World

U.S. cancels 1950s treaty with Iran after international court rules against sanctions

The U.S. is pulling out of a 63-year-old friendship treaty with Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Wednesday, just hours after an international tribunal ruled the Trump administration must roll back some of the sanctions it has imposed on Tehran over its nuclear and missile programs. Mr. Pompeo appeared in the State Department briefing room to personally deliver the news, calling the termination of the 1955 agreement “overdue” and accusing Iran of abusing the International Court of Justice* in The Hague to undercut U.S. policy. Iran cited the 1955 agreement as the basis for arguing at the ICJ that curbs on humanitarian trade announced by the Trump administration after President Trump pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal this spring were illegal under international law. In a preliminary ruling, the court said that Washington must “remove, by means of its choosing, any impediments arising from” the re-imposition of sanctions to the export to Iran of medicine and medical devices, food and agricultural commodities and spare parts and equipment necessary to ensure the safety of civil aviation. Mr. Pompeo noted that the court refused to grant Iran much more sweeping relief from U.S. sanctions that Tehran had demanded. He also said the U.S. sanctions policy already took into account exceptions for humanitarian transactions with Iran, and accused the regime in Tehran of spending money on military adventures abroad rather than on the needs of its own citizens. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif praised the court ruling on Twitter, calling it “another failure for sanctions-addicted” U.S. and a “victory for rule of law,” The Associated Press reported. Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council, accused the Trump administration of acting “impetuously” in abrogating the treaty. “That treaty has proven immensely valuable to the United States historically, including in the judgment against Iran over the 1979 hostage crisis,” Mr. Abdi said in a statement. Mr. Pompeo said it remained to be seen what the practical effect of abrogating the 1955 “Amity Treaty” would be. He said Iran has been “ignoring” the agreement for a long time, and the ICJ ruling provided just one more reason for ending the accord.

North, South Korea begin removing landmines along fortified border

Troops from North and South Korea began removing some landmines along their heavily fortified border on Monday, the South’s defense ministry said, in a pact to reduce tension and build trust on the divided peninsula. Project details were agreed during last month’s summit in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, between its leader, Kim Jong Un, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. In a statement, the ministry said the two sides agreed to remove all landmines in the so-called Joint Security Area (JSA) in Panmunjom within the next 20 days, with military engineers performing the hazardous task on the South Korean side. There was no immediate confirmation from North Korea that its troops had begun the process. The deal also provides for removal of guard posts and weapons from the JSA to follow the removal of the mines, with the troops remaining there to be left unarmed. The JSA is the only spot along the 250-km (155-mile) -long “demilitarized zone” (DMZ) where troops from both Koreas are face to face. South Korean troops have gradually taken over most operations along their side of the border but international forces under the U.S.-led United Nations Command retain major roles, especially at the JSA, where an American commander and a South Korean deputy lead the security battalion. UNC spokesman Colonel Chad Carroll declined to confirm if the command would also withdraw any weapons from the JSA, but said American forces would provide support for the demining operation. “United States Forces Korea will perform a support role – to include having air medical evacuation assets available to respond within minutes of any potential medical emergencies,” he told Reuters in a statement. Since fighting during the 1950-1953 Korean War ended in a stalemate, at least nine soldiers have been killed in incidents with North Korean troops, including the killing in 1976 of two U.S. soldiers by axe-wielding North Koreans, the UNC says. In November 2017, North Korean troops at the JSA shot one of their soldiers defecting to the South five times. More recently, it was the scene of the first dramatic April summit between Kim and Moon, as well as their second, more low-key meeting, in May. In April, the neighbors announced their intention to turn the DMZ – long a symbol of tension and division – into a “peace zone”. They have already dismantled propaganda loudspeakers and some guard posts along the border. Demining projects are also set to begin on Monday in Gangwon province in South Korea’s east, to allow teams to search for the remains of soldiers killed in the war, the ministry added. More than a million landmines were laid in border areas including the DMZ and the Civilian Control Zone in the South, say demining experts, and civilians and soldiers alike have been killed or injured by them. In 2015, two South Korean soldiers were maimed by what Seoul said was a North Korean landmine, an accusation the North denied.

That’s typical for the DPRK.  They could be shown a video clear as day proving an atrocity, and they’d deny it and say it was made up propaganda.  That’s what makes discussions/negotiations so difficult.  There is the truth, and then there is their truth.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: Dinner with Trump About North Korea, Trade ‘Very Constructive’

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, visiting New York on the occasion of the United Nations General Assembly meeting, told reporters on Sunday that his dinner with U.S. President Donald Trump that night was “very constructive” and ranged from sharing opinions about North Korea to securing mutually beneficial trade agreements. Trump made dinner with Abe his first appointment for the General Assembly week. The two heads of government share a close relationship; Abe was the first world leader to visit Trump personally following his election in 2016. On this occasion, Abe greeted Trump on the heels of an overwhelming election victory to remain the head of his right-leaning Liberal Democratic Party, ensuring that Abe will remain prime minister for the next three years. “We had a very constructive discussion on trade and investment between Japan and the United States,” Abe told reporters, according to the Japan Times. “We agreed to make the momentum created in the historic U.S.-North Korea summit in June even stronger and to continue to coordinate closely toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” He noted the two met for two-and-a-half hours and that Abe made advocating for the rights of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea a priority in negotiating with the communist rogue state. Abe added that Trump appeared caring and attentive in listening to his concerns. North Korea implemented a policy of kidnapping Japanese citizens in the 1970s, using them to train would-be spies on Japanese language and culture. North Korea denied the policy for decades until 2002, then claimed it had only abducted 13 Japanese nationals. Tokyo estimates that up to 800 missing Japanese citizens were abducted and remain in North Korea. Japan has played a key role in negotiations regarding North Korea. Trump met with Abe shortly before his scheduled meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, which is expected to occur on Monday. Moon is also in New York for the U.N. General Assembly and makes his arrival shortly after his first-ever trip to Pyongyang. Upon returning from North Korea, Moon claimed that communist dictator Kim Jong-un had given him a personal message to deliver to Trump that he would not disclose publicly. Trump invited Abe to dinner and announced Sunday they would discuss “military and trade.” The two are reportedly scheduled to meet once again on Monday evening. On the issue of trade, the president said on Twitter that he hoped “to see more of a reciprocal relationship” with Japan, expressing hope “it will all work out!” Following the first dinner, Abe told reporters, “I will continue discussions on trade with him in our summit after economy minister Motegi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer meeting,” according to Japan’s Asahi Shimbun. Abe did not elaborate on any specifics regarding discussions on trade. Abe arrived in New York emboldened by a significant electoral victory last week. He is set to become the first Japanese prime minister to serve for three terms, defeating a challenge within his own Party from fellow lawmaker Shigeru Ishiba. Abe is expected to use his comfortable position to negotiate trade and push for changes to Japan’s Constitution to allow the nation greater self-defense abilities. The post-World War II Constitution does not allow Japan to maintain a standing military, only “self-defense forces” that cannot be used preemptively. In light of growing threats from North Korea and its patron state, China, Abe has pushed for allowing Japan greater military leverage. “I will finally embark on constitutional revision, which has never been achieved in the 70 years since the end of the war, and start building a new nation as we look to the future,” Abe said last week after his re-election.

Leader of ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan killed in US drone strike, officials say

The leader of an ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan, who was responsible for a spate of recent bombings that left hundreds of civilians dead, was killed in an American drone strike, U.S. officials told Fox News on Sunday. The deputy spokesperson for Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani announced the death of ISIS-K leader, Abu Sayeed Orakzai, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesman Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell said. “I would also add that the United States unrelentingly continues its counterterrorism efforts against ISIS-K, Al-Qaeda, and other regional and international terrorist groups,” O’Donnell said in a statement. The airstrikes were launched in the Nangarhar province, near the border with Pakistan, according to Agence France-Presse. Ten other ISIS fighters were also killed. Orakzai is at least the 3rd ISIS-K leader in Afghanistan killed in the past 2 years. The Islamic State has lost around 90 percent of the lands bordering Iraq and Syria since declaring a caliphate in June 2014. The killing of Orakzai comes just takes after an audio recording of the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi apparently resurfaced, in which he congratulated his followers on the occasion of Eid al-Adha, an Islamic holiday, and referenced Turkey’s recent quarrel with the U.S. over its detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson. He purportedly said “America is going through the worse time in its entire existence,” and said Russia was competing with the U.S. over regional influence and clout. Al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts has eluded captors since the rise of the Islamic State. His only public appearance was in 2014 in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. His last know audio recording was released on Sept. 28, 2017, and there have been several reports of his death or injury. Next weekend, a new U.S. military commander will be taking over in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Scott Miller, the former head of Joint Special Operations Command which oversees the elite commando units Delta Force, SEAL Team 6 and the 75th Ranger Regiment. The U.S. military has doubled its air strikes in Afghanistan over the past year and increased them fivefold over 2016 levels.

Another Islamic wako killed.  Score another one for the good guys!  Excellent!!       🙂

Iran says it has full control of Gulf and U.S. navy does not belong there

Iran has full control of the Gulf, and the U.S. Navy does not belong there, the head of the navy of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, General Alireza Tangsiri, said on Monday, according to the Tasnim news agency. The remarks come at a time when Tehran has suggested that it could take military action in the Gulf to block oil exports of other regional countries in retaliation for U.S. sanctions intended to halt its oil sales. Washington maintains a fleet in the Gulf which protects oil shipping routes. Tangsiri said Iran had full control of both the Gulf itself and the Strait of Hormuz that leads into it. Closing off the strait would be the most direct way of blocking shipping. “We can ensure the security of the Persian Gulf and there is no need for the presence of aliens like the U.S. and the countries whose home is not in here,” he said in the quote, which appeared in English translation on Tasnim. Tension between Iran and the United States has escalated since President Donald Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in May and reimposed sanctions. Senior U.S. officials have said they aim to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the most senior authority in the Islamic Republic, said last month that he supports the idea that if Iran is not allowed to export oil then no country should export oil from the Gulf.

Oh well!  Good luck with that..  The U.S. Navy should put an enhanced Carrier Strike Group (CSG) in the Persian Gulf, and up its presence in the Strait of Hormuz.  Islamic wakos like this ayatollah from Iran need to be sent the clear message that we will not be bullied, or have commerce threatened in those waterways.

Trump Says He’s Told Pompeo to ‘Closely Study’ Land Expropriation, Farm Murders in South Africa

After a Fox News segment Wednesday night focusing on the controversial issue of land expropriation in South Africa, President Trump tweeted that he has asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to investigate. Trump said has asked Pompeo “to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers.” Making it clear he was reacting to the piece on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” the president ended the post by tagging the Twitter accounts of Fox News and Tucker Carlson. In his show, Carlson said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has begun “seizing land from his own citizens, without compensation, because they are the wrong skin color. That is literally the definition of racism.” Carlson then read out what he described as an “unbelievable” statement received from “Mike Pompeo’s State Department,” which said that it was “aware of these reports and have been following this issue very closely for some time.” Feedback “South Africa is a strong democracy with resilient institutions including a free press and an independent judiciary,” the statement continued. “South Africans are grappling with the difficult issue of land reform through an open process of including public hearings, broad-based consultations, and active civil society engagement.” “President Ramaphosa has pledged that the land reform process will follow the rule of law and its implementation will not adversely affected economic growth, agricultural production, or food security,” the statement concluded. Twenty-four years after apartheid formally ended, the African National Congress government is scrambling to meet a long-delayed pledge to rectify the consequences of eight decades of legislated restrictions on land ownership for the black majority. Race laws since 1913 had reserved most of the land for whites, and the implementation of apartheid laws after 1948 included the forced removal of millions of blacks, mostly to nominally self-governing “bantustans.” Ahead of the 1994 election, the ANC’s manifesto called for the redistribution of around 30 percent of the country’s agricultural land. Over the years since, the government sought to increase black ownership of farmland through a principle of “willing seller, willing buyer” transactions, but progress has been slow. A government audit last year found that 72 percent of privately-held – as opposed to state-owned – farmland was owned by whites, who today comprise some eight percent of the population of 56 million. South Africa’s constitution allows expropriation of land with equitable compensation – and in some cases, without compensation, when deemed to be in the public interest. The latter provision is viewed as vague, and Ramaphosa, who became president in February, announced recently the government will propose a constitutional amendment “that outlines more clearly the conditions under which expropriation of land without compensation can be effected.” The focus on “land reform” is viewed by many as an ANC attempt to stave off a surging threat, ahead of elections next year, from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). The Marxist party has been attacking the ANC from the left for not moving fast enough to undo the legacies of apartheid and meet the expectations of millions of poor blacks. Unlike the ANC, the EFF proposes state-ownership of all land in South Africa.

South Africa is a mess..  White farmers are not only losing their farms without compensation..  They’re being killed.  This will only get worse..  For more, click on the text above.

100s of S. Koreans to enter North to reunite with loved ones

About 200 South Koreans and their family members prepared to cross into North Korea on Monday for heart-wrenching meetings with relatives most haven’t seen since they were separated by the turmoil of the Korean War. The weeklong event at North Korea’s Diamond Mountain resort comes as the rival Koreas boost reconciliation efforts amid a diplomatic push to resolve a standoff over North Korea’s drive for a nuclear weapons program that can reliably target the continental United States. The temporary reunions are highly emotional because most of those taking part are elderly people eager to see their loved ones once more before they die. Most of these families were driven apart during the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a ceasefire, not a peace treaty, leaving the Korean Peninsula still in a technical state of war. Buses carrying the elderly South Koreans attending this week’s reunions arrived at a border immigration office Monday morning. Red Cross workers wearing yellow vests waved at them. Some were in wheelchairs and others were aided by workers as they got off the buses and moved to the South Korean immigration office in the eastern border town of Goseong. After undergoing immigration checks, they were to cross the border by buses and travel to Diamond Mountain. Past reunions have produced powerful images of elderly Koreans crying, embracing and caressing each other. Nearly 20,000 people have participated in 20 rounds of face-to-face reunions held between the countries since 2000. Another 3,700 exchanged video messages with their North Korean relatives under a short-lived program from 2005 to 2007. No one has had a second chance to see their relatives. According to Seoul’s Unification Ministry, 197 separated South Koreans and their family members will take part in the first round of reunions that run from Monday to Wednesday. Another 337 South Koreans will participate in a second round of reunions from Friday to Sunday. South Korea will also send dozens of medical and emergency staff to Diamond Mountain to prepare for potential health problems considering the large number of elderly participants. Many of the South Korean participants are war refugees born in North Korea who will be meeting their siblings or the infant children they left behind, many of them now into their 70s. Park Hong-seo, an 88-year-old Korean War veteran from the southern city of Daegu, said he always wondered whether he’d faced his older brother in battle. After graduating from a Seoul university, Park’s brother settled in the North Korean coastal town of Wonsan as a dentist in 1946. After the war broke out, Park was told by a co-worker that his brother refused to flee to the South because he had a family in the North and was a surgeon in the North Korean army. Park fought for the South as a student soldier and was among the allied troops who took over Wonsan in October 1950. The U.S.-led forces advanced farther north in the following weeks before being driven back by a mass of Chinese forces after Beijing intervened in the conflict. Park learned that his brother died in 1984. At Diamond Mountain, he will meet his North Korean nephew and niece, who are 74 and 69, respectively. “I want to ask them what his dying wish was and what he said about me,” Park said in a telephone interview last week. “I wonder whether there’s a chance he saw me when I was in Wonsan.” During the three years since the reunions were last held, the North tested three nuclear weapons and multiple missiles that demonstrated a potential of striking the continental United States. North Korea has shifted to diplomacy in recent months. Leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a son of North Korean war refugees, agreed to resume the reunions during the first of their two summits this year in April. South Korea sees the separated families as the largest humanitarian issue created by the war, which killed and injured millions and cemented the division of the Korean Peninsula into the North and South. The ministry estimates there are currently about 600,000 to 700,000 South Koreans with immediate or extended relatives in North Korea. But Seoul has failed to persuade Pyongyang to accept its long-standing call for more frequent reunions with more participants. The limited number of reunions cannot meet the demands of divided family members, who are now mostly in their 80s and 90s, South Korean officials say. More than 75,000 of the 132,000 South Koreans who have applied to participate in reunions have died, according to the Seoul ministry. Analysts say North Korea sees the reunions as an important bargaining chip with the South, and doesn’t want them expanded because they give its people better awareness of the outside world. While South Korea uses a computerized lottery to pick participants for the reunions, North Korea is believed to choose based on loyalty to its authoritarian leadership.