US Opts for Nuclear Choice in Response to North Korea

Korea

Washington, New York- Washington alluded of resorting to the nuclear choice in responding to North Korea’s threats.

On Sunday evening, the White House warned it would answer any nuclear threat by using all its capacities, including nuclear weapons, if the regime of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un continues its threats against Washington and its allies.

In a related development, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the Security Council is expected to discuss this week a new draft resolution of new sanctions against North Korea, for a possible vote next Monday.

Speaking at an emergency session of the Security Council on Monday, Haley said: “Enough is enough. War is never something the United States wants. We don’t want it now. But our country’s patience is not unlimited.”

The emergency session comes after North Korea detonated its most powerful bomb to date, inciting additional tension between America and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

On the other hand, China and Russia said on Monday that the crisis with North Korea should be solved peacefully, without taking new measures against Pyongyang.

For its part, Seoul said on Monday there are indications that the North is preparing more missile launches including a possible new test of its ICBM, the Hwasong-14.

In the meantime, South Korea said it ramped up its own defenses following the Northern test.

Also on Monday, Trump and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in agreed that the US would lift restrictions on South Korean missile payload capabilities.

The two men spoke about the threat that North Korea’s latest provocation poses to the entire world,” and “agreed to maximize pressure on North Korea using all means at their disposal.”

Seoul was previously restricted to a maximum warhead weight of 500 kilograms on its ballistic missiles, based on a 2001 bilateral agreement with the US.

On Sunday, Defense Secretary James Mattis warned of a “massive military response” to any threat from North Korea against the US or its allies.

Trump Says Iran not ‘Living up to Spirit’ of Nuclear Deal

Washington, New York- US President Donald Trump has accused Iran of “not living up to the spirit” of the nuclear deal struck with world powers, warning America would set out its position on that soon.

“Iran has not lived up to the spirit of the agreement, and they have to do that,” Trump said on Thursday in a joint news conference in the White House with Italy’s visiting Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

“We’re analyzing it very, very carefully and will have something to say about it in the not-too-distant future.”

“It was a terrible agreement,” said Trump, who has regularly blamed his predecessor Barack Obama for securing the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. “That was a bad one, as bad as I’ve ever seen negotiated.”

On Thursday, the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, told the 15-member Security Council that Iran is the “chief culprit” in conflicts in the Middle East.

She urged the Council to make handling the country a “priority.”

Her remarks came a day after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the nuclear pact a failure and warned Iran risked becoming another North Korea: a hostile, nuclear-armed state.

He said Iran is “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism” and highlighted its military support of the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, Houthi rebels in Yemen and militias in Iraq and in Lebanon.

Tillerson accused Iran of “alarming ongoing provocations” to destabilize countries in the Middle East.

In the first reaction to Tillerson’s remarks from a senior Iranian official, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that the United States should “fulfill its own commitments.”

U.S.-Iranian Skirmishes in Strait of Hormuz

New York, Washington, Riyadh- The Strait of Hormuz witnessed on Sunday a skirmish between a U.S. Navy destroyer and Iranian vessels linked to the “Revolutionary Guards” after they closed in at high speed, officials at the U.S. Pentagon uncovered on Monday.

According to those officials, the USS Mahan fired several warning shots at the Iranian fleet and forced it to go away.

Two defense sources told Reuters that the USS Mahan, a guided-missile destroyer, fired three warning shots at the Iranian fleet after at least one vessel travelled within 800 meters of the ship.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said a group of four fast-attack boats of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps navy had ignored multiple attempts by the crew of the USS Mahan to warn them away.

According to AFP, the crews of the small Iranian rapid attack boats were manning their weapons as they sped toward the American ship.

“Mahan established radio communications with the IRGCN vessels and issued multiple radio and visual warnings to remain clear,” a U.S. defense official said.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards boats regularly approach U.S. warships in international waters and the Strait of Hormuz, ignoring U.S. radio messages and giving little indication of their intentions.

Later on Monday, U.S. officials described the behavior of the Iranian fleet as “unsafe and unprofessional.”

The skirmish comes as U.S. President-elect Donald Trump is paving his way towards assuming power on Jan. 20.

Last September, Trump vowed to destroy any Iranian vessel that disturbs the U.S. navy.
Separately, the U.N. Security Council is expected to discuss next week the Iranian file.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern to the Security Council that Iran might have violated an arms embargo by supplying weapons and missiles to Lebanese group “Hezbollah,” according to a confidential report, seen by Reuters on Sunday.

The report also cites an accusation by France that an arms shipment seized in the northern Indian Ocean in March was from Iran and likely bound for Somalia or Yemen.

General Assembly Opens its Sessions with U.S. Attacks on Russia

New York–The United Nations General Assembly opened its 71st session in New York with the participation of head of states and representatives of its member states.

The delegation of Saudi Arabia to the summit was headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior.

Upon his arrival, the crown prince was received by Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon.
The summit opened with a speech from the President of the General Assembly, Peter Thomson.

In his eighth and final speech as president of the United States, Barack Obama stressed that the only way to end the war in Syria is through diplomacy.

The president said: “In a place like Syria, where there’s no ultimate military victory to be won, we’re going to have to pursue the hard work of diplomacy that aims to stop the violence, and deliver aid to those in need, and support those who pursue a political settlement and can see those who are not like themselves as worthy of dignity and respect.”

Concerning the Palestinian cause, Obama pointed out that Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement and recognize the legitimacy of Israel, and if Israel realizes that it cannot continue to occupy and build settlements on Palestinian land.

In his speech, Obama made an indirect threat to Iran and North Korea. He praised Iran’s agreement to constraints on its nuclear program, while he criticized North Korea for its nuclear tests.

“When North Korea tests a bomb that endangers all of us. And any country that breaks this basic bargain must face consequences. And those nations with these weapons, like the United States, have a unique responsibility to pursue the path of reducing our stockpiles, and reaffirming basic norms like the commitment to never test them again,” Obama said.

The U.S. President also directed criticism at Russia, saying that if it continues to interfere in the affairs of its neighbors, it may be popular at home and might lessen its stature overtime making its borders less secure.

He also addressed poverty saying: “We can only eliminate extreme poverty if the sustainable development goals that we have set are more than words on paper. Human ingenuity now gives us the capacity to feed the hungry and give all of our children — including our girls — the education that is the foundation for opportunity in our world.”
Obama said that there is a lot more to be done to close the gap between rich and poor nations around the globe, and that despite all the developments, people lost their trust in advanced economies and institutions.

He pointed out that globalization and global integration led to collision of cultures. He added: “We see liberal societies express opposition when women choose to cover themselves. We see protests responding to Western newspaper cartoons that caricature the Prophet Mohammed… We see Russia attempting to recover lost glory through force… And in Europe and the United States, you see people wrestle with concerns about immigration and changing demographics.”

The U.S. President recounted the progress made in the past eight years: “From the depths of the greatest financial crisis of our time, we coordinated our response to avoid further catastrophe and return the global economy to growth. We’ve taken away terrorist safe havens, strengthened the nonproliferation regime, and resolved the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomacy. We opened relations with Cuba, helped Colombia end Latin America’s longest war, and we welcome a democratically elected leader of Myanmar to this Assembly… And we have made international institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund more representative, while establishing a framework to protect our planet from the ravages of climate change.”

For his part, the U.N. Sec-Gen said in his opening speech that the U.N. suspended any aid convoys after the latest attack on a U.N.-Syrian Arab Red Crescent aid convoy which seemed deliberate.
He praised the efforts of aid workers: “The humanitarians delivering life-saving aid were heroes. Those who bombed them were cowards.”

He added that during the conflict in Syria many innocent people have been killed by a number of groups, including the regime.

The Secretary-General said: “Just when we think it cannot get any worse, the bar of depravity sinks lower.”

Prince of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said that the Security Council holds historical responsibility to stop the barbaric killing of the Syrian people. He added that the Syrian regime is now importing fighters and militias and holds a slogan of “either al-Assad or they’ll burn the whole country.”

Tamim blamed the international community for failing to protect civilians in Syria and stood idle as the citizens of Daraya were being killed and displaced by the regime. He added that the international community’s negligence empowered the insurgents in Yemen.

The prince of Qatar said not only Israel rejects international resolutions, but also tries to impose settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

He concluded his speech by saying that terrorism should not be linked or identified with a certain faith or culture.

“The double standards handling of this phenomenon or linking it to a certain faith or culture, or absolving governments, who practice terrorism from being described as terrorist, would complicate the efforts to uproot the phenomena and reinforce the pretexts used by the terrorists,” said the Prince of Qatar.

Addressing the assembly for the first time as President of Brazil, Michel Tamer said: “Impeaching a President is certainly not a trivial matter in a democratic regime. But there is no democracy without rule of law – without rules applicable to all, including the most powerful. This is what Brazil is showing the world.”

In August, Tamer was elected as president after the Brazilian National Congress voted for him. He added: “Such a process took place in absolute respect to the constitutional order. Impeaching a President is certainly not a trivial matter in a democratic regime. But there is no democracy without rule of law – without rules applicable to all, including the most powerful. This is what Brazil is showing the world.”

He also highlighted that the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games held in Rio proved that nations can come together in an atmosphere of peace and harmony, and that for the first time ever, a delegation of refugees competed in the Games.

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Ban Ki-moon Discuss Means to Ease U.N. ‘Report Crisis’

New York- Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday.

The talks focused on regional issues, in particular the situation in Yemen, Iraq and Syria.

U.N. Secretary General spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that the meeting lasted 45 minutes and was very positive and constructive.

Meanwhile, sources from the Saudi delegation to the U.N. said that the two officials discussed the recent report issued by the U.N. on children and armed conflict, which blacklisted the Saudi-led coalition for allegedly causing harm to children. The coalition was later removed from the blacklist.

An official U.N. statement said Ban and Prince Mohammed discussed “putting into place concrete measures that could improve the situation on the ground” to better protect children and civilians in Yemen.

“The Secretary-General expressed hope that by the time he presents the Children and Armed Conflict report to the Security Council in August, he could point to progress on the protection of children and civilians in Yemen,” it said.

On Syria, the Secretary-General said he looked to Saudi Arabia to encourage all parties to support cease-fire efforts on the ground and to engage positively with his Special Envoy for Syria. He also expressed his concern about the impact of the Syrian conflict on Lebanon.

Regarding Libya, Ban Ki-moon and Prince Mohammed agreed on the need to unify efforts to end the crisis. On the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the Secretary-General informed the Deputy Crown Prince that talks were underway to deploy more efforts in order to accelerate the process.

On Yemen, the Secretary-General thanked Saudi Arabia for supporting the political work of his Special Envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, and stressed the urgency of ending the conflict.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Crown is expected to meet on Thursday with chiefs of Wall Street’s top financial institutions, who have expressed great interest to meet with the Prince to discuss the public offering of Saudi giant Aramco, which is planned for 2017.

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., as it is formally known, is one of the largest enterprises on earth.
The company is currently valued at roughly $3 trillion.

The Financial Times reported the company produced an average of 10.2 million barrels per day in 2015. That made up more than 10% of last year’s global daily output of 91.7 million barrels.

It added that “the company holds oil reserves of roughly 261.1 billion barrels and natural gas reserves of roughly 297.6 trillion cubic feet. Those compare to Exxon Mobil Corp.’s 24.8 billion barrels of oil reserves and British Petroleum’s 44.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas reserves.”

The Deputy Crown Prince plans to offer 5 percent of Aramco to the public within the framework of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

According to Energy Strategist at Aramco Services Dr. Kent Moors, Saudi Arabia’s sale of the company will be unlike anything the country’s done before.

“The Aramco IPO signals a big change in the kingdom’s strategy,” Moors said.

The Wall Street Journal said earlier this month that the “planned initial public offering of oil colossus Saudi Aramco has kicked off a scramble among banks,” describing the move as the “biggest event in Wall Street history.”