking at the UN Security Council, US envoy Nikki Haley said President Trump had asked his Chinese counterpart to cut off oil supplies to Pyongyang. She said the US did not seek conflict but that North Korea’s regime would be “utterly destroyed” if war broke out.
The warning came after Pyongyang tested its first missile in two months. North Korea said the missile fired on Wednesday, which it said reached an altitude of about 4,475km (2,780 miles) – more than 10 times the height of the International Space Station – carried a warhead capable of re-entering the earth’s atmosphere. The claim, however, was not proven and experts have cast doubt on the country’s ability to master such technology.
However North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un called the launch “impeccable” and a “breakthrough”.
The test – one of several this year – has been condemned by the international community and the UN Security Council called an emergency meeting. Ms Haley warned that “continued acts of aggression” were only serving to further destabilize the region.
Russia’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Pyongyang should stop its missile and nuclear tests but also called on Washington to cancel military exercises with South Korea planned for December as it would “inflame an already explosive situation”.
China also suggested the North should stop the tests in return for a halt to US military exercises – a proposal Washington rejected in the past. “We need China to do more,” Ms Haley said. “President Trump called President Xi this morning and told him that we’ve come to the point where China must cut off the oil for North Korea.” “We know the main driver of its nuclear production is oil,” she said. “The major supplier of that oil is China.”
China is North Korea’s biggest ally as well as most important trading partner and Pyongyang is thought to be dependent on China for much of its oil supplies.
Earlier on Wednesday, the White House said that President Trump spoke to Xi Jinping by telephone, urging him to “use all available levers to convince North Korea to end its provocations and return to the path of denuclearization”.
Speaking in Missouri about tax reform, the US leader derided Kim, describing him as a “sick puppy” and “little rocket man”. Xi responded by telling Trump it was Beijing’s “unswerving goal to maintain peace and stability in north-east Asia and denuclearize the Korean peninsula,” Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.
Experts say the height reached by the inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) indicates Washington could be within range, although North Korea is yet to prove it has reached its aim of miniaturizing a nuclear warhead. The Hwasong-15 missile, described as North Korea’s “most powerful”, was launched in darkness early on Wednesday. It landed in Japanese waters but flew higher than any other missile the North had previously tested.
The warning from the South Korean President Moon Jae-in of the potential threat from North Korean chemical and biological weapons is timely, underscoring that Pyongyang has invested heavily in a variety of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs. Moon also warned of the danger of a North Korean electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) attack that could cripple a country’s electrical grid and critical infrastructure.
While attention focuses on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program and the long-range missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, it may have other secretive WMD programs as well. USA knows that.
North Korea makes no secret of its nuclear weapons ambitions. In marked contrast, it does not admit to having chemical or biological weapons. It has signed up to a treaty banning biological weapons, but it has not acceded to the equivalent agreement banning chemical weapons.
USA and South Korean experts believe that, in fact, North Korea does have a significant chemical weapons programme, with stockpiles of munitions containing nerve, choking and blister agents; such substances as phosgene; hydrogen cyanide; mustard; and sarin.
North Korea has a huge artillery and rocket force capable of delivering such munitions, though it remains unclear if it is able to produce chemical warheads that would survive the stresses of a flight on a ballistic missile. Much less is known about North Korea’s activities in the biological weapons field. South Korean intelligence believes that the North is well-able to produce and weaponize pathogens like anthrax, botulism and typhus, but it is far from clear if these programmes have gone beyond the research stage.
Crippled infrastructure that might not be repairable for months could lead to death, chaos and lawlessness on a vast scale. In 2008, a US commission investigating the threat concluded that “the electromagnetic pulse generated by a high-altitude nuclear explosion is one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of catastrophic consequences”. Experts differ on the likelihood of such an attack emanating from North Korea, whatever the threats. They argue that Pyongyang would be risking catastrophic reprisal and potentially the end of the regime.
Fearing a possible US attack, North Korea’s programs advance. A senior US general warns that Pyongyang’s recent test may well have been a hydrogen bomb, marking a significant advance in the North’s capabilities.
Though South Korea has by far the qualitative edge and it is of course backed up by the extensive strike power of the US military, North Korea’s military has the numerical advantage over the South and is deployed close to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) marking the boundary between the two Koreas. It is frequently suggested that North Korean artillery and rocket forces (its strongest card) could level the South Korean capital Seoul within hours of the outbreak of a conflict.
North Korea is an impoverished but highly militarized state. It is isolated by US led western powers. Its leadership has one essential goal – survival. That is why they have placed huge resources in their nuclear and missile programs as the ultimate insurance policy for the regime.
Any use of its nuclear capability would be catastrophic – especially so for North Korea itself. The regime would not survive the ensuing conflict. But this awful prospect is not necessarily the immediate worry. It is the threat of the escalating war of words between Washington and Pyongyang moving from rhetoric to reality.
Trump talks too much and can harm the US interests by using the Zionist techniques.
Meanwhile, stressing anti-Islamism as the core stem of western civilization, Donald Trump has told UK Prime Minister Theresa May to focus on Islamic “terrorism” in the UK after she criticised his sharing of far-right videos. “Don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom,” Trump tweeted. He means Radical Islamic Terrorism alone can bring the western powers together and target Muslim nations and once they move away from that theme, they would find themselves weakened and shaken. The US president had earlier retweeted three inflammatory videos posted online by a British far-right group.
Mrs May’s spokesman said it was “wrong for the president to have done this”. The USA and the UK are close allies and often described as having a “special relationship”. Theresa May was the first foreign leader to visit the Trump White House.
Trump: The Symbol of America’s Isolation in the World
The president of the United States, who came to power in 2016 with the slogan of “Reviving Washington’s Power”, has become the messenger of failure and defeat of his country in the West Asian region and in the international system. The U.S. numerous military and political defeats in countries such as Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon were so outstanding that there’s no way Trump can brag about his achievements in the region.
On the other hand, many Democrats in the United States, and even the traditional Republicans, have been criticizing the President’s costly and barren foreign policy in West Asia. In such a situation, Trump attempts to attribute this failure to the country’s previous administrations and condemn them over what is happening in today’s world, especially in the West Asian region, and he blames Obama for Washington’s constant and extensive failures in this area.
Besides, Trump’s other projections about the hard conditions of the U.S. in West Asia are noteworthy. In his recent remarks, Donald Trump said that if he wasn’t at top of the U.S. political and executive equations, Iran would capture the Middle East (West Asia)! This is while Islamic Republic of Iran created stability in the West Asian region, and besides, has stood against the long-term, medium-term, and short-term and destructive goals of the United States and its allies in the region.
Trump’s strategic weakness in the West Asia is an important issue which can’t be easily overlooked. Of course this strategic weakness did exist during Obama’s presidency, but the truth is that it reached its peak during Trump’s presidency. And in the future, this weakness will bring severe blows to the United States.
The fact is that the strategic calculations of the United States in the West Asia region have all failed. And many of the pre-assumptions that Washington called them “strategic propositions”, have never turned into reality for some reasons, including the vigilance of the Resistance movement in the region. This is the reason why America is so confused in confronting the equations of West Asia.
Under such circumstances, the only way before the President of the United States is to leave the region and confess to his defeat; an issue that many American analysts and strategists have noted. It shouldn’t be forgotten that in spite of his campaign slogans for stopping the military intervention in the region, the current president of the United States has intensified conflicts and created constant security crises in West Asia.
The direct, perfect, and comprehensive support of Donald Trump for takfiri terrorists reflects this fact. Trump started his support for ISIL since the beginning of his presence at the White House in early 2017, and he stood for the terrorists until the fall of ISIL in Syria. Even now, Trump is attempting to revive terrorist and takfiri groups in Iraq and Syria.
Despite passing half of his presidency, Trump has claimed that the defeat in Yemen, Syria and Iraq was Obama’s legacy. There is no doubt that Obama and his two secretaries of state, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, played a major role in creating terrorist and takfiri groups (especially ISIL), and committed bloodshed in Syria and Iraq.
There is also little ambiguity in the strategic, operational and even tactical defeat of the Obama administration in the battlefields of Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. However, Trump can’t deny his share in this defeat, and pretend as if he’s the messenger of the victory of the United States in these scenes! The fact is that Trump completed the military and political defeats of the United States in the West Asia region. Today, the United States is defeated in the battlefield, and can well see that its pieces had failed in these wars.
On the other hand, the White House has lost the political arena of the region. The failure of the United States in the Lebanese and Iraqi elections, on the one hand, and the popular support for the resistance groups in Yemen and Syria, has left Trump and his companions disappointed in the region. In such a situation, attributing the recent and ongoing defeats of the United States to the Obama administration is completely expectable, and at the same time, unacceptable!
Finally, we can see that just like Obama, George W Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan and Carter, Trump is stuck in this strategic miscalculation in the West Asian region. Undoubtedly, in his last days in power, Trump will also understand that there’s no way he can overcome this strategic weakness through Saudi and Emirati petrodollars.
However, it seems that the scope of Trump’s defeat in West Asia would be wider than the previous presidents of the United States. Undoubtedly, in the near future, Trump, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo and Nikki Haley will become the symbols of failure in the US foreign policy, especially in the West Asia. In other words, the president of the United States and his companions at the White House will have to admit to defeat in the West Asian region at a great expense, and this is exactly what frightens the American authorities.
first published in our partner Tehran Times
Weather and White House Turmoil as Elections Loom
Hurricane Michael wreaked havoc as it traversed the Florida panhandle. The first Category 5 hurricane to hit the area since 1881 when records began, its 155 mph winds (only 5 mph short of Category 6) felled massive trees, blew away houses, collapsed buildings and left devastation in its wake. Relatively fast moving at 14 mph, it was soon gone continuing as a Category 3 into neighboring Georgia and then further up its northeasterly path. It seemed to signify a stamp of approval for the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on holding earth to a 1.5 degree Celsius warming issued a couple of days earlier. We are at one degree now so storms can only be expected to get worse.
In northeastern Turkey, a 300-year old stone bridge disappeared overnight. Villagers convinced it had been stolen called in the police. Further investigation concluded it had been washed away by a flash flood caused by a sudden summer thunderstorm further upstream — clearly far more intense than in the previous three centuries.
Ever more powerful hurricanes, monsoons and forest fires point to a proliferation of extreme weather events that experts relate to global warming. Yet President Donald Trump and his administration remain obdurate in climate change denial.
Thins are certainly warming up in the White House. Nikki Haley announced her resignation in an amicable meeting with the president. A staunch defender of many of Mr. Trump’s most egregious foreign policy changes, the UN Representative will be leaving at the end of the year to pursue opportunities in the private sector. So said the announcement. An astute and ambitious politician she has probably reassessed the costs versus benefits of remaining in a Trump administration. Some tout her as a future presidential candidate. Should she be successful she will be the first woman president, who also happens to be of Indian and Sikh ancestry.
The rap singer Kanye West visited the president in the Oval office. A ten-minute rant/rap praising him was followed by a hug for which Mr. West ran round the wide desk that had been seemingly cleared of all paraphernalia for the performance. He is one of the eight percent of blacks voting Republican. Sporting the Trump trademark, Make-America-Great-Again red hat, he claimed it made him Superman, his favorite superhero. And some suggested it was all further proof the place had gone insane.
A little over three weeks remain to the U.S. midterm elections on November 6th. Their proximity is evidenced not by rallies or debates rather by the barrage of negative TV ads blasting opponents with accusations of shenanigans almost unworthy of a felon. A couple of months of this and you lose any enthusiasm for voting. Perhaps it is one reason why nearly half the electorate stays home. Given such a backdrop, the furor over ‘Russian meddling’ in elections appears to be a trifle misplaced. Others call the whole business a ‘witch hunt’ and state flatly the U.S. does the same.
The old idiom, ‘put your own house in order’ is particularly apt when we realize the beginning of this affair was a Democratic National Committee email leak showing ‘the party’s leadership had worked to sabotage Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign’. It resulted in the resignation of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Always fair, aboveboard elections? Not bloody likely, as the British would say. Given the rewards, it’s against human nature.
The hot November for Trump is arriving
Political turmoil in the United States has become extremely unpredictable. The turn of events became worse with an op-ed at the New York Times on September 5. Former White House strategist Steve Bannon described it as a coup against Donald Trump.
The reality is that the president faces domestic problems in his second year in office. This has rarely happened in the US political history. The issue is of great importance with regard to the approaching mid-term congressional elections in November. Republicans have the majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate, but they feel the risk of losing the majority in both houses due to Trump’s record.
Indeed, a feeling has emerged among some American politicians that their country is heading in the wrong direction because of Trump’s policies. Even former President Barack Obama has joined the election campaigns by breaking his promise not to get involved in political affairs.
The situation is not also good for Trump internationally. Disagreement with the European Union – a traditional ally of the United States – over trade and political issues, trade war with China, increasing tension with Russia, exit from international treaties such as the Paris climate agreement and the 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement Iran, have all made Trump to look dangerous in the eyes of the world. All these issues have made the situation unfavorable for Trump and his government at home and abroad.
But what is the answer of the president of the United States to these criticisms? The answer to this question is one word: economy. However, Trump is proud of his economic record.
According to statistics, the Labor Department published on September 8, US employment growth in August has beat market expectations, the non-farm payrolls increased by 201,000 from the previous month. Analysts were expecting growth of about 195,000.
The unemployment rate for August remained low at 3.9 percent. The average hourly wage rose 2.9 percent from the year before. That’s the highest level since June 2009. The latest figures are increasing speculation that the Federal Reserve will raise its key interest rate this month. The US economy expanded 4.2 percent in the April-to-June quarter, and is expected to grow more than 3 percent in this quarter.
But the economy cannot keep the president of the United States from the edge of criticism. Trump is in a difficult situation and worried about the result of the election and possible control of Congress by Democrats.
Issues such as the confessions of Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen on bribing women for having affairs with Trump and Russia’s possible involvement in the 2016 presidential election could possibly lead to his impeachment and his dismissal from power.
The US constitution says that the impeachment of the president should be endorsed by representatives from both chambers of Congress – the House of Representatives and the Senate. Democrats now have 49 seats in the 100-member Senate, and if they get 51 seats in the November election, they will still need at least 15 Republican senators to impeach Trump.
Still, if Democrats win the November election, even if this victory does not lead to Trump’s impeachment, it can put further pressure on him and cripple his government. According to a CNN poll, decrease in Trump’s popularity even among his supporters shows that the days following the November election will be hard times for Trump and his government.
First published in our partner MNA
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