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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 18th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From Hiroshima 1945 to Fukushima 2011 – it is “Cukooshima!”

Let me start by saying that this posting is not an expression of any arrow shooting at Japanese that acted for all those years against their best interests. Yes – but sorry – it was Cukoo.

It all started with Japan believing it can stop US expansion in East Asia, and Japan picking the losing side in WWII. This led to the dropping of two nuclear bombs over Japan. Then Japan decided to compete with the US economy and went the way of nuclear energy for peaceful use. Now we see that this was as disastrous as their first encounter with nuclear technology – but this time by their own choice.

We love Japan. For one – I spent three weeks in Kyoto in 1997 with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting that gave birth to the failed Kyoto Protocol. At that time I got to know the Kyoto – Nara – Osaka triangle. But this was not my only encounter with the Japanese. In effect, with my family, we spent two weeks staying with Japanese in their homes thanks to the Ryokan hospitality system, and we exchanged our time-share at the Krystal Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for a week at the Resorpia Hakone Japanese Business Class Resort at Hakone, at the foot of the Fiji Mountain. We got to know two different levels which sandwich the Japanese society.

With this said – let me add that I write now from Vienna and that the Austrian people have voted down the opening of an atomic plant as they understood the terrible danger of living with an atomic monster-plant in your backyard. Austria has not even one nuclear plant but gets part of its electricity from the European grid that includes nuclear plants. The Austrians are thus not clean of nuclear energy either – this unless they disengage from the European grid and run their own separate grid for which they have enough hydro-power to provide over 80% of electricity need and could easily supply the remaining part with biomass, biofuels, solar and wind energy. Clearly no real need for nuclear power and the possibility to achieve this without empty posturing based on the truth that once in the past they voted down the opening of the Zwentendorf nuclear plant.

—————————

The Donella Meadows Archive – Voice of a Global Citizen – wrote:
Zwentendorf, a Nuclear Plant That Will Never Be Turned on.

On the bank of the Danube 20 miles northwest of Vienna stands a
completed nuclear power plant, loaded with fuel, ready to start up. It
has stood there, just so, for 9 years, while the Austrians argue about
what to do with it. The most popular plan is to turn it into a museum
for obsolete technology.

The plant, called Zwentendorf, was intended to be the first of six
Austrian nuclear plants. It was begun in 1970 and completed in 1978 at
a cost of 8 billion Austrian schillings — at present value about a
billion dollars. It is rated at 700 megawatts, about two-thirds the
size of Seabrook and Shoreham, two American nuclear plants that are
also ready to go and hotly contested.

“When Zwentendorf began, we didn’t know anything,” an Austrian
environmentalist told me. “Nuclear power sounded better to us than a
coal plant or another hydropower dam on the Danube. If only we had
known then what we know now.”

They know now that two of the four German plants with the same design
as Zwentendorf have been shut down permanently by mechanical problems.
They know now that Zwentendorf is located squarely on an earthquake
fault zone. And during a Danube flood, water seeped into its
containment vessel, so now they know that the groundwater is not
protected from contamination in case of a meltdown.

Furthermore Austria, like every other country with nuclear power, has
no plan for the disposal of nuclear waste. The original idea had been
to bury it in deep granite under the Alps. But the villages at the
chosen site vehemently rejected this plan, and by Austrian law a
locality cannot be forced to accept such an imposition from the
federal government. The Austrians offered the waste to Hungary, Egypt,
and China, but all refused. The Shah of Iran was eager to have it, but
then he fell from power. The Ayatullah wasn’t interested.

By the time Zwentendorf was finished, so many doubts had been raised
that the government was forced to hold a referendum to decide whether
to start the plant. During the weeks preceding the vote, the argument
raged — the same one that polarizes every country that permits public
discussion of nuclear power. People were told they had to choose
between progress and safety, between jobs and the environment, between
present brownouts and future contamination. Bruno Kreisky, then
Chancellor, declared Zwentendorf a top priority and appealed for a yes
vote. Austrians still do not agree whether he caused more
anti-Zwentendorf pro-Kreisky people to vote yes than he did
pro-Zwentendorf anti-Kreisky people to vote no.

At any rate, on November 5, l978, 50.5% of the voters said no to
Zwentendorf. The Austrian nuclear power program came to a halt.

This is part of an article from The Donella Meadows Archive, for
further information please contact Sustainability Institute, 3 Linden
Road, Hartland, VT 05048

Today – that is in 2011 – the Zwentendorf  facility serves as a source
of spare parts for the five German atomic power plant of the same
design, and is used for training purposes. Visits are possible only in
exceptional cases.

————————-

Austrians understand the pain of Japan and the papers are full with articles and letters regarding the nuclear events unfolding in Japan.

The PolitikHeute page of the popular free-of-charge Vienna Heute daily, March 18, 2011, has two out of the three letters from readers, dealing with the EU “Stress Tests for EU Nuclear plants, or the EU and the Atomic Power Plants (the German word AKW):

H. Fruhwirth from Hoenbach reminds us that it is Austrian Environment Minister Nikolas Berlakovich who suggested the stress-tests for all EU AKWs and thinks that had one done so with the Fukushima plants perhaps they would have been stopped before disaster stroke. The mentioned stress tests have already led Germany to announce the non renewal of the operating licenses for as many as 12 plants – this to take effect in a month or two.

Further, the letter points out that politicians, and those that favor nuclear power, finally were driven by what happened in Japan to the realization that humanity is helpless before environmental inputs.

S. Hauer writes a short note asking why the EU deals with crooked bananas and crooked cucumbers, but has no decisions regarding the AKWs, airplane accidents, acts of terror, earth-quakes – even though it is clear that 100% safety does not exist?

On the following page there is an article titled ANSWERS, by Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn.

The Cardinal announces  that tonight, Friday March 18th, 7 pm, he will hold at the Stephansdom (clearly most important Cathedral in Austria) – a special service for Japan.

The Cardinal writes that the Fukushima events made him think these last days of his friend, a Chemist at the University of Bern, Switzerland, Professor Max Thuerkauf, who lost his position at the university because of his criticism of the technological insufficiencies of our times and warned of dangers even of the peaceful uses of nuclear power.  His words sound prophetic these days.

Back in 1984 he was saying that the nuclear power plants were just the tip of an iceberg – the development of technologies that were unsustainable. No engine is safe he was saying to those that argued that nuclear power plants are safe. He was noting that men build them, and use them, and we know that even the impossible can happen.

Thuerkauf  said that atomic energy is a fire that cannot be extinguished – surely not by closing a faucet. There is no material that can extinguish a fire that burns a thousand time brighter then the sun – the artificially created radioactivity.  Science has no means to bottle up this artificially created radioactivity will be here for eternity,  and the Cardinal calls us to reconsider what we are doing and look at what price the poor Japanese will pay for these activities.

—————————-

But I cannot leave it at this only. I feel I must make a further comment regarding the Japanese culture that bred the reality of people committing harakiri for some National purpose. Obviously, we had no admiration for those that sacrificed themselves for their emperor and we do not admire a Prime Minister who makes now an official visit to the shrine that sort off deifies their memory, but look now at the 50 workers that still busy themselves in the pit left by the explosions at the dying reactors of Fukushima. These people know they have little chance to survive. The head of the Japanese nuclear authority did not go to inspect the disaster – right on location. He must have had years ofd good pay and it is those workers that will be his sacrificial lambs. He is no better then the US bank-directors that raked in the profits  from the financial collapse in the US or the BP officials who watched the fouling up of the US Gulf. Neigh – the Japanese energy leaders might actually prove to be much worse then these other self-gratifiers.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 2nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Is above really incomprehensible if remembering that quite a few countries used to overload the UN with personnel as a convenient way to put their intelligence operatives within the borders of the US? In the days of the cold war these were mainly East-bloc operatives, today they can be various Middle Easterners and even plants from business interests.

The imagination can let you run wild and the host country may love to get more information of what some individuals with UN appointments do in their vastly available extra-time.


The US text we picked up says:

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 24 STATE 080163

NOFORN, SIPDIS, E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/31/2034

TAGS: PINR KSPR ECON KPKO KUNR

SUBJECT: (S) REPORTING AND COLLECTION NEEDS: THE UNITED NATIONS   REF: STATE 048489

Classified By: MICHAEL OWENS, ACTING DIR, INR/OPS. REASON: 1.4(C).

1. (S/NF) This cable provides the full text of the new National HUMINT Collection Directive (NHCD) on the United Nations (paragraph 3-end) as well as a request for continued DOS reporting of biographic information relating to the United Nations (paragraph 2).

…Reporting officers should include as much of the following information as possible when they have information relating to… credit card account numbers; frequent flyer account numbers; work schedules, and other relevant biographical information.

…Information about current and future use of communications systems and technologies by officials or organizations, including cellular phone networks, mobile satellite phones, very small aperture terminals (VSAT), trunked and mobile radios, pagers, prepaid calling cards, firewalls, encryption, international connectivity, use of electronic data interchange, Voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP), Worldwide interoperability for microwave access (Wi-Max), and cable and fiber networks.

===============

Foreign Policy wrote about this:

WikiLeaks reveals vast U.S. information-gathering operation at the U.N.
Posted By Colum Lynch, Foreign Policy,  Sunday, November 28, 2010

The United States and other big powers have spied on the United
Nations as long as it has existed. But WikiLeaks’ disclosure Sunday of
the first batch of a massive trove of internal U.S. diplomatic cables
and directives gives a sense of how voracious America’s appetite for
information at the U.N. has grown.

A sweeping State Department directive — the 2009 National HUMINT
Collection Directive — instructs U.S. diplomats to collect
information on everything from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s
views on the Middle East to the frequent-flyer account numbers of
foreign delegates to the personal relationships between the U.N.
representatives in Iran and North Korea and top officials in those
governments. (HUMINT is shorthand for Human Intelligence Collection).

The directive, which was signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,
identifies five top near-term intelligence priorities: Sudan, the
conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Somalia, Iran, and North Korea.
But the State Department also expressed interest in a wide spread of
other issues, from U.N. bureaucratic turf battles and revelations of
U.N. corruption to possible financial links between U.N. staff,
foreign governments, and terrorist organizations to voting practices
of third-world countries in the U.N.’s myriad committees.

Most of the directive’s information requests involve standard
diplomatic reporting about foreign governments’ positions. For
instance, it places a high priority on obtaining information about the
positions of the four other permanent members of the Security Council
— Britain, China, France, and Russia — toward Iran, North Korea, and
the Middle East. The directive urges American diplomats to discern the
“views of members states on the next SYG [Secretary General] race, to
include preferred candidates and candidates lacking U.N. member
support.” That phrase provided the first indication that the United
States is at least considering the possibility that Ban may not be
assured a second term when his first 5-year term expires at the end of
2011.

In most cases, the directive simply seeks to use American diplomats to
gauge international attitudes towards a broad spectrum of U.S. and
U.N. policies. For instance, how does the U.N. community view the role
of the U.S. military in resolving conflicts in Africa? What are the
prospects of China and Russia taking a tougher stance on human rights
in Burma or Zimbabwe? How is international sentiment toward the
International Criminal Court evolving?

But it also flags U.S. suspicions about the intentions of its foreign
counterparts, citing concern that countries like China, France, and
India may seek to “gain influence in Africa via U.N. peace
operations.”
(China, for instance, now provides more U.N. peacekeepers
than any other major power). It also voices concern about efforts by
the European Union to secure additional voting rights in the U.N. and
its various agencies, a move that could potentially dilute American
influence.

Carne Ross,  a former British diplomat, said that it’s hardly news
that countries spy on one another at the U.N. “More harmful is the
reality that U.S. cables can be publicized in this devastating
manner,” he told Turtle Bay. “Diplomats may think twice before sharing
confidences with U.S. diplomats — at least until WikiLeaks is
forgotten.”

Perhaps the most surprising detail to emerge so far from the leaks is
the extent to which U.S. diplomats in New York and abroad have been
tasked with activities traditionally associated with intelligence
gathering; i.e., collecting personal or financial information from
their sources.

According to the directive, American diplomats are instructed to
collect detailed biographical information, including business cards,
cell-phone numbers, pagers, faxes, email listings, Internet or
Intranet handles, credit-card and frequent flyer account numbers, and
work schedules. It also calls on U.S. diplomats to collect “biographic
and biometric information on ranking North Korean diplomats,” as well
as on diplomats from China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, South
Africa, Sudan, and Syria.

The new revelations were first divulged Sunday as part of a
coordinated disclosure by WikiLeaks of nearly a quarter of a million
sensitive U.S. diplomatic cables by several international news
organizations, including the New York Times, the Guardian, Der
Spiegel, and Le Monde. WikiLeaks released a selection of the actual
documents on its website Sunday afternoon EST.

The State Department cables are suspected of having been passed on to
WikiLeaks by a 22-year-old intelligence analyst named Bradley Manning,
according to the Guardian. Last spring, Manning was charged with
leaking sensitive materials to WikiLeaks, including a video of an
Apache helicopter killing two Reuters employees in 2007. He is facing
court martial.

In a statement, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley denied
American diplomats had been instructed to conduct espionage: “Our
diplomats are just that, diplomats. They represent our country around
the world and engage openly and transparently with representatives of
foreign governments and civil society. Through this process, they
collect information that shapes our policies and actions. This is what
diplomats, from our country and other countries, have done for
hundreds of years.”

A spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations did not respond
to a request for comment. Farhan Haq, a spokesman for the U.N.
secretary-general, said the U.N. was “not in a position to comment on
the authenticity of the document” but noted that the U.N. is “by its
very nature a transparent organization that makes a great deal of
information about its activities available to the public and member
states.” One U.N. official said that the organization had requested an
explanation from the U.S. government on the allegations, but has not
received an answer.

International treaties prohibit spying at the United Nations, but it
is widely practiced by many states. A British intelligence analyst
once revealed that U.S. and British spies listened in on the
conversations of then Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the eve of U.S.
led invasion of Iraq.

“The UN has previously asserted that bugging the secretary general is
illegal,” the Guardian reported, “citing the 1946 UN convention on
privileges and immunities which states: ‘The premises of the United
Nations shall be inviolable. The property and assets of the United
Nations, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from
search, requisition, confiscation, expropriation and any other form of
interference, whether by executive, administrative, judicial or
legislative action.'”

Other U.S. intelligence targets identified in the State Department directive:

*The U.S. solicits information on “plans and intentions” of U.N.
Security Council members, especially the permanent members, in
considering additional sanctions against North Korea. Also calls on
U.S. diplomats to determine North Korea’s position on “WMD-related
issues” at the United Nations.

*The U.S. seeks information on Ban’s “plans and intentions” regarding
Iran, and wants to known whether the secretary-general or any member
states intend to “pressure” the U.S. to take a particular course in
the Middle East peace process.

*The U.S. solicits information on Iranian efforts to develop or
promote spread of nuclear weapons and build diplomat support for its
activities. Calls for monitoring Tehran’s activities as the chair of
the U.N. Development Program (UNDP), and its membership on the board
of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, an agency that has long touted
Tehran’s counternarcotics efforts. The U.S. is also seeking
information on “development and democratization activities of the UNDP
in Iran; details about the UNDP Resident Coordinator’s relationship
with Iranian officials.”

*Foreign NGOs with influence on a range of issues, including human
rights, globalization, justice and reproductive health. The U.S.
directive voices concern at the capacity of some NGOs to “undermine
U.S. policy initiatives” at the U.N. or to share “confidential”
information with U.N. staff.

*The U.S. seeks information on any possible U.N. plans to expand,
reinforce, or replace the U.N.-backed peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

*The U.S. directive also seeks the views of all key parties, including
Hamas, in influencing the debate on the Middle East at the United
Nations. For instance, it highlights the importance of deciphering the
“views, plans and tactics of Hamas to gain support in the UNSC [U.N.
Security Council] or UNGA [U.N. General Assembly] for its strategies
and positions.”

*The U.S. intelligence community is not only out for itself. The
directive seeks information about possible threats against U.N.
personnel and humanitarian aid workers in Iraq. It also seeks
information on possible financial irregularities in a variety of U.N.
agencies and international funds, including the World Health
Organization and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and
Malaria.

*Solicits information on the views of the Security Council and other
U.N. members toward Cuban, Iranian, and Syrian bids for U.N.
leadership position, presumably in an effort to block them from
succeeding.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 1st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The only solution to the North Korean runaway politics is reunification with acceptance of North Korea elements in the united government. Former US President Carter calls for negotiations. So far none of the non-Koreans was ready to buy this idea – but thanks to the WikiLeaks we learn now that China might accept reunification as a way out from its seemingly unneeded headache.

What will be then the position of the other powers involved in the region?

———-

2010?12/01/
China open to unified Korea, leaked note says.
By Christian Oliver,Geoff Dyer in Seoul, in Beijing

Chinese officials have told international counterparts Beijing could ultimately accept a Korean peninsula unified under Seoul’s control, according to leaked US diplomatic dispatches.

Reports published on the WikiLeaks website on Tuesday counter the perception that China’s defence of the status quo on the Korean peninsula is absolute in spite of Beijing’s refusal to condemn Pyongyang for shelling a South Korean island last week and sinking one of Seoul’s warships in March.

In a diplomatic cable earlier this year, Chun Yung-woo, then South Korea’s vice-foreign minister, told the US ambassador to Seoul that Chinese officials had assured him North Korea “now had little value to China as a buffer.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 24th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)


UNITED NATIONS, November 22, 2010, by Matthew Russell Lee — When Seton Hall hosted UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday, it told the Press to expect a “major policy address entitled, ‘Can the UN Deliver What the World Needs?’”

At a time when for example the UN is accused of playing a role in the introduction and spread of cholera in Haiti, and has killed at least one Haitian demonstrator, one expected this issue to at least be mentioned in the major policy address. But Ban’s speech, as distributed under embargo to the UN press corps, did not even mention Haiti.

Amazingly, Ban’s speech praised his and the UN’s role in Myanmar and went on that “We did the same in Darfur. For years, conflict raged… today, the mission continues to protect civilians.” This right after the slaughter at Tawila, which even Ban acknowledged raised issues about the UN peacekeepers freedom of movement and protection of civilians.

Ban did not mention Sri Lanka, a country where he has been burned in effigy and where after tens of thousands of deaths, the International Crisis Group said the UN’s inaction should be investigated.

Not a mention of the mass rapes in Eastern Congo, and the UN peacekeepers’ inaction. After each of these incidents, the UN has said it can and will do better. But this is soon forgotten, not even mentioned amid the self congratulation.

This speech is described in house as Ban’s re-election speech: “all the great things I have done” (and none of the short falls, none of the need to or commitment to reform – spin, in short.)

An Inner City Press correspondent at the speech reports on questions about the South Sudan referendum, Afghanistan and terrorism, still nothing on cholera in Haiti, mass rape in the Congo.

At Monday’s noon press briefing, Ban’s acting deputy spokesman was asked if Ban would be receiving an honorary degree, as Seton Hall itself had been announcing since last week. Haq would not confirm it. But the speech, even as embargoed, began with thanks for the award. Great Communications system in place at the UN!

————————-

The above was followed with the exchange dated November 24, 2010 – www.innercitypress.com/ban2seton112410.html

———————


November 23, 2010, 9:56 am

A Line in the Sea Divides the Two Koreas

By ROBERT MACKEY, a New York Times blogger.
A screenshot from the Web site of the Korea Herald shows the location of Yeonpyeong island, in disputed waters.Korea Herald A screenshot from the Web site of The Korea Herald shows the location of Yeonpyeong island, in disputed waters.

Updated | 5:21 p.m. The residents of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island, who rushed to air-raid shelters on Tuesday as they came under attack from North Korea, are well aware that they live on the edge of a geopolitical fault line. The island is in disputed waters claimed by both countries, just two miles from the so-called Northern Limit Line, a maritime border the North has never recognized, and only eight miles from the North Korean coast.

Last year, my colleague Martin Fackler visited Yeonpyeong and reported:

Many of the island’s 1,600 civilian residents, mostly graying fishermen, said they felt caught in the middle. But they also say they are accustomed to the periodic escalations in tensions, which they describe as just another part of life on this disputed island.

Most said they were determined to go about their daily work of running their crab boats or tending fish traps along the island’s rocky coast.

As another colleague, Choe Sang-Hun, has explained, the Northern Limit Line — known to Koreans as the N.L.L. — is a reminder that the Korean War is formally on hold, not over.

When the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, rather than a permanent peace treaty, the warring militaries failed to agree upon a western sea border. The American-led United Nations forces unilaterally drew the Northern Limit Line, a border the South Korean and United States militaries have enforced since the end of the war.

But North Korea never accepted it, insisting on a border far south of the United Nations line that cuts deep into waters currently patrolled and fished by the South.

Two experts on the long-simmering border dispute, Mark Valencia and Jenny Miller Garmendia, explained on The Times Op-Ed page in 1999 that the N.L.L. is “equidistant between five islands occupied by South Korea and the North Korean coastline.” They added:

Since the line veers sharply to the north after leaving land, Pyongyang claims that it unfairly gives some of its waters to the South. The armistice agreement stipulates that the five islands are under South Korean control, but jurisdiction over the waters surrounding them is open to some interpretation.

North Korea further argues that its vessels have regularly fished in the waters claimed by the South, and that since the 1970s it has claimed under customary international law a 12-nautical-mile territorial sea in the area, which extends well south of the N.L.L. North Korean fishing boats and naval vessels have crossed the N.L.L. several dozen times a year since the late 1970s.

South Koreans protested in favor of the Northern Limit Line in 2007.Reuters South Korean protesters expressed their support of the Northern Limit Line in 2007.

The disputed maritime border has led to several clashes between the armed forces of the two Koreas in recent years. In August, after North Korea seized a squidding boat and South Korea carried out aggressive naval exercises in the area, the North fired 100 artillery rounds into the sea near Yeonpyeong.

In March, an explosion sank the Cheonan, a South Korean Navy ship, in the same disputed waters. After the ship went down, killing 46 sailors, South Korea and a team on international investigators blamed a North Korean attack.

The two Korean navies also clashed over the N.L.L. in 1999, 2002 and 2009.

Before that, as Reuters reported on Tuesday, North Korea paid only fitful attention to the maritime border — not objecting at all until 1973 and then seeming to agree to recognize it in 1992.

As Mr. Valencia and Ms. Garmendia explained in their 1999 Op-Ed, the clash that year was precipitated by what seemed like unlikely cause for an international incident on a nuclear-armed peninsula: a “concentration of valuable crabs south of the N.L.L.”

Last year, Reuters reported from Yeonpyeong that local fishermen there “said they are losing out on the best crabs to hundreds of Chinese trawlers that pass through the North’s waters to fish in waters off limits to them. When tensions are low, the South’s fishermen try to push as close to the N.L.L. as possible.”

In a succinct analysis of Tuesday’s events on the BBC’s “World Update” program, Brian Myers, an American academic at Dongseo University in South Korea, argued that North Korea’s government needs to provoke military clashes of this kind: both to distract its population from its own economic failures and to bolster its claim to be defending national pride in the face of what it calls American imperialism on the peninsula. Mr. Myers said:

We need to keep in mind that North Korea is a self-described ‘military-first’ state — in other words, a state which justifies its existence not on the basis of any kind of economic promises or economic claims but on the basis of the claim to be the stronger of the two Koreas, the Korea that is standing up for itself. And when you have that kind of raison d’etre, then you need military victories on a periodic basis — or, at least, provocations of the outside world.

I think this kind of thing has been in the cards ever since the South Korean ship was sunk at the end of March, when the South Korean public basically broadcast its reluctance to retaliate militarily against North Korea….

The North Korean regime does not really have to worry so much about easing the way for the successor [to Kim Jong-il], the regime’s greater problem is, how does it justify the existence of this separate North Korea, when you have a thriving, an economically powerful South Korea next door. The only way in which it can do that, since it has failed so spectacularly on the economic front, is to bolster the public’s pride in the regime through shows of military strength and might.

Earlier this year, Mr. Myers wrote, in an essay for Foreign Policy, that his study of North Korean propaganda suggested that the regime’s ideology was not really Communist, but rather, a kind of “paranoid nationalism” that is essentially “racist,” in its affirmation of Korean superiority.

A discussion of the maritime frontier of the N.L.L. in a 2007 report by North Korea’s official news agency, KCNA, gives a sense of the North Korean perspective on the border and its southern neighbors. The report praises an article in another state-run publication for, “disclosing the truth behind the ‘northern limit line’ and clarifying once again the principled stand of [North Korea] on it in connection with the fact that the warlike forces of [S]outh Korea are perpetrating the intrusion into the waters of the north side in the West Sea of Korea not just as a mere provocation but are pursuing the brigandish purpose of bringing under control those waters invaded by them.”

The North Korean report called the N.L.L. “an illegal ghost line… that the U.S. imperialist aggressor troops unilaterally drew… after occupying [S]outh Korea under the helmets of the ‘U.N. forces.’” It adds that “The U.S. imperialists, utterly exhausted after sustaining an unprecedented defeat in the Korean war, ordered Clark, the then commander of the ‘U.N. forces,’ to fix the so-called ‘northern limit line.’”

As for South Korea’s government, the North Korean agency suggested, “The [S]outh Korean authorities, steeped in flunkeyism and submission to the marrow of their bones, seek to attain their political and strategic aims to put an end to [moves toward] reunification and aggravate the north-south relations in a bid to please their American master at any cost.”

————–

China Faces a Nettlesome Neighbor in North Korea.
North Korea’s unending appetite for confrontation has complicated relations with China, its supposed patron.
www.nytimes.com/2010/11/24/world/asia/24beijing.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=a22

Interactive Feature: The North Korean Challenge.
North Korea, a dictatorship armed to the teeth but unable to feed its own people without foreign aid, has specialized in
provoking the international community for survival.
www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/04/05/world/asia/20090405-korea-timeline.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=ab1

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 8th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

U.N. Circus by by Joseph Klein on Nov 8th, 2010

from frontpagemag.com

Once the Obama administration decided last year to join the circus known as the United Nations Human Rights Council, it was only a matter of time before the U.S. faced judgment day on its own human rights record before this dysfunctional UN body.

Our turn came on November 5, 2010. “It is an honor to be in this chamber,” said Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Esther Brimmer to the council on the occasion of America’s examination. ”Star chamber” would be a more fitting description.

The “honor” that Brimmer was referring to was being present at the council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) hearing. The UPR is a rotating periodic examination of all UN member states’ human rights records by the Human Rights Council. The council includes such countries as China, Cuba, Libya and Saudi Arabia. These serial human rights abusers exploit the UPR process to heap praise on each other and whitewash their own abysmal records, while scoring propaganda points against Western democracies with baseless accusations.

Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental organization that monitors the Human Rights Council, captured perfectly the absurdity of America in the dock: “the U.N. system failed today by allowing non-democracies to hijack the session for political propaganda and to drum up anti-American sentiment worldwide.”

Predictably, Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, Russia, China, Algeria, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Libya, and other dictatorships and terrorist-sponsoring states accused America of genocide, war crimes, and systematic anti-Muslim and anti-African racism.

For example, Cuban ambassador Rodolfo Reyes Rodriguez called on the U.S. to end its blockade of the island country, calling it a “crime of genocide.” In addition, Cuba condemned the U.S. for “violations against migrants and mentally ill persons” and called on America to “ensure the right to food and health” for all citizens.

Iran’s delegation demanded the U.S. “halt serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law and even told the United States it needed to “combat violence against women.” Meanwhile, Iran is preparing to execute a woman on trumped up adultery charges.

Libya complained about U.S. “racism, racial discrimination and intolerance.”

North Korea, whose people are literally starving while the regime pursues its militaristic ambitions, told the U.S. “to address inequalities in housing, employment and education.”

The Obama administration should have seen this “bash America” circus coming. Just last year, a report highly critical of the United States — prepared by the United Nations’ former special rapporteur on “contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,” Dr. Doudou Diène — was submitted to the very same UN Human Rights Council that is judging the United States’ human rights record today. Diène comes from Senegal, a predominantly Muslim country and a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

In his report, which Diène wrote following his three week “fact-finding” tour in this country that included meetings with various Islamic groups, Diène concluded that “racism and racial discrimination have profoundly and lastingly marked and structured American society.” He went on to say that the “historical, cultural and human depth of racism still permeates all dimensions of life of American society” and lashed out at what he characterized as “racial profiling” against “people of Arab, Muslim, South Asian or Middle-Eastern descent.”

The current special rapporteur who replaced Diène, Githu Muigai, is not as anti-American as Diène, but has still managed to take a gratuitous swipe at the Arizona anti-illegal immigration law which, he claimed, compromises basic international human rights that migrants are entitled to.

“This is the sort of statute that opens a floodgate, equips a policeman or such other law enforcement person on the beat with such immense powers as to compromise…the very fundamental human rights that ought to be enjoyed in such an enlightened part of the world as Arizona,” Muigai told reporters at a press conference at UN headquarters last week. He contined:

If I have found any specific group of people to be the subject of the most insidious contemporary forms of racial discrimination, those are migrants. And I think in many parts of the world today, immigrants bear the brunt of xenophobic intolerance and this is true of the United States and it is of Europe, and it is of many parts of the world.

It has been often said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result each time. Yet that is precisely what the Obama administration has done in submitting our country’s human rights record to the judgment of the UN Human Rights Council, knowing full well the biases that prevail there.

As former U.S. ambassador to the UN John Bolton put it, “For the Obama administration, this is an exercise in self flagellation, which they seem to enjoy. But it doesn’t prompt equivalent candor from the real rights abusers.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 24th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Is it a conflict of interests if the Korean UN Secretary General glows up to his eyes in Korean problems and glamor?

Our information comes from Matthew Russell Lee reporting and from widely available further sources that start asking more and more about the future of the World with a shivering nuclear Korean Peninsula. So, we cannot but contemplate again and again at how will the neighbors react to a Peninsula reunification that leaves in the Middle of the China, Russia, Japan triangle a nuclear  Korea based on the present South Korea technology married to the North Korean appetite for mischief. But can North Korea stand up much longer by itself alone on chicken legs? If China moves in what will the neighbors be compelled to do? That would be one way to put an end to globalization and the World economy woes.

China can not take this easy – will it intervene? Will this bring in the US? Can the US allow itself another adventure? Will the US and China agree to keep Mr. Ban Ki-moon on so he can speak the language of North Korea? Will they trust him to be neutral? Will China risk its overseas markets?

————

in above context – this last Friday looked like the UN Administration circling the wagons around the Secretary-General and we find this amusing. Please see for yourselves and use the link to get more.

At UN, Korean Themes of Seoul G-20 & Ban 2d Term, DPRK Human Rights Meeting: Links to Transcripts.

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 22, 2010. — The theme at the UN on Friday was Korea, Korea, both North and the South.

Alongside a festival of Korean food in the soon to close Delegates’ Dining Room — the shinsunro spicy seafood soup was particularly good — and a UN Day concert by a Korean symphony, South Korean UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addressed a closed meeting of member states about the upcoming G-20 meeting in Seoul.

Sources tell Inner City Press that statements of support for a second term for Ban are being solicited to be unveiled in Seoul at the G-20, as they were not at the General Debate last month in New York.

Across the hallway of the UN’s North Lawn Building in Conference Room 1, North Korea was the topic of a Third Committee of the GA, on human rights. Numerous western speakers urged North Korea, formally the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, to allow a visit by the Special Rapporteur on human rights in that country, Marzuki Darusman.

If you got the flavor please get more of it at:

 www.innercitypress.com/un1korea10…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 17th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

While the world was watching the Chilean mine, Fared Zakaria says – much else was going on in the world. and we’ll span the globe with a terrific GPS foreign policy panel.

The panel was made up as follows:

– Gideon Rose who was appointed Editor of Foreign Affairs in October 2010. He was Managing Editor of the magazine from 2000-2010.  He has also served as Associate Director for Near East and South Asian Affairs on the staff of the National Security Council and Deputy Director of National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and has taught American foreign policy at Princeton and Columbia.  He is the author of How Wars End (Simon & Schuster, 2010),

– Danielle Pletka – a specialist on Counterterrorism at the American Enterprise Institute were she is Vice President for Foreign and Defense matters,(Washington’s right wing AEI), She was born on Melbourne and has experience in the Middle Easr, South East Asia and the US Senate,

– and Crystia Freeland the Global Editor-at-Large at Reuters News until march 1st, 2010 she was the US based editor in Chief of The Financial Times. She is an Alberta Ukrainian-Canadian and had a brilliant record on the McLaughlin Group.

Among other people on the October 17, 2010 program, the likes of the would be rulers of North Korea of the Kim Jong-il’s family and the Sunni backed contender for the Iraqi leadership – Iyad Allawi, a secular Shia, there was also Peter Diamond, The newest American Economist to win the Nobel Prize – nearly unbelievable for Unemployment studies at a time that all agree the US must do something about Unemployment.

In this posting I do not intend to review the contributions of each one of these people. I rather want to say – that as different as they might be – I sensed that there was a clear unity in the way they evaluate the policy choices before Washington,

First let us look at Peter Diamond of MIT. He was nominated January 14, 2010 by President Obama to be on the Federal Reserve Board that is chaired by a former student of his – no other then Ben Bernanke – but Senator Shelby of the GOP from Alabama had the audacity to say that Peter Diamond will have to “Learn on the Job” – so he is not the man up to the job. Strange as it is – it reminded me of the Peace Prize having been awarded to Liu Xiaobo. The Chinese also said he was not up to the job either. ERGO – THERE IS A DEEP SIMILARITY BETWEEN SHELBY AND WEN – THEY ARE BOTH FAT – but that is where it ends. Premier Wen Jiabao has done a lot of good to his country while Senator Richard Shelby has mainly interfered with efforts to find solutions for the USA.

Is this an offensive depiction of Washington? I do not think so, neither do I believe that any of that panel would have said that it was.

First – everybody knows that the Republicans will win the House of Representatives on November 2nd 2010, and get close to equalize their position in the Senate – so next year they will have to take responsibility in the governing of the country. Frivolty will not fly anymore or they will dig themselves a very large hole come the 2012 elections.

Second – it does not seem that the Republicans have asked Professor Diamond for his opinions. He said to Fareed that, allowing for not everything to be always done to perfection, Obama was to be commended for having provided the needed stimulae to help the economy from avoiding a deep Depression – and Bernanke as “a student of the Depression,” understood you have to “step in” – so here a bravo from the teacher. Asked if  the real problem is that there is a structural problem that American workers do not have the skills for new Jobs? Diamond said that actually the catch is not that the labor market does not work, but that there is no demand. The government must provide money to the States and local Government to reduce the lay-offs. There must be credit flows and when the financial markets seize-up it gets worse he said. If the government did not act it would have been much worse. Diamond believes the Federal Economy is resilient and will adapt to new situations even in the situation of 10% unemployment. It will take at least another year to start moving.

Third – asked – “what would you do about the Bush Tax Cut?” he said that it is important to preserve some of it, but in the long run we should not make it permanent – we must look into the detail – some will get more taxes and some will get less.

In summary – Peter Diamond is no different from the Goldman-Sachs economists that supported the Clinton and Obama economics so far. That does not make him a favorite of mine, but it cearly made him very much the consensus candidate of the people on this TV program. That clearly should also cause a change of mind of Senator Shelby comes 2011 and a year after the job offer to him from President Obama, Nobel Prize winner Peter Diamond could be the third Scandinavia recognized American in the Obama Administration.

Listening to Allawi, we learned that it is almost full 9 months of gestation and pregnant Iraq has not given birth yet to a government. This is the longest time in history of elections that a country stayed without a government – said Fareed. With one major bloc backed by the Shi’a of Iran and the other main bloc hindered by Sunni extremism that re-established its links to Al-Qaida, we can predict a mess by the time the US proceeds with its pull-out. Services are lacking, the economy is stagnant, unemployment – this is the Iraq of today. From Somalia to Pakistan via Palestine  – it is the political environment that breeds extreme forces. Also the Saudis – it is said that they back Sunni hold-outs. This works in the favor of the Shi’i and the peace process is sabotaged. But then, the good politician he is, Allawi says that the kings of Saudi Arabia and Jordan, President Mubarak want to see positive moves – it is only Iran that stands in the way.

All the above set the stage for the panel were Gideon Rose is responsible for having written “HOW TO END WARS.”

Fareed remarked that it is easier not to start new wars then to pull out from existing wars.

Chrystia said that “WARS END BECAUSE COUNTRIES RUN OUT OF MONEY” and Fareed mentioned that no-one remembers now why there was the war in Korea that dragged for one and a half years for no clear reason.

THE CONSENSUS WAS THAT IT WILL BE EASIER TO GET OUT OF AFGHANISTAN THEN TO CUT ENTITLEMENTS.

So, back to it – it is all about availability of money – if there is no money you can have no war. The US issue in the November 2nd 2010 elections is unemployment and money – no one taks now of Iraq or Afghanistan. What if there will be a new war situation? and the North Korea developments might pose the US against China.

Let’s see. Fareed and the others agreed that the media has now 25 times more questions on China then Afghanistan – and let us not forget that future global relations will be about who owes what to whom.

WE WILL NOT TALK ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS ANYMORE WHEN ADDRESSING CHINA – THERE WILL BE MANY ISSUES WE WILL NOT MENTION ANYMORE.

There will be a change from China being now second power to becoming first power – America will be the second power by 2030.

Pletka supported Obama on Afghanistan. She still believes in power play but Fareed remarked to her that Obama probably did well about Iran – at least judged from the fact that the Israelis do not scream as much s before.” But her answer was that most of Irans neighbors are warried about Iran, and they tell you so the moment the door is closed behind you.

Rose remarked that when America pulls back that is when we find that America gets more desired around the world – as they see America is needed.

Fareed – in korea they told me that they are worried if America pulls out and Pletka hopes we will not be constrained by the economy.

Chrystia remarks that America sees that China is able to do great infrastructure projects. But earlier we saw that nuclear North Korea is going to implode. Next leadership is not built on charisma and is rather a construct with a halfwit at top entrusted to a regent who is the the brother in law, while the sister was just taken out of her home and closed in a general’s uniform.

If South Korea moves in and brings about the logical reunification – what happens to the nuclear weapons? Can China accept a strong united nuclear Korea at its border? Will this lead to a US – China confrontation? Is this part of a post Iraq/Afghanistan US adventurism?

How will the shared Republican/Democrat Congress react to an incident these coming two years?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 13th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

China’s State Capitalism Poses Ethical Challenges.

By Ian Bremmer, Devin T. Stewart

GlobalPost, August 10, 2010

CREDIT: Bert van Dijk (CC).

Earlier this summer, a company owned in part by the Chinese government bought a 5.1 percent stake in the only American-owned provider of enriched uranium for use in civilian nuclear reactors.

The stake is small, but its implications are considerable. The American company, USEC, was involved with the original development of the atomic bomb during World War II. Chinese involvement could raise concerns about national security in Washington, and given China’s opaque form of economic management, the transaction raises other ethical issues around transparency and fairness.

In the long run, however, free market economies like the United States would best serve the cause of individual freedom worldwide by practicing what they preach. They should keep the global flow of money, ideas, and goods open.

As China’s economy grows, its political influence will expand, bringing Beijing into ever-closer contact with the interests of others. As the world’s largest exporter, for example, China will find itself in competition (and sometimes conflict) with a diverse set of multinational companies and governments. Within China, there will be more clashes involving the collision of local rules with foreigners and their business models.

Beijing continues to welcome foreign investment, but recent labor disputes at a Honda Motor factory and a spate of suicides involving workers at Foxconn, a Taiwanese-invested Chinese company that manufactures the Apple iPhone, underline the clash of political and commercial cultures. Sometimes these confrontations produce compromise or even a convergence of standards. At other times, open conflict is the likelier scenario.

China is the world’s leading practitioner of state capitalism, a system in which governments use state-owned companies and investment vehicles to dominate market activity. The primary difference between this form of capitalism and the Western, more market-driven variety, is that decisions on how assets should be valued and resources allocated are made by political officials (not market forces) with political goals in mind.

In China, robust growth is a good thing, as long as it doesn’t have second-order effects that undermine the leadership’s monopoly hold on political power. Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and other governments practice various forms of this system, but China gives state capitalism its global significance.

The political agenda behind China’s state capitalist development is a complicated one. On the one hand, the financial crisis and global market meltdown have bolstered the arguments of those within the Chinese leadership who warn that reliance for economic growth on exports to Europe, America, and Japan exposes China to Western market volatility. In response, Beijing will gradually work to increase domestic demand for Chinese products and to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign consumers. On the other hand, the leadership knows that Chinese companies must adopt Western working standards and management techniques if labor unrest is to be contained.

The cases of Honda and Foxconn, which employs some 800,000 people in China, underline a remarkable trend: Chinese workers are demanding and receiving better working conditions and wages. For example, the Guangdong Provincial People’s Congress may give workers the officially sanctioned right to strike. This marks a positive development in the interaction of state capitalist and market-driven economics, but continued progress won’t come easy. The Chinese leadership will respect labor rights when necessary and ignore them when possible.

The financial crisis and BP’s oil spill remind us that excessive focus on near-term profits continue to plague market-driven capitalism. Yet, state capitalism poses profound ethical challenges of its own.

First, when state-owned companies go abroad in search of new contracts, they are not bound by shareholder opinion or reputational risk. As a result, they can do business in places and with people that their private-sector rivals cannot—and with a high degree of secrecy.

There are familiar examples like Iran, Sudan, and Myanmar. In Guinea last year, just 15 days after soldiers shot down 157 pro-democracy demonstrators, an unnamed Chinese company signed a $7 billion mining contract with the Guinean government. Multinational companies can no longer afford such transactions.

In addition, within free market democracies, courts exist to safeguard the rights of individuals and companies. In state capitalist countries, they exist to legitimize the state’s hold on political power. As a result, when the White House pressures BP to pay damages, the company knows it will have its day in court. In China, a foreign company is unlikely to win a ruling against the government.

In the United States, companies “lawyer up.” In China, they are “Googled out.”

Take Google, for example. When Google executives decided that cyber-attacks on its Gmail accounts from inside China could no longer be tolerated, they decided on open confrontation with China’s government over censorship issues. Google remains a relatively popular brand with Chinese internet users, but there were several reasons why Beijing would rather force Google out than compromise with it.

First, there are other search engine firms that do not challenge the leadership’s right to restrict the flow of information. Second, one of those firms is Baidu, a Chinese company with friends in government and a much larger Chinese market share than Google. The message sent to Google was clear: Lawyer up if you want to, but you have started a war you cannot win.

The clash of market-driven and state-driven capitalism poses other questions. Should U.S. lawmakers allow a company or investment fund owned by a foreign government to own significant stakes in a U.S. financial firm or oil company?

On the one hand, the political firestorm that erupted in Washington when China National Offshore Oil Corporation tried to buy U.S.-owned Unocal in 2005 generated plenty of friction in U.S.-Chinese relations and did lasting damage to America’s reputation as a destination for foreign investment.

Yet, there are good reasons to scrutinize these kinds of proposals. State-owned companies and sovereign wealth funds based in authoritarian countries are often as opaque as their governments. Is it not reasonable to wonder how such a company or fund will manage its new assets before approving a sale with potential security implications?

On the other hand, if relatively free market countries are to compete successfully with state capitalist systems, it won’t be by trying to beat them at their own protectionist game.

The unprecedented cross-border flows of ideas, information, people, money, goods, and services have already done a lot of good for a lot of people. If allowed to develop further, they will eventually open state capitalist systems to a degree of free market competition that will force them to change.

Not all trades are good ones. Some foreign investment might legitimately compromise U.S. national security. But if the goal is to shift power and wealth from authoritarian governments into the hands of private citizens, the game must be played on free market terms.

—————————-

Ian Bremmer is president of Eurasia Group and author of The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations? Devin Stewart is program director and senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, where Bremmer is a trustee.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 13th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

While Author Says Ban Is 3rd “Giant of Asia,” Ban Denies Making Commitment.

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 12 — Two days after author Tom Plate repeatedly said that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would be the subject of the third book in his “Giants of Asia” series, Ban’s spokesman on Thursday told Inner City Press Ban has not made any commitment to Plate or anyone else. Video here, from Minute 15:33.

Plate’s comments were made at a book party for the first in the series, about Singapore’s founder Lee Kuan Yew. Plate said that the second would be about Mahathir of Malaysia and the third would be about “someone who is in the room, who is Secretary General, whose name I will not mention.”

Also during his opening presentation, Plate said that “Ban Ki-moon confirms that Singapore’s candidate [for UN Secretary General in 2006] withdrew, opening the field even more” for Ban.

While Plate is or was a journalist, strangely requests were made just before the book party that no Press be present. It was too late, invitations had been made.

The entire event was witnessed, hence the follow up question Inner City Press asked Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky after Thursday’s backtracking. From the UN’s transcript of its August 12 noon briefing:

Inner City Press: yesterday, I’d asked you about this Giants of Asia series and the Secretary-General being the third subject of it. You said, “I’ll look into it.” Have you? And is he going to do it? And how much time will it take? And what’s the benefit to the UN organization?

Spokesperson: What I can tell you is that the Secretary-General has made no commitment to Mr. [Tom] Plate, or indeed to anyone else, with regard to a book.

Question: Mr. Plate said on Monday that he had, and I’ve talked to some other senior UN officials who have said he is the third one in the series, so I guess is there some… has there been some change?

Spokesperson: Well, I can tell you that the Secretary-General has made no commitment to Mr. Plate or indeed to anyone else.

Question: Okay, when was the last time he saw Mr. Plate?

Spokesperson: What’s that got to do with it?

Question: Because I, well…

Spokesperson: That’s got nothing to do with it, Matthew. I can tell you that the Secretary-General has made no commitment to Mr. Plate or indeed anyone else. Okay.

When is a commitment a commitment?

========================================================================================

UN’s Ban To Be 3rd “Giant of Asia” by Tom Plate, Lee Kuan Yew’s Confidante on Sri Lankan “Ethnic Cleansing.”

By Matthew Russell Lee – www.innercitypress.com

UNITED NATIONS, ICP, August 11, 2010  — Starting with a 200 page book of “Conversations with Lee Kuan Yew,” the get-things-done founder of modern Singapore, American author Tom Plate is engaged in a Giants of Asia trilogy. The next in the series is Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia.

The third Giant of Asia, Plate said at a VIP book party on August 10, will be UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Plate told an audience including the Permanent Representatives to the UN of Vietnam, Costa Rica, The Netherlands and of course Singapore, which hosted the event, that in his experience Asian leaders are more concerned about community rights than individual or human rights.

He asked rhetorically, do you want to solve the problem of drug gangs in Los Angeles? Give Lee Kuan Yew $10 billion, and look away for 18 months. Come back and it will be solved.

Some in the audience wondered what might happen during those 18 months, from the leader who instituted caning for the mis disposal or even chewing of gum. A professor in the audience asked about the balance between development and human rights.

Plate responded that while to the “Western” mind, publicly punishing the wrong person in order to send a message to others might violate due process, to Lee Kuan Yew and presumably the other Giants of Asia, the calculus is not so simple.

If the mis-punishment helps the community at large, it might on balance be a good thing, Plate said.

Inner City Press, invited without conditions to the event but then asked to not mention at least one of the attendees, asked Plate if he would consider interviewing some of the some openly authoritarian strong men of Asia, including Than Shwe of Myanmar and Kim Jong-Il of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Plate replied that if asked to go to Pyongyang and given access to Kim Jong-Il, he would be on the next plane. He said that he doubted Than Shwe, at 76, could endure the type of multi-day interview process which he engaged in with Lee Kuan Yew.

One wonders, then, how a sitting Secretary General, embroiled in a management scandal triggered most recently by the damning End of Assignment Report of outgoing lead UN investigator Inga Britt Ahlenius, will have time to sit for this Giants of Asia profile.

Without attributing the concerns, there seem to have been a belated request not to publicize the identity of Plate’s third Giant of Asia until after Mr. Ban’s second term is more secure.

But, one cynical in the audience asked, is the problem the publicity or the vanity book project itself?


UN’s Ban Depicted in Sri Lanka: Giant of Asia?

Inner City Press first heard of Plate’s book when a section about Sri Lanka was circulated, largely by the Tamil diaspora. Lee Kwan Yew is quoted on page 55 saying the –

example is Sri Lanka. It is not a happy, united country. Yes, they [the majority Sinhalese government] have beaten the Tamil Tigers this time, but the Sinhalese who are less capable are putting down a minority of Jaffna Tamils who are more capable. They were squeezing them out. That’s why the Tamils rebelled. But I do not see them ethnic cleansing all two million plus Jaffna Tamils. The Jaffna Tamils have been in Sri Lanka as long as the Sinhalese…[referring to Sri Lanka’s president Mahinda Rajapaksa] ‘I’ve read his speeches and I knew he was a Sinhalese extremist. I cannot change his mind.’”

Plate was asked about this section of the book, and said that it was difficult to keep it in. Afterward, Inner City Press asked Plate to explain: how had wanted the section to come out? Of all that he said Tuesday night, this was the only time that Plate asked to go off the record. We will respect that, just as we’ll respect the request to omit the presence of at least one individual and entourage.


Singapore’s Mission to the UN, its Permanent Representative Vanu Gopala Menon, his Deputy, wife and staff are to be commended for hosting such an eclectic crowd, and serving afterward such good food, including the Indian paratha break renamed roti — and tinged with coconut — when it arrived in Lee Kuan Yew’s giant laboratory in one of the smallest nation states.

There was Tamil advocates among the attendees, including the son of the plaintiff in a recent free speech case in the U.S. Supreme Court. Some wondered at the irony of Ban Ki-moon, who long delayed naming, and still has not begun, a panel about accountability for civilian deaths in Sri Lanka in 2009, choosing as his conversational biographer the writer who coaxed the above quoted analysis of ethnic cleansing and Sinhalese extremism in Sri Lanka, to the level of the president.

We will have more on this and on the rest of Plate’s illuminating talk, including his and Lee Kuan Yew’s views of the UN and the ways in which its Secretary General are elected and, at times, re-elected. The interplay of Ban’s drive for re-election and his participation at Plate’s third “Giant of Asia” will also be explored.

* * *

At UN, Ban’s Travails Trigger Candidacy Tales, De Mistura, Zeid, Kubis, Kerim or even Bachelet or Bill Clinton, Game On

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 9 — Alternate candidates to Ban Ki-moon are emerging before the next UN Secretary General term begins on January 1, 2012. Tellingly, even people given UN posts by Ban Ki-moon are among reported candidates.

Ban named Staffan de Mistura as his representative in Afghanistan, after de Mistura hired Ban’s son in law Siddarth Chatterjee as his chief of staff with the UN in Iraq. (Ban’s son in law has since been hired by Jan Mattsson as a high official of the UN Office of Project Services in Copenhagen).

But, people recruited to work for the UN in Afghanistan tell Inner City Press, de Mistura harbors the dream of swooping in as a dark horse candidate to replace Ban in late 2011.

There is “blood in the water,” these sources say, particularly following the damning End of Assignment report of Inga Britt Ahlenius. Ban’s “melt down” then retraction on August 9 about job promises made in the course of replacing Ahlenius won’t help either.

The problem for de Mistura and other non-Asian contenders is that the S-G position is said to belong to a regional group for at least 10 years.

When the U.S. vetoed Egypt’s Boutros Boutros Ghali in 2005, the post next went to another African. So it would be with Ban, the assumption goes, with China demanding equal treatment for Asia.

But, as Inner City Press reported some time ago, even Team Ban has a theory that the U.S. might trade its de facto ownership of the top World Bank post to China in exchange for the right to replace Ban with a S-G of its choice.

De Mistura, having served as U.S. ground cover and fig leaf in Iraq and then Afghanistan, feels he would have U.S. support. A long shot candidate mentioned is Bill Clinton. Others point to Jose Ramos Horta of Timor Leste, in the Asian group like another candidate, Zeid Bin Ra’ad of Jordan.


UN’s Ban and de Mistura: one bleary eyed with lack of sleep, the other looking long

Lula of Brazil would appear to have lost U.S. support, given his country’s vote against the recent sanctions on Iran. Shashi Tharoor appears to have shot himself in the foot with Cricket-gate.

More savvy, some say, is Michelle Bachelet. She is understood to have not leaped at the offer of the top UN Women post. Does this mean that, like with the UNICEF post given to Tony Lake, she is shooting higher?
From those heights, at UNDP, Helen Clark is often mentioned.

There are other plotters. Some point to the alliance between Ms. Ahlenius and Alicia Barcena, who left the top UN Management post when Ban came in and went to ECLAC in Santiago, Chile. She was in New York and dined with Ahlenius shortly before Ahlenius leaked her memo. Also involved, sources say, was Barcena’s Management predecessor Christopher Burnham.

Next in line, they argue, are the Eastern European states. From 2006, there is Vaira Vike-Freiberga. Jan Kubis is mentioned (Ban gave him a temporary post during the violence in Kyrgyzstan), along with former General Assembly president Srgjan Kerim, to whom Ban gave a Special Envoy on Climate Change UN post. Do you see a pattern here?

There are candidates galore, and there is blood in the water,” as one source puts it. Let the games begin.

This all comes, as Inner City Press first reported, against the backdrop of ad hoc meetings to “revitalize the General Assembly” which are discussing requiring Ban Ki-moon to come before the GA to seek his second term, and not only the Security Council.

Specifically, under the heading “Selection of the Secretary General,” the draft “takes note of the views expressed at the Ad Hoc Working Group at the 64th session and bearing in mind the provisions of Article 97 of the Charter, emphasizes the need for the process of selection of the Secretary General to be inclusive of all Member States and to be made more transparent.. including through presentation of candidates for the position of the Secretary General in an informal plenary of the General Assembly.”

Interestingly, the marked up draft of this pending paragraph reads as follows:

10. Affirms its commitment to continuing its consideration of the revitalization of the General Assembly’s role in the selection and appointment of the Secretary General, including through (encouraging (Algeria / NAM: delete and add ‘the’) Russian Federation: retain) presentation of candidates for the position of Secretary General in an informal plenary of the General Assembly before the Security Council considers the matter (Russian Federation); Russian Federation: bracket entire para.”

10 Alt. Also encourages formal presentation of candidatures for the position of the Secretary General in a manner than allows sufficient time for interaction with member states, and requests candidates to present their views to all Member States of the General Assembly (Belgium / EU, US & Russia) (Algeria / NAM supports Islamic Republic of Iran proposal of retaining as OP 10 bis).”

In the Security Council, placating or giving patronage to the five Permanent Members would be enough to gain the second term. But if the GA and regional grouping get involved, Ban’s snubs like that of Africa for the deputy post in the UN Development Program, and the devaluation of the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa, could come back to haunt Ban, along with his more recent appointment of Alvaro Uribe to his Gaza flotilla panel, over the objections of Venezuela which wil head the Group of 77 and China.

* * *

At UN, As Ban Denies Deals with Israel and for OIOS Posts, Doubts Raised About Both, What was US Told?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 10 — Just as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated on August 9 that he made no “agreement behind the scenes” that Israeli Defense Forces will not be interviewed by his Panel of Inquiry, he now maintains that no commitment of posts in the Office of Internal Oversight Services was made to gain support for his replacement candidate to head OIOS, Carman Lapoint-Young.

But questions arose on August 10 about discrepancies between the transcript of Ban’s August 9 remarks and the UN’s subsequent denial. Ban said

he was one of the finalists, the South African whom you are talking about. If he [had been] willing to take the job, then I was okay [for him] to fill that post. There are certain cases when someone was applying for a certain post, and where she or he was not successful for that post, and because of the excellent quality of the candidate – we really wanted to keep certain candidates in our system – we offered a lower rank.”

But shortly after he said this — even the transcript is inaccurate — Ban’s Office said

The Secretary-General wants to make it absolutely clear that the recruitment process for the Director of the Investigations Division will start only after the new Under-Secretary-General of the Office of Internal Oversight Services has taken up her post. This selection will be conducted strictly in accordance with the established rules and procedures. The assertion that a South African was offered the job is completely unfounded.”

Inner City Press on August 10 asked Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky had Ban had meant by “we offered a lower rank.” Nesirky resplied that Ban “was confused by what the question was,” and claimed that the comment was a “general statement of principle not related to OIOS.” Video here, from Minute 31:26.

It is not a general statement of principle to say ““he was one of the finalists, the South African.. we offered a lower rank.” It is a statement about a particular individual being made an offer.

Likewise, Israel’s Benyamin Netanyahu insisted on August 10 that despite Ban’s August 9 denials, Ban has made a “discrete” agreement that the panel would not interview IDF personnel. Ban had said he made no “agreement behind the scenes.”

At the end of his August 9 press conference, Ban urged journalists to focus on the “big issues” and not personnel (or “personal”) disputes. But if an answer about offering OIOS post(s) in order to gain support for a candidate for OIOS does not have credibility, how does an answer about a “discrete” agreement about the mandate of the UN Gaza flotilla panel?


UN’s Ban and Barak, discrete agreement not shown

A Security Council diplomat on August 10 approached Inner City Press with another connection between the August 9 OIOS questions and Ban’s panels on Gaza and Sri Lanka. If Ban was so rattled and pushed by a single journalist — even the “overgrown schoolboy” –imagine, the diplomat mused, what happens between Ban and Israel, or Sri Lanka.

As for the outgrown schoolboy, he points out: wasn’t it a schoolboy who said “the Emperor has no clothes”?  Indeed…

Footnote: further to US Ambassador Susan Rice’s statement that the UN’s Gaza flotilla panel is “not a substitute” for national proceedings, Inner City Press is that during the Security Council consultations on the press statement by which Council welcomed Ban’s panel, the U.S. opposed linking the panel to the Council’s own May 31 – April 1 President Statement calling for an investigation.

So what did Ban tell Susan Rice and the US about the panel and its scope? Or about post promises made to get Ms. Lapoint confirmed as head of OIOS?

* * *

At UN, Ban “Melts Down, Admits” Dealing An OIOS Post to a South African, Calls Ethics Questions Small, 2d Term in Play

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 9, updated — “I always do the right thing,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Monday, faced with long pending questions about mis-management and undermining the independence of the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services.

But Ban appeared to admit violating a founding principle of OIOS, that the Secretary General not intrude and give out top OIOS jobs on a political basis.

He was asked repeatedly to confirm or deny that he promised the second level OIOS post to a South African, to gain support for his appointment of a Canadian, Ms. Lapointe Young, to replace outgoing Inga Britt Ahlenius. (Inner City Press was the first to report this deal, here.)

At first Ban suggested these questions be dealt with in a separate session. Then he portrayed them as “small” questions. Many reporters were unclear if they were being directed to not get into “personal” or “personnel” questions.

The latter seems difficult, since Ban ultimately said he had personally taken the personnel decision to give the second OIOS post, even before the ostensibly independent new director comes in, to a South African candidate.

Many correspondents were frustrated at how the press conference was run, with no questions taken on Sudan — which is threatening to throw the UN out, while starving the residents of the Kalma Camp — or the Rwanda election or the Ban administrations flip-flip on Kashmir.

But even those most focused on UN management and Ms. Ahlenius’ damning End of Assignment Report were dissatisfied by Ban’s answer that any questioning of his administration’s ethics is unfair. There are a range of questions, including about Ban’s most senior advisers. These, they say, will be coming out as a second term for Ban is considered.


UN’s Ban pre melt down, post deals not shown

Ban was asked about his Gaza flotilla panel — he said no side agreement was made with Israel not to interview its soldiers — but not about his stalled and even most constrained panel on Sri Lanka war crimes.

He was asked about appointing Alvaro Uribe to the Gaza panel, despite Venezuela’s recent complaints. Ban said he has known Uribe as Secretary General for a long time, and that Uribe has his “full confidence.” What will Venezuela, the next head of the Group of 77 and China, say?

As one snarky correspondent said after what he called Ban’s “melt down,” this politically is the time when alternate candidates to become Secretary General in 2012 will begin to appear, even before the upcoming General Debate in mid September. Watch this site.

Footnote: even on the ostensible topic of Ban’s first press conference since the Ahlenius memo, the High Level Panel on Global Sustainability, lack of candor became apparent. When, after his loss of power in Australia, Kevin Rudd flew to New York and met with Ban, Inner City Press attended the photo op, and noted that Ban’s climate advisor Janos Pasztor was in attendance, and that the meeting lasted a full 50 minutes.

Inner City Press asked Ban’s spokesperson if the meeting involved the offering of a UN position of any kind. It was just a courtesy call, Inner City Press was repeatedly told — even after Rudd, back in Australia, bragged through his spokesman about the offer of a post.

At the end of Ban’s press conference, Inner City Press asked Pasztor if in the meeting with Rudd, the supposed courtesy call, this post was discussed. Yes, Pasztor said. Some courtesy call. The same snarky reporter laughed at the inclusion of US Ambassador Susan Rice on the panel, calling it a craven attempt to nail down US support for a second term as Secretary General. We’ll see.

Update of 12:41 pm: after publication of the above, UN Spokesperson – Do Not Reply sent this:

Subject: UN Spokesperson’s clarification regarding the Office of Internal Oversight Services
Date: Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 12:34 PM

The Secretary-General wants to make it absolutely clear that the recruitment process for the Director of the Investigations Division will start only after the new Under-Secretary-General of the Office of Internal Oversight Services has taken up her post. This selection will be conducted strictly in accordance with the established rules and procedures. The assertion that a South African was offered the job is completely unfounded.

If you say so.” Compare to video, here. And, there are two D-2 posts in OIOS…

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 9th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Sunday, Aug. 8, 2010

Russia’s new war anniversary.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on July 25 signed into law a bill designating Sept. 2 as “the anniversary of the end of World War II.” The bill had been approved by the State Duma (lower house) on July 8 and by the Federation Council (upper house) on July 14.

The law has been interpreted as effectively commemorating the Soviet Union’s victory over Japan on Sept. 2, 1945. Tokyo signed a surrender document on that day aboard the U.S. battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. As this year is the 65th anniversary of the war’s end, Russia may carry out large-scale celebrations Sept. 2 centering on the Russian Far East.

On July 3-4, the Russian military carried out a military exercise involving some 1,500 soldiers and 200 military and special-purpose vehicles on Etorofu Island, the northernmost and biggest of four islands, northeast of Hokkaido, that are claimed by both Japan and Russia.

In 1998, then President Boris Yeltsin vetoed a similar bill in consideration of Japan-Russia relations. Mr. Medvedev has taken the opposite tack. Russia apparently aims to justify its effective control of what Japan calls the Northern Territories and check Japan’s attempt to get the four islands back. Japan did not strongly protest the enactment of the law because the phrase “victory over Japan” is not used.

Nevertheless, the Kan administration must firmly maintain Japan’s official stand on its sovereignty over the Northern Territories and persevere in trying to break the deadlock over the territorial issue. Japan maintains that the Soviet Union declared war against Japan on Aug. 9, 1945, in violation of the Japan-Soviet neutrality pact, and that its military illegally seized the islands between Aug. 29 and Sept. 9 of that year.

Despite the anniversary law, Russia considers economic cooperation with Japan, especially in developing the Russian Far East, indispensable for modernizing the Russian economy, which at present relies mainly on natural resource exports. Japan should make every effort to take advantage of this opportunity to improve its position in the territorial row.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

from The Korea Society <The_Korea_Society@mail.vresp.com>

Like everyone else we try to understand the sense in the sinking of the South Korean (the Republic of Korea ROK) ship and we were glad to have the chance to listen to the official ROK version, this after we were familiar with a Japan Times article that mentioned two South Korean professors living in the US that expressed serious doubt about this version. We are trained to discredit the North Korea version because we have indeed little belief in anything this only remainig Stalinist regime puts forward. So this is not our problem. Our problem is rather that we sense here a difference of points of view betwen ROK and the US and this could sign in new times of danger in the Far East.

What does this have to do with Sustainable Development? It does. We wrote several times in the past of the terrific internal market a re-united Korea would have, so its future could be as bright as that of the re-united Germany. The placing of a Germany of the East in the middle of the China – Japan – India triangle could help push forward the whole region and help with the new economy of the 21st century.

Stability and Security on the Korean Peninsula

In the wake of the Cheonan sinking and heightened international concern, Korea’s political and military establishment have exercised tremendous restraint and weighed various and difficult options. Join the Korea Society in welcoming Korean Vice Minister of Defense Chang Soo-Man as he assesses the post-Cheonan security situation on the Peninsula. He will analyze and evaluate nuclear and other security concerns on the Korean Peninsula, explore the “common management” strategy between the United States and Korea, and weigh prospects for new developments in the security situation. His talk marks the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War and celebrates the enduring ROK-U.S. alliance.
The speaker was an unusually experienced Korean man. He has 30 years experience as an economist. He has degrees in economics from Korea and from Brown University. He worked many years at the World Bank, with the Korean Mission to the UN, was Vice Minister of Trade and now of Defense. He knows the economics aspects of Korean Foreign Policy, and is the right person to look after ROK interests when faced with the World worries from stirrup of Korean possibilities of restarting that 60 year old “Forgotten War.”

South Korea wants to be granted an image of stability and stable management of the Peninsula. After analyzing the Security Council resolution on the Cheonan incident, it looks like one-sided and strengthening the US-ROK relations with a strong feeling of recomitment in the US. Was this the objective of an exercise?

On the North Korean side they clearly would like to stabilize the economy. They do not come out with large provocative acts but continue since Cheonan with a string of small provocations and it is remembered that they have some 30-40 kilo of Plutonium.

Politically the language is strange.

The ROK speaks of PEACE, ECONOMY, HAPPY COMMUNITY on the peninsula, while the North wants to talk via the 6-Party dialogue intermediary route.

Now to the ROK Cheonan: “It was an underwater explosion of a CHT -02D torpedo that created a shock wave and bubble effect that broke the ship in half.” This is backed by an international group of experts that was organized by South Korea. But then, as we will see from the article in the Japan Times, there seem to be signs that the old ship had structural problems, the Aluminum was being attacked – some white powder was found and perhaps it was just a plain accident that was indeed not caused by the North Koreans. But that does not mean anyway that they are angels.

The Vice Minister points out that the US has returned to Korea 47 out of the 80 bases it had and the USFK relocation project concentrates the forces to two hubs.

With all of this Moody’s ratings went up and there is hope a US-Korea Free Trade Agreement will be ratified.

——————

search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/nn20100710b2.html

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Scholars doubt Cheonan finding
Staff report, The Japan Times

Two visiting U.S.-based experts called Friday in Tokyo for a
reinvestigation into the sinking of a South Korean warship allegedly
by a North Korean submarine, arguing a multinational probe and report
on the incident had many inconsistencies and flaws.

The report, released in May, was based on a probe by the Joint
Civilian-Military Investigation Group (JIG) to look into the March
sinking of the Cheonan and the loss of 46 South Korean sailors.

Jae Jung Suh, an associate professor of international politics at
Johns Hopkins University in Washington D.C., and Seung Hun Lee, a
professor of physics at the University of Virginia, claimed the
condition of the salvaged Cheonan is inconsistent with the JIG
conclusion that the sinking was due to a shock wave and a bubble
effect and that the blue ink marking on the torpedo reading “No. 1” in
Hangul would have been burned off in a detonation.

They also said the “white compounds” found on both the recovered ship
and torpedo were not substances resulting from an explosion but are
most likely “rusted” aluminum exposed to moisture or water for a long
time.”

“We do not know (what happened to the Cheonan), and nobody knows at
the moment,” Suh said Friday at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of
Japan in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward.

————————————

THE UPDATE IS THAT WEDNESDAY JULY 22, 2010, US Secretary of State Ms. Hillary Clinton and US Secretary of Defense Mr. Robert Gates, will be in Seoul to discuss security issues and the continuing tension with North Korea.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 9th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

At UN, N. Korea Ambassador Declares Victory, Came Late to Dark Press Area.
By Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press.
UNITED NATIONS, July 9 — North Korea’s Ambassador Sin Son Ho came late to the UN press area, 20 minutes after Susan Rice of the U.S. and her Japanese and South Korean counterparts had spoken and left.
He sat with Inner City Press, asking where the other reporters were. They had left, but following tweets from InnerCityPress and others, some returned. But there was no UNTV crew, and therefore no sound.

Sin Son Ho sat in the penned in press area, sweating. Inner City Press offered him a fan, one handed out in June at a largely Japanese march from Times Square to the UN. “NO! Nuclear Weapons” were the words on fan. Sin Son Ho declined.
Inner City Press asked him if he has seen the photo exhibit in the UN’s entrance about the De-Militarized Zone. He nodded. “My country very beautiful,” he said. “Very beautiful.”

Why did he come so late to the stakeout, after Ambassadors Rice, Takasu and Park had already spoken. He didn’t want to mixed with them, was the answer.

Other reporters began to arrive. Some wondered how the UN Secretariat could be treating North Korea and its Ambassador this way. The emphasis, however, was on getting him to speak and take questions before he left. Inner City Press plugged the lights in. The microphone stand was tilted.

Finally the UNTV crew arrived, and Sin Son Ho began. He denounced the Security Council, which he said “failed to bring the correct judgment or conclusion to this case.” He said the Peninsula was now at a “trigger point” and could “explode at any moment.”

The first question was in Korean, but Sin Son Ho answered in English. This was, he said, a great diplomatic victory. Inner City Press began asking about his statement, in an earlier press conference, that he would lose his job if the Council took action.
A reporter shouted, “Will North Korea take military action?” Sin Son Ho replied, “Thank you for coming,” and walked away from the microphone.

A swarm of TV camera people, mostly from Japanese media, ran after him and up the stairs. A long time UN Security officer tried to stop the camera people, who surrounded Sin Son Ho as he passed through the turnstile. And then he was gone.

* * *

At UN, Korean Ship Attack But Not Attacker Condemned, Faster Action on Lebanese Rock Throwing.

By Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press.

UNITED NATIONS, July 8 — At the UN Security Council, it’s hurry up and wait. The sinking of the Cheonan ship was suddenly put on the agenda for consultations Thursday afternoon at 4:30. Some media reported that a statement condemning the sinking, and presumably North Korea, would be issued that same afternoon.

But Council sources told the Press that the meeting was only for the purpose of finally distributing the draft Presidential Statement to the other members of the Council, beyond the P-5 Plus Two. At least for appearance’s sake, the pretense of non P-5 agreement must be kept up. Therefore no statement will issue until Friday.

And when it does, it will not squarely blame North Korea-see below “the Security Council condemns the attack which led to the sinking”

Also slated for Friday is a “quick and dirty” press statement in support of France’s peacekeepers, heroically fighting rock throwers in South Lebanon. France has drafted what it wants, and thinks it will get agreement.

Even though UN staff were barricaded into their offices in Sri Lanka by a mob led by a government minister, and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who was burned in effigy, belatedly blamed it on the government, the Security Council has not, and in all probability will not, take up the issue. Until a ship gets sunk. And yet then…. Watch this site.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 3rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

from: www.ft.com/cms/s/0/08d6fc3a-8600-…

we learned the following – “Argentina in Cup dilemma.”

a short article by Jude Webber from Buenos Aires that appeared in the Financial Times (in print) of July 3, 2010.

“”No one in Argentina wants the national team to fail to make the World Cup final – except, perhaps, the planners at the foreign ministry trying to get a visit to China back on track.

Cristina Fernández, the president, abruptly cancelled a trip to Beijing in January at the height of a row over the use of central bank reserves to pay off debt because she did not want to leave her estranged vice-president in charge.


The cancellation of the visit, in which she had been due to meet her counterpart Hu Jintao, went down like a tonne of bricks in Beijing and the ill-feeling was widely seen as contributing to China’s subsequent decision to tighten restrictions on imports of soya oil from Argentina, a key supplier.

Ms. Fernández apologised profusely for the faux-pas and the trip was rescheduled – but officials in this football-mad country must have momentarily taken their eyes off the ball: the visit was rearranged for mid-July.

That seriously complicates the presidential agenda: diplomatic sources expect Ms Fernández to attend the World Cup final on July 11, if Argentina make it. But that would mean she would have to race to China for a meeting now pencilled in for July 13-15, and would potentially miss being homecoming queen in Buenos Aires if Argentina triumph.

Commentators are already speculating that Ms Fernández and Néstor Kirchner, her husband, predecessor and likely presidential candidate in 2011, are dreaming of appearing on the balcony of the presidential palace beside football legend Diego Maradona, the national coach.

If Argentina win their third World Cup, a pragmatic solution is bound to be found, but Mr Kirchner knows first-hand the dangers of putting football over business: he once kept former Hewlett-Packard boss Carly Fiorina waiting because he was engrossed in conversation with Mr Maradona. The computer group reportedly returned the snub by switching key investments to Brazil.

A senior Chinese source in Argentina admits the timing is tricky and the dates “are an issue we are discussing with the foreign ministry”.”

——————

Having seen above article earlier today, that is before watching the Argentina-Germany game, played in Cape Town, on ABC in New York, I clearly thought of the political pickle the Kirchner Argentinian internal politics came up with because of some policy vision confusion. Please, you do not push around China when you want their money – just because of internal dissensions!

THE BEAUTIFUL GAME:

With Germany and Argentina saying NO TO RACISM – on South Africa’s anti-racism day –  the Argentinians in the crowd dancing to their anthem, and just about half of the Germans singing their anthem,  under the watchful eyes of Chancellor Angela Merkel, present to encourage them, the game started very fast – and the first German goal came about after less then 6 minutes.

The non-anthem singing members of the German team had names like Khedira and Boateng, but to my surprise I learned that even the Argentinians had an Ibrahim that was born in France, but clearly must have been of North Africa lineage. Whatever – this is the globalization of the football game that nevertheless is clearly anchored now in West Europe and in the Southern American cone. These games may now come up with a picture that further narrows it to one anchor – and it is Western Europe. But the last words were not said yet. What is clear nevertheless, is that Japan, China, the Koreas, or anyone else of Asia, will still have to practice for years before having an impact on the World Cup and in Europe the football field has lost some of its evenness – France, England, Italy were the early flunkies.

But this article is really about China – and not because it is great in football. They surely have the money to buy players if they wish to do so. We rather believe they will develop a speedy game and enter it with their own people – but who knows? Surely they will not be left out for long. For one thing – Argentina could help by sending to them Diego Maradona and help this as a joint start-up effort. Maradona will not be needed in South Africa beyond today either.

—————–

FT EDITOR’S CHOICE:

—————-

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 25th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

After the completion of the third round we know now that the 16 are made up from 6 Latin American teams, 6 EU teams, two teams from Asia, just one from Africa, and the US.

The six Latin American teams are all five teams of the Southern cone – the ABC and Uruguay and Paraguay, wth the addition of Mexico.

The six EU teams are the two Iberian countries, England, Netherlands, Germany, and Slovakia.

The two Asians are South Korea and Japan.

And then is Ghana, the only African State to make it, and the US. These two teams will meet immediately in the first round of the elimination games – thus making it clear that the upcoming eight eight might not include any African team, or it will miss the US.

The conclusion so far is that when one speaks soccer, the kings are again from the Latin cone and the Iberian Peninsula, with this year the addition of The Netherlands and Germany. The only teams that came out the full amount of 9 points – that is three wins – are The Netherlands and Argentina. The prizes for elimination-with-shame go to France and Italy. North Korea’s participation was a fluke. In their last game they lost to The Ivory Coast at 0:3.

Comparing with our interim article, we seem vindicated by what we wrote about these games and this week-end’s Toronto G-20.

————————-

After the completion of just two rounds of the pre-elimination stage in the World Cap games it is clear that Argentina, Brazil and Chile (the Latin ABC) and The Netherlands, will be among the competing golden 16. But Portugal wins our laurels. They shut out North Korea with a stunning 7:0, while Brazil played them only to a diplomatic 2:1 that allowed North Korea to crow that their Stalinism is succeeding.

On the other hand – it took just two rounds to show it clearly that Europe is in deep crisis.

France is in complete disintegration, England is preoccupied with the BP oilspill and even though they played an equalizer 1:1 with the US but it just does not cover the economic disaster of one of their top corporations and  economically they are sinking together with the US. Soccer-wise they also played an 1:1 game with Nigeria’s oil and may be left out like France from the golden 16. This is shocking indeed in both cases but quite obvious for someone who analyses Europe at large. Personally – for transparency – I have to confess that I did bet on the Nigeria draw and am making some money of the English disaster.

Then Italy and Germany and Spain – they may not make it either. Italy managed just two draws one with our favorite country – New Zealand (that is favorite in general but not in soccer).  Germany, having lost to Serbia is not assured either of a spot among the 16 (For transparency – I was not as bold as thinking they will lose, I only bet on a draw but they ended worse then our prediction).
Spain lost to Switzerland – right there at starting game?

Could anyone imagine a World Cup 16 without France, England, Germany, Italy …?  All of them having their independent seats at Toronto’s G-20 table? Can I say once more that there is not an EU Half-life Crisis – face up to it – it is rather that the rest of the world is moving up and Europe must Unite in order to have future value. This World Cup Chaos is a bellweather! The United Siates might make it into the circle of the 16 – in soccer of all things – because it is now more united then the EU. That is even stranger.

Thanks Portugal – you were the only ones to show there is still life left in Europe.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 11th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

from Jeffrey Laurenti <laurenti@tcf.org>
date Fri, Jun 11, 2010 at 3:25 PM
subject Century Foundation: Obama’s Russia investment recouped in canceled missiles

Investment Recouped in Canceled Missiles

by Jeffrey Laurenti

President Obama’s conservative critics have carped about his Russia “reset,” his moves toward nuclear build-down, his hesitant opening to Iran, and the supposedly insipid sanctions he squeezed out of the Security Council on Iran’s nuclear program this week.  They sneered at his Nobel Peace Prize last fall, saying it was an award for rhetoric since he had produced no results.

Where, they have demanded, is the beef?

Today there is a very big beef delivery from the Moscow policy stockyards, one that will feed speculation in policy circles from Washington to Tehran.  The Russians have canceled the long-planned sale of S-300 missiles to Iran.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929, adopted June 9th, bans the sale of heavy weapons systems to Iran, including “missiles and missile systems.”  While the S-300 missile sale to Iran was a cash cow for Russia’s hard-pressed military industries, President Dmitri Medvedev agreed these sanctions had to bite in order to prompt Iranian officials to recalibrate their nuclear posture.

Despite Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s public bravado, the canceled missiles are not flies he can casually swat away.  Iran has very much wanted a modernized missile defense system to protect its nuclear facilities against possible attack.  It now knows it cannot get them till those nuclear facilities are under strict international supervision and its enrichment of nuclear fuel is checked.

The suspended sale will not immediately change Iran’s nuclear policy.  But it underscores that Iran’s self-isolation on the issue carries costs that are not trivial.  As Tehran begins to absorb this new reality, the United States should seek direct talks with the Iranians on both the nuclear file and the broader range of American-Iranian relations.  The sanctions, of course, are not an end in themselves, but a wake-up call to invigorate the politics of diplomacy.

Medvedev’s collaboration on fencing in Iran’s nuclear program could only happen because Barack Obama’s far-reaching transformation of U.S. foreign policy has cleared away the toxins that years of aggressive unilateralism had built up in America’s international relations.

The symmetry between the suspended missile sale and Obama’s cancellation of the Bush administration’s ill-conceived antimissile system in Poland is not coincidental.

Obama’s patient investment in rebuilding the bilateral relationship with Russia, his administration’s scrupulous respect for international obligations and rejection of double standards, and the president’s embrace of nuclear weapons phaseout have all been crucial to this telling step in reducing nuclear dangers.

The beef is real.  Well done.

———————–

Jeffrey Laurenti
Senior Fellow anD
Director, Foreign Policy Programs
The Century Foundation

41 East 70th StreeT
New York, New York  10021   USA
Tel.:  +1  (212) 535-4441 ext. 339
E-mail:  laurenti@tcf.org
Web:  www.tcf.org

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 5th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Disaster in the Amazon

By BOB HERBERT, New York Times, Op-Ed Columnist.
Published: June 4, 2010

BP’s calamitous behavior in the Gulf of Mexico is the big oil story of the moment. But for many years, indigenous people from a formerly pristine region of the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador have been trying to get relief from an American company, Texaco (which later merged with Chevron), for what has been described as the largest oil-related environmental catastrophe ever.

“As horrible as the gulf spill has been, what happened in the Amazon was worse,” said Jonathan Abady, a New York lawyer who is part of the legal team that is suing Chevron on behalf of the rainforest inhabitants.

It has been a long and ugly legal fight and the outcome is uncertain. But what has happened in the rainforest is heartbreaking, although it has not gotten nearly the coverage that the BP spill has.

What’s not in dispute is that Texaco operated more than 300 oil wells for the better part of three decades in a vast swath of Ecuador’s northern Amazon region, just south of the border with Colombia. Much of that area has been horribly polluted. The lives and culture of the local inhabitants, who fished in the intricate waterways and cultivated the land as their ancestors had done for generations, have been upended in ways that have led to widespread misery.

Texaco came barreling into this delicate ancient landscape in the early 1960s with all the subtlety and grace of an invading army. And when it left in 1992, it left behind, according to the lawsuit, widespread toxic contamination that devastated the livelihoods and traditions of the local people, and took a severe toll on their physical well-being.

A brief filed by the plaintiffs said: “It deliberately dumped many billions of gallons of waste byproduct from oil drilling directly into the rivers and streams of the rainforest covering an area the size of Rhode Island. It gouged more than 900 unlined waste pits out of the jungle floor — pits which to this day leach toxic waste into soils and groundwater. It burned hundreds of millions of cubic feet of gas and waste oil into the atmosphere, poisoning the air and creating ‘black rain’ which inundated the area during tropical thunderstorms.”

The quest for oil is, by its nature, colossally destructive. And the giant oil companies, when left to their own devices, will treat even the most magnificent of nature’s wonders like a sewer. But the riches to be made are so vastly corrupting that governments refuse to impose the kinds of rigid oversight and safeguards that would mitigate the damage to the environment and its human and animal inhabitants.

Pick your venue. The families whose lives and culture are dependent upon the intricate web of waterways along the Gulf Coast of the United States are in a fix similar to that of the indigenous people zapped by nonstop oil spills and the oil-related pollution in the Ecuadorian rainforest. Each group is fearful about its future. Both have been treated contemptuously.

The oil companies don’t care. Shell can’t wait to begin drilling in the Arctic Ocean off the northern coast of Alaska, an area that would pose monumental problems for anyone trying to deal with a catastrophic spill. The companies pretend that the spills won’t happen. They always say that their drilling operations are safe. They said that before drilling off Santa Barbara, and in the rainforest in Ecuador, and in the Gulf of Mexico, and everywhere else they drill.

Their assurances mean nothing.

President Obama has suspended Shell’s Arctic drilling permits and has temporarily halted the so-called Arctic oil rush. What we’ve learned from the BP debacle in the gulf, and from the rainforest, and so many other places, is just how reckless and inept the oil companies can be when it comes to safeguarding life, limb and the environment.

They’re dangerous. They need the most stringent kind of oversight, and swift and severe sanctions for serious wrongdoing. At the same time, we need to be searching with a much, much greater sense of urgency for viable energy alternatives. Treating the Amazon and the gulf and the Arctic as if they were nothing more than toxic waste sites is an affront to the planet and all life-forms that inhabit it.

Chevron doesn’t believe it should be called to account for any of the sins Texaco may have committed in the Amazon. A spokesman told me that the allegations of environmental damage were wildly overstated and that even if Texaco had caused some pollution, it had cleaned it up and reached an agreement with the Ecuadorian government that precluded further liability.

The indigenous residents may be suffering (they’re in much worse shape than the people on the gulf coast) but the Chevron-Texaco crowd feels real good about itself. The big money was made, and the trash was left behind.

 www.nytimes.com/2010/06/05/opinio…

——————–

Curse of the Black Gold

Hope and betrayal on the Niger Delta.

 ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/0…

From Tom O’Neill, February 2007, The National Geographic.
National Geographic staff

Nigeria, 1970s-present — The Delta

Over the decades, aging and ill-maintained pipelines in the Niger Delta of Nigeria have been estimated to spill more than the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a slow-moving disaster (read this article from National Geographic magazine) that local people say is poisoning drinking water and ruining fisheries and farmland.

Oil companies say many spills are caused by insurgents or thieves who cut the pipelines. They say insurgent violence has kept them from doing normal cleanups when spills occur.

— —

At independence in 1960, few observers expected that Nigeria would mature into an oil giant. But in subsequent decades, the oil companies, led by five multinational firms—Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Italy’s Agip, and ExxonMobil and Chevron from the U.S.—transformed a remote, nearly inaccessible wetland into industrial wilderness. The imprint: 4,500 miles (7,200 kilometers) of pipelines, 159 oil fields, and 275 flow stations, their gas flares visible day and night from miles away.

No one can deny the sheer technological achievement of building an infrastructure to extract oil from a waterlogged equatorial forest. Intense swampy heat, nearly impenetrable mangrove thickets, swarming insects, and torrential downpours bedevil operations to this day. But mastering the physical environment has proved almost simple compared with dealing with the social and cultural landscape. The oil firms entered a region splintered by ethnic rivalries. More than two dozen ethnic groups inhabit the delta, among them the Ijaw, the largest group, and the Igbo, Itsekiri, Ogoni, Isoko, and Urhobo. These groups have a history of fighting over the spoils of the delta, from slaves to palm oil—and now, crude oil. The companies disturbed a fragile landscape that supported fishing and farming. Engineers and project managers constructing pipelines through a mangrove swamp, or laying roads through marshland, could disrupt spawning grounds or change the course of a stream, threatening a village’s livelihood.

Recent reports by the United Nations Development Program and the International Crisis Group identify some of the questionable strategies employed by oil companies: paying off village chiefs for drilling rights; building a road or dredging a canal without an adequate environmental impact study; tying up compensation cases—for resource damages or land purchases—for years in court; dispatching security forces to violently break up protests; patching up oil leaks without cleaning up sites.

“After 50 years, the oil companies are still searching for a way to operate successfully with communities,” says Antony Goldman, a London-based risk consultant. The delta is littered with failed projects started by oil companies and government agencies—water tanks without operating pumps, clinics with no medicine, schools with no teachers or books, fishponds with no fish.

“The companies didn’t consult with villagers,” says Michael Watts, director of the African Studies Program at the University of California, Berkeley. “They basically handed out cash to chiefs. It wasn’t effective at all.”

Last summer, skittish oil prices hit $78 a barrel, partly because of an attack on a Shell flow station. The high prices more than offset production losses caused by the growing instability, helping earn Shell and the other multinationals record profits in 2006. Meanwhile, more oil fields continue to open, many of them offshore where the infrastructure, though far more expensive than on land, is much safer from sabotage and theft. The deepwater fields are attracting aggressive new investors as well. China, India, and South Korea, all energy-hungry, have begun buying stakes in Nigeria’s offshore blocks. “Most Western companies in Nigeria will find it difficult to compete, especially with China,” Goldman says. That’s because oil purchases by the Chinese come with their commitment to finance large infrastructure projects, such as rehabilitating a railroad line.

The largest new petroleum endeavor on the delta is taking shape along the Nun River, a tributary of the Niger. Operated by Shell, the Gbaran Integrated Oil and Gas Project, scheduled to begin producing in 2008, will encompass 15 new oil and gas fields, more than 200 miles (320 kilometers) of pipeline, and a sizable gas-gathering plant. New roads are already gashing the forest. Mounds of long black pipes await burial. Near a bank of the Nun, Nigerian soldiers crouch behind a ring of sandbags, a .60-caliber machine gun facing the road as they guard the entrance to the construction site of the gas plant. Cranes and bulldozers crawl over a cleared space large enough to fit two shopping malls. From the air, it must look as if a patch of skin has been removed from the face of the forest.

Activists with human rights groups are pressuring Shell to learn from past mistakes and treat this high-profile project, which affects 90 villages, as a chance to work better with communities. Michael Watts is advising NGOs on how to educate the local people about their rights. “For Shell to conduct business as usual would be a public relations disaster,” Watts says. “Folks say, ‘Look, these oil companies are making billions by taking out this black stuff from our territory—they should have some ethical and social responsibilities.'”

A cautionary tale unfolds at Oloibiri, where a wellhead, or “Christmas tree,” stands in an overgrown plot. Nothing has flowed from it for years. A weathered sign states the facts: “Oloibiri Well No. 1. Drilled June, 1956. Depth: 12,000 feet (3,700 meters).” Nearby, a plaque dating from 2001 commemorates a presidential visit and the laying of a foundation stone for the Oloibiri Oil and Gas Research Institute, a projected government-funded museum and library. The stone is still there, but nothing else. A few local youths guard the site, not so much to protect it as to demand money from anyone who wants to snap a picture.

In the town of Oloibiri, whose population has dropped from 10,000 to fewer than 1,000 in the past 30 years, a dirt road passes between rough-hewn houses, some roofed with thatch, others with sheets of corroding metal. A small shop offers a few bananas and yams. Inside the only freshly painted structure, a lemon yellow, two-story house, Chief Osobere Inengite of the Ijaw tribe apologizes for the appearance of his town: “Oloibiri is supposed to be compared to Texas,” he said. “I ask you, in Texas have the people in 50 years seen one second of darkness? But look here, we have no light, no water, no food, no jobs.”

The chief looked prosperous. He was wearing an ornate black-and-purple robe, a chunky coral necklace, and a black derby, his outfit for a neighboring chief’s coronation downriver in Nembe later that day. Like most chiefs, Inengite has a business—dredging sand from the river for roadbuilding. He always keeps an eye out for visitors to Nigeria’s historic Well No. 1. He wants them to leave Oloibiri with a message for Shell, which owns the local oil fields. “Tell them to help us. Tell them to train 50 boys and girls from here for jobs,” the chief pleaded. Then he sighed, “If we had never seen oil, we would have been better off.”

Where does all the oil money go? That question is asked in every village, town, and city in the Niger Delta. The blame spreads, moving from the oil companies to a bigger, more elusive, target: the Nigerian government. Ever since it nationalized the oil industry in 1971, the government has controlled the energy purse. In a joint venture arrangement, the state, in the name of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, owns 55 to 60 percent of multinational oil operations onshore. The windfall in revenues from this arrangement has grown in real dollars from 250 million a year to more than 60 billion in 2005. During that time, even though the government has evolved from a military dictatorship to a democracy (the latest attempt at civil governance began in 1999), what has not changed is what an International Crisis Group report calls a “cancer of corruption.” A Western diplomat quoted in the report was even more direct, referring to “the institutionalized looting of national wealth.” The money involved is staggering. The head of Nigeria’s anticorruption agency estimated that in 2003, 70 percent of oil revenues, more than 14 billion dollars, was stolen or wasted.

— —

Oil companies operated in the delta for years with little environmental oversight. There was no federal environmental protection agency until 1988, and environmental impact assessments weren’t mandated until 1992. What pressure the government exerts now is directed mostly at halting gas flares. Delta oil fields contain large amounts of natural gas that companies have traditionally elected to burn off rather than store or reinject into the ground, more costly measures. Hundreds of flares have burned nonstop for decades, releasing greenhouse gases and causing acid rain. Communities complain of corroded roofs, crop failures, and respiratory diseases. After first ordering companies to eliminate flaring by 1984, the government keeps pushing back the deadline. Shell, the main offender, recently announced that despite making considerable progress, it could not meet the latest target date of 2008.

On land, there are oil spills, polluting groundwater and ruining cropland. The government documented 6,817 spills between 1976 and 2001—practically one a day for 25 years—but analysts suspect that the real number may be ten times higher. Old, improperly maintained equipment causes many of the leaks, but oil operators blame sabotage and theft, speculating that disaffected community members deliberately cause oil spills to collect compensation money.

— —

Well 13 in Shell’s Yorla field had been leaking for five days when I got there. Members of the nearby Ogoni village of Kpean had assembled around a five-foot-high (1.5 meters) wellhead that stood in the midst of high grass. Puffs of smoke drifted from the iron structure. Oil dripped from its sides into a spreading lake.

“We’re expecting Shell, but no one has come yet,” a villager said. “Soon the oil will leak into the creek over there and spoil our drinking water.”

Shell and Ogoniland share a tragic history. Nigeria’s first mass protest against the oil industry emerged in these tribal lands southeast of Port Harcourt. In 1990, the charismatic writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, outraged by oil spills in Ogoniland, founded the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People. The organization demanded control of the oil on Ogoni lands and an end to environmental damage. A quarter of a million Ogoni, nearly half the population, rallied in early 1993 to support the cause. Later that year, Shell, citing security concerns, halted production from its 96 wells in Ogoniland—though oil from wells outside the area continued to flow in pipelines through Ogoni territory.

Alarmed by Saro-Wiwa’s popular support, Nigeria’s military government brought charges of murder against him and fellow activists. The government accused them of instigating the mob killings of four Ogoni leaders from a rival faction. At a tribunal widely regarded as a sham, and with the alleged complicity of Shell, Saro-Wiwa and eight others were found guilty and hanged in 1995. Though the world community reacted with outrage, and Saro-Wiwa’s son initiated a lawsuit against Shell for human rights abuses (which is ongoing), the situation has not improved. In fact, Isaac Osuoka told me, “things have gotten worse since Ken was murdered.”

— —

No one is sure how many delta people have picked up the gun to fight for their rights. Estimates range from the low hundreds to the low thousands. What is certain is that each time the military reacts with extreme measures, the number rises.

The rebels seem unafraid, as when a hundred or so MEND members and supporters gathered openly at a morgue in the city of Warri for the funeral service of nine militants killed on the water in an ambush by the Nigerian military. Afterward, MEND leaders invited the press to accompany boats taking the caskets to villages for burial. Along the way, men waved guns from jetties, and white flags flew from huts. The men wore conspicuous red-and-white ties knotted around their arms. The ties and flags were symbols of Egbesu, the Ijaw god of war. Warriors wear the knots as protection against death, believing that having taken an oath to Egbesu, nothing metal—neither bullet nor machete—can harm them. Farther on, a rebel camp sat brazenly on a riverbank, the blue roofs of its barracks plainly visible to oil company helicopters.

No solution seems in sight for the Niger Delta. The oil companies are keeping their heads down, desperate to safeguard their employees and the flow of oil. The military, ordered to meet force with force, have stepped up patrols in cities and on waterways. The militants are intensifying a deadly guerrilla offensive, hoping that rising casualties and oil prices will force the government to negotiate. National elections in April could exacerbate the violence, especially if politicians resort to the practice of hiring youth gangs to deliver votes at gunpoint.

Optimism is as scarce as blue sky in the sodden delta. “Everyone was sure they would be blessed with the coming of the black gold and live as well as people in other parts of the world,” said Patrick Amaopusanibo, a retired businessman who now farms near the village of Oloama. He had to speak loudly to compete with the “black noise,” the hissing and roaring of a gas flare near his cassava field. “But we have nothing. I feel cheated.”

In some parts of the Niger Delta, oil still looks like a miracle. In the run-down fishing village of Oweikorogba on the Nun River, where families of ten sleep in a single room under leaky thatch roofs, hope materialized a year ago in the form of Chinese prospectors. They left without finding oil, but the people of Oweikorogba want them back, confident that they’ll find a pot of gold. And if a stranger warns these villagers that oil is a curse in Nigeria, they will look at him and say: “We want oil here. It will make everything better.”

———————————

Russia, 1970s-present — The Arctic

Like Nigeria, the former Soviet Union has a system of aging and ill-maintained oil pipelines and other facilities inherited from the former Soviet Union.

One incident in 1994 spilled more than 2 million barrels of oil onto the tundra in the Komi region of north Russia. The spilled oil was contained by a dike that later collapsed, allowing oil to flow into nearby rivers.

Russia’s state-owned oil company claimed the spill was far smaller than reported by the Western media, and said it was cleaned up. Greenpeace called the environmental damage “irreparable.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 17th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

nbsp;www.aolnews.com/story/iran-to-shi…

Iran to ship uranium to Turkey in nuclear deal.
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, AP, May 17, 2010

TEHRAN, Iran -Iran agreed Monday to ship most of its enriched uranium to Turkey in a nuclear fuel swap deal that could ease the international standoff over the country’s disputed nuclear program and deflate a U.S.-led push for tougher sanctions.
The deal was reached in talks with Brazil and Turkey, elevating a new group of mediators for the first time in the dispute over Iran’s nuclear activities. The agreement was nearly identical to a U.N.-drafted plan that Washington and its allies have been pressing Tehran for the past six months to accept in order to deprive Iran — at least temporarily — of enough stocks of enriched uranium to produce a nuclear weapon.
The United States had no immediate comment, but Germany greeted the news with caution.
The key question is whether the agreement fulfills the demands that the U.N. and the International Atomic Energy Agency has made of Tehran, German government spokesman Christoph Steegmans said.
Steegmans noted that the point remains whether Iran suspends enrichment of nuclear material at home, raising a possible sticking point since the agreement reaffirmed Tehran’s right to enrichment activities for peaceful purposes.
The heart of the deal is a swap in which Iran would send abroad most of its low-enriched uranium and in return received fuel rods of medium-enriched uranium to use in a Tehran medical research reactor that produces isotopes for cancer treatment.
But for months, Iran has haggled over the terms, making counterproposals that were repeatedly rejected by the U.S. and its allies. With the deal announced Monday, Tehran seems to have agreed to almost all of the original terms. However, making the deal with Turkey and Brazil may have been more palatable, allowing Iran to argue that it did not bend to American pressure.
“It was agreed during the trilateral meeting of Iranian, Turkish and Brazilian leaders that Turkey will be the venue for swapping” Iran’s stocks of enriched uranium for fuel rods, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said on state TV.
Washington has cited the Iranians’ intransigence against the original deal as proof of the need for new U.N. sanctions.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the new deal meant Iran was willing to “open a constructive road.”
“There is no ground left for more sanctions or pressure,” he told reporters in Iran, according to Turkey’s private NTV television.
Monday’s deal was announced after talks between Brazil’s president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran.
The main difference from the U.N.-drafted version is that if Iran does not receive the fuel rods within a year, Turkey will be required to “immediately and unconditionally” return the uranium to Iran.
Iran feared that under the initial U.N. deal, if a swap fell through, its uranium stock could be seized permanently.
The process would begin one month after a final agreement is signed between Iran and its main negotiating partners, including the United States and the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Iran dropped an earlier demand for the fuel exchange to happen in stages and is now willing to ship abroad its nuclear material in a single batch. It also dropped an insistence that the exchange happen inside Iran as well as a request to receive the fuel rods right away.
The U.N. draft has a gap of about a year to allow time for the rods to be manufactured in France.
While kept under international supervision in Turkey, the uranium would still be considered Iranian property until Iran receives the fuel rods, said Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.
Iranian Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi, who is also the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, called Monday’s deal historic.
The United Nations has already imposed three rounds of financial sanctions on Iran for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. The process is key to concerns over its program, because it can produce either low-enriched uranium needed to fuel a nuclear reactor or the highly enriched uranium needed to build a warhead. Iran says its program is entirely peaceful and says it has a right to enrich uranium for reactor fuel.
The fuel swap deal on the table since October was touted as a way to reduce tensions and ensure Iran cannot build a bomb in the short term. The material returned to Iran in the form of fuel rods cannot be processed beyond its lower, safer levels. Iran needs the fuel rods to power an aging medical research reactor in Tehran that produces isotopes for cancer treatment.
Under the agreement announced Monday, Iran will ship most of its enriched uranium — about 2,600 pounds, or 1,200 kilograms — to Turkey to be kept under U.N. and Iranian supervision. In return, it will get fuel rods containing uranium enriched to higher levels needed for the research reactor, Mehmanparast said.
Iran first reached out to Turkey and Brazil in its efforts to avoid tougher U.N. sanctions for its refusal to stop enriching uranium altogether. Both countries are non-permanent members of the Security Council.
Monday’s deal was signed by the foreign ministers of the three countries.
Iran says its enrichment program is only for peaceful uses, such as producing fuel for nuclear power plants.
Mehmanparast said a letter will be sent to the IAEA within a week to pave the way for a final agreement.
“Should they be ready, an agreement will be signed between us and the group,” he said, referring to the U.S., France, Russia and the IAEA.
A month later, the uranium — currently enriched to a level of 3.5 percent — would be sent to Turkey, where it would be stored under IAEA and Iranian supervision, Mehmanparast said. The fuel rods would contain material processed to just under 20 percent.
Enrichment of 90 percent is needed to produce material for nuclear warheads.

Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser contributed to this report from Ankara, Turkey.

Online:
The agreement —
 www.mfa.gov.tr/17-mayis-2010-tari…

———————————–

Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Iran Creates Illusion of Progress in Nuclear Negotiations – Glenn Kessler
    By striking a deal to ship some of its low-enriched uranium abroad, Iran has created the illusion of progress in nuclear negotiations with the West, without offering any real compromise. (Washington Post)
    See also A Sham Deal with Iran – Bronwen Maddox
    Brazil and Turkey claim to have pulled off a triumph in persuading Iran to freeze the heart of its nuclear program. But this is almost certainly a sham deal – and one that, dangerously, will undermine the drive to bring new sanctions against Tehran. (Times-UK)
  • Changing the Paradigm of U.S. Assistance to Egypt: Alternatives to the “Endowment” Idea – J. Scott Carpenter
    Recently leaked documents detail an exchange between Washington and Cairo regarding the future of U.S. economic assistance to Egypt, indicating that the Obama administration has welcomed Cairo’s idea of ending traditional assistance in favor of creating a new endowment, “The Egyptian-American Friendship Foundation.” This idea has a long, checkered history and, if implemented, will be bad for both American taxpayers and the Egyptian people. The administration should work with Egypt to craft alternatives that advance common objectives, including democratic reform. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

————————————

Observations:

Iran Maneuvers to Delay Sanctions – Ronen Bergman (Ynet News)

  • The agreement between Tehran and Ankara is a nice achievement for the Iranians that will somewhat delay the international sanctions against them and provide an alibi for the Russians and Chinese to maintain excellent economic ties with Tehran.
  • Every time Iran feels that it’s approaching the point of no return in respect to Security Council or EU decisions on sanctions, it comes up with a “new initiative” and announces that it will in fact accept the international community’s conditions. Yet when it actually needs to sign an agreement, it presents new conditions.
  • The Iranians agreed and reneged on this kind of arrangement eight times. Indeed, this is just part of the ongoing ritual of Iranian maneuvers aimed at buying time in order to get as close as possible to the bomb.

Iran’s Nuclear Coup – Editorial (Wall Street Journal)

  • Iran said it would send 1,200 kg. of low-enriched uranium to Turkey within a month, and no more than a year later get back 120 kg. enriched from somewhere else abroad. This makes even less sense than the flawed October deal. In the intervening seven months, Iran has kicked its enrichment activities into higher gear. Its estimated total stock has gone to 2,300 kg. from 1,500 kg. last autumn, and its stated enrichment goal has gone to 20% from 3.5%.
  • If the West accepts this deal, Iran would be allowed to keep enriching uranium in contravention of previous UN resolutions. Removing 1,200 kg. will leave Iran with still enough low-enriched stock to make a bomb, and once uranium is enriched up to 20% it is technically easier to get to bomb-capable enrichment levels.
  • Only last week, diplomats at the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran has increased the number of centrifuges it is using to enrich uranium. According to Western intelligence estimates, Iran continues to acquire key nuclear components, such as trigger mechanisms for bombs. Tehran says it wants to build additional uranium enrichment plants. The CIA recently reported that Iran tripled its stockpile of uranium last year and moved “toward self-sufficiency in the production of nuclear missiles.” Monday’s deal will have no impact on these illicit activities.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 5th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Uri Avnery

3.4.10


“Hold Me Back!”

“HOLD ME back!” is a part of Israeli folklore. It reminds us of our childhood.

When a boy has a scuffle with a bigger and stronger boy, he pretends that he is going to attack him any moment and shouts to the spectators: “Hold me back, or I am going to kill him!”

Israel is now in such a situation. We pretend that we are going to attack Iran at any moment and shout to the entire world: “Hold us back or…”

And the world does indeed hold us back.

IT IS dangerous to prophesy in such matters, especially when we are dealing with people not all of whom are wise and not all of whom are sane. Yet I am ready to maintain: there is no possibility whatsoever that the government of Israel will send the air force to attack Iran.

I am not going to enter into military matters. Is our air force really capable of executing such an operation? Are circumstances similar to those that prevailed 28 years ago, when the Iraqi reactor was successfully destroyed? Is it at all possible for us to eliminate the Iranian nuclear effort, whose installations are dispersed throughout the large country and buried far below the surface?

I want to focus on another aspect: is it politically feasible? What would be the consequences?

FIRST OF ALL, a basic rule of Israeli reality: the State of Israel cannot start any large-scale military operation without American consent.

Israel depends on the US in almost every respect, but in no sphere is it more dependent than in the military one.

The aircraft that must execute the mission were supplied to us by the US. Their efficacy depends on a steady flow of American spare parts. At that range, refueling from US-built tanker aircraft would be necessary.

The same is true for almost all other war material of our army, as well as for the money needed for their acquisition. Everything comes from America.

In 1956, Israel went to war without American consent. Ben-Gurion thought that his collusion with the UK and France was enough. He was vastly mistaken. One hundred hours after telling us that the “Third Kingdom of Israel” had come into being, he announced with a broken voice that he was going to evacuate all the territories just conquered. President Dwight Eisenhower, together with his Soviet colleague, had submitted an ultimatum, and that was the end of the adventure.

Since then, Israel has not started a single war without securing the agreement of Washington. On the eve of the Six-day War, a special emissary was sent to the US to make sure that there was indeed American agreement. When he returned with an affirmative answer, the order for the attack was issued.

On the eve of Lebanon War I, Defense Minister Ariel Sharon rushed to Washington to obtain American consent. He met with Secretary of State Alexander Haig, who agreed – but only on condition that there would be a clear provocation. A few days later there just happened to be an attempt on the life of the Israeli ambassador in London, and the war was on.

The Israeli army’s offensives against Hezbollah (“Lebanon War II”) and Hamas (“Cast Lead”) were possible because they were cast as part of the American campaign against “Radical Islam”.

Ostensibly, that is also true for an attack on Iran. But no.

BECAUSE AN Israeli attack on Iran would cause a military, political and economic disaster for the United States of America.

Since the Iranians, too, realize that Israel could not attack without American consent, they would react accordingly.

As I have written here before, a cursory glance at the map suffices to indicate what would be the immediate reaction. The narrow Hormuz Strait at the entrance of the Persian (or Arabian) Gulf, through which a huge part of the world’s oil flows, would be sealed at once. The results would shake the international economy, from the US and Europe to China and Japan. Prices would soar to the skies. The countries that had just begun to recover from the world economic crisis would sink to the depths of misery and unemployment, riots and bankruptcies.

The Strait could be opened only by a military operation on the ground. The US simply has no troops to spare for this – even if the American public were ready for another war, one much more difficult than even those of Iraq and Afghanistan. It is even doubtful whether the US could help Israel to defend itself against the inevitable counter-stroke by Iranian missiles.

The Israeli attack on a central Islamic country would unite the entire Islamic world, including the entire Arab world. The US, which has spent the last few years laboring mightily to form a coalition of “moderate” Arab states (meaning: countries governed by dictators kept by the US) against the “radical” states. This pack would immediately become unstuck. No Arab leader would be able to stand aside while the masses of his people were gathering in tumultuous demonstrations in the squares.

All this is clear to any knowledgeable person, and even more so to the American military and civilian leaders. Secretaries, generals and admirals have been sent to Israel to make this clear to our leaders in a language that even kindergarten kids can understand: No! Lo! La! Nyet!

IF SO, why has the military option not been removed from the table?

Because the US and Israel like it lying there.

The US likes to pose as if it can hardly hold back the ferocious Israeli Rottweiler on its leash. This puts pressure on the other powers to agree to the imposition of sanctions on Iran. If you don’t agree, the murderous dog could leap out of control. Think about the consequences!

What sanctions? For some time now, this terrifying word – “sanctions” – has been bedeviling everybody on the international stage. They are going to be imposed “within weeks”. But when one inquires what it is all about, one realizes that there is a lot of smoke and very little fire. Some commanders of the Revolutionary Guards may be hurt, some marginal damage inflicted on the Iranian economy. The “paralyzing sanctions” have disappeared, because there was no chance that Russia and China would agree. Both do very good business with Iran.

Also, there is very little chance that these sanctions would stop the production of the bomb, or even slow it down. From the point of view of the Ayatollahs, this effort is the prime imperative of national defense – only a country with nuclear arms is immune from American attack. Faced with the repeated threats by American spokesmen to overthrow their regime, no Iranian government could act differently. The more so since during the last century, the Americans and the British have repeatedly done exactly that. Iranian denials are perfunctory. According to all reports, even the most extreme Iranian opponents of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad support the acquisition of the bomb and would rally behind him if attacked.

In this respect, the Israeli leadership is right: nothing will stop Iran’s endeavor to obtain a nuclear bomb except the massive employment of military power. The “sanctions” are childish games. The American administration is talking about them in glowing terms in order to cover up the fact that even mighty America is unable to stop the Iranian bomb.

WHEN NETANYAHU & Co. criticize the inability of the American leaders to act against Iran, they answer in the same coin: you, too, are not serious.

And indeed, how serious are our leaders about this? They have convinced the Israeli public that it is a matter of life and death. Iran is led by a madman, a new Hitler, a sick anti-Semite, an obsessive Holocaust-denier. If he got his hands on a nuclear bomb, he would not hesitate for a moment to drop it on Tel Aviv and Dimona. With this sword hanging over our heads, this is no time for trivial matters, such as the Palestinian problem and the occupation. Everyone who raises the Palestinian question in a meeting with our leaders is immediately interrupted: Forget this nonsense, let’s talk about the Iranian bomb!!

But Obama and his people turn the argument around: if this is an existential danger, they say, please draw the conclusions. If this matter endangers the very existence of Israel, sacrifice the West Bank settlements on this altar. Accept the Arab League peace offer, make peace with the Palestinians as quickly as possible. That will ease our situation in Iraq and Afghanistan and free our forces. Also, Iran would have no more pretext for war with Israel. The masses of the Arab world would not support it anymore.

And the conclusion: If a new Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem is more important to you than the Iranian bomb, the matter is clearly not really so critical for you. And that, with all due modesty, is my opinion, too.

THE DAY before yesterday a correspondent of Israel’s popular Channel 2 called me and asked, in a shocked voice: “Is it true that you have given an interview to the Iranian news agency?

“That’s true,” I told her. The agency mailed me some questions about the political situation, and I answered.

“Why did you do this?” she asked/accused.

“Why not?” I replied. That was the end of the conversation.

And indeed, why not? True, Ahmadinejad is a repulsive leader. I hope that the Iranians will get rid of him, and assume that this will happen sooner or later. But our relations with Iran do not depend on one single person, whoever he may be. They go back to ancient times and were always friendly – from the time of Cyrus until the time of Khomeini (whom we provided with arms to fight the Iraqis.)

In Israel, the portrayal of Iran nowadays is a caricature: a primitive, crazy country, with nothing on its mind but the destruction of the Zionist state. But it suffices to read a few good books about Iran (I would recommend William Polk’s “Understanding Iran”) which describe one of the oldest civilized countries in the world, which has given birth to several great empires and made a remarkable contribution to human culture. It has an old and proud tradition. Some scholars believe that the Jewish religion was profoundly influenced by the ethical teachings of Zoroaster (Zarathustra).

Whatever the rantings of Ahmadinejad, the real rulers of the country, the clerics, conduct a cautious and sober policy, and have never attacked another country. They have many important interests, and Israel is not among them. The idea that they would sacrifice their own glorious homeland in order to destroy Israel is ludicrous.

The simple truth is that there is no way to prevent the Iranians from acquiring a nuclear bomb. Better to think seriously about the situation that would be created: a balance of terror like the one between India and Pakistan, the elevation of Iran to the rank of a regional power, the need to start a sober dialogue with it.

But the main conclusion is: to make peace with the Palestinian people and the entire Arab world, in order to draw the rug from under any Iranian posture of defending them from us.

————–

We wonder if another conclusion would not also be – push on North Korea so the world realizes that even several nuclear bombs do not bring safety to a rogue regime. It was the failure on North Korea that gave us Ahmedi-Nejad. Even China and Russia understand that.

————-

And the push that is authored by the Turkish head of OIC – as per the following we see that it is the building of Synagogues on what the Muslims think of as Islamic territory –  not just Palestinian. It is Judaization they stand up against – the Palestinians are  incidental sufferers. That is what caused the 1948 war and all that followed. What about Christian Palestinians? Those are clearly further complications that call for Arab States guarantees for end of hostilities in name of religion.

from the Organization of the Islamic Conference Newsletter 13 (April 3, 2010):

Ihsanoglu cautions on the dangerous situation in Al-Quds
The Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu has stressed that the City of Al Quds is going through difficult times, threatened by an imminent danger, the first of its kind since the 11th century war of the crusades.

Speaking at the twenty-second session of the Arab Summit, held in Sirte, Libya on 27 March 2010, the Secretary General added that a full-blown Judaization process is on in Al Quds. This takes the form of synagogue construction, expulsion of Arab and Muslim populations from the City, and the destruction of its historical and cultural identity. What Israel is doing is flagrant violation of international law and international humanitarian law, said the Secretary General.

Ihsanoglu warned that this violation could trigger strong waves of disturbances and violence across the world. In the face of this situation, the Secretary General announced that he had addressed communication to international officials concerning Al Quds, drawing their attention to the implications of Israeli practices.

Ihsanoglu underscored the importance of huge financial support for the vital sectors of the City and the need to counter the inflow into Israel of Jewish funds used for the construction of settlements and confiscation of unoccupied lands with a view to Judaizing them.

The Secretary General also announced that the OIC has taken initiatives to mitigate the suffering of the Gaza people following the heinous Israeli aggression of the City. In this regard, he reviewed the efforts made by the OIC in coordination with the OIC Ambassadorial Group in Geneva to dispatch a fact-finding mission to Gaza and the subsequent release of the Goldstone report.

The Secretary General concluded his statement with a reference to the efforts the OIC is making to address the situations in Iraq, Somalia and Sudan. In this regard he recalled the international donors’ conference on the development and reconstruction of Darfur recently convened by the OIC in Cairo.

OIC Secretary General welcomes HRC Resolution on Palestine, urges full and immediate implementation

The OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu commended the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for adopting on 26 March 2010 during its 13th Session in Geneva, a new resolution on Palestine, under the sponsorship of the OIC and the League of Arab States, which requested Israel to pay reparations to the Palestinians for the losses and damages that they suffered during the Israeli military offensive into the Gaza strip in January 2009.

Significantly, this Resolution calls for the High Commissioner for Human Rights to explore and determine the appropriate modalities for the establishment of an escrow fund for the provision of reparations to the Palestinians who suffered loss and damage as a result of unlawful acts of Israel during the military operations conducted from December 2008 to January 2009.

The OIC Secretary General has also welcomed the adoption of another resolution by the UN Human Rights Council condemning Israel’s continued construction of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem. The resolution which was sponsored by the OIC and the League of Arab States, reaffirmed that the expansion of the Israeli settlements was not only in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant United Nations resolutions, but also undermined the efforts of the international community to advance the Middle East peace process.

The Secretary General called for full and immediate implementation of the resolutions, affirming that it will bring hope to the Palestinian people and push forward the efforts of the international community to advance the Middle East peace process.

East Jerusalem is an integral part of the Palestinian Territory Occupied in 1967

OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu rejected Netanyahu’s recent statement on Al Quds Al Shareef (Jerusalem). The Secretary General reaffirmed that East Jerusalem is an integral part of the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967, that the settlements built on Palestinian lands are illegal and constitute a flagrant violation of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Ihsanoglu also strongly condemned the decision of the Israeli government to build new settlement units in the centre of Sheikh Jarah District in East Jerusalem. The Secretary General called on the Quartet and the international community to compel Israel to stop all forms of settlement activities and violations aimed at isolating the City and changing the Arab and Islamic character of Al Quds Al Shareef.

—————————————–

MONDAY, APRIL 05, 2010
 ipsterraviva.net/UN/currentNew.as…

Jim Lobe’s blog on U.S. foreign policy can be read at   www.ips.org/blog/jimlobe/.

Obama Sanctions Strategy on Iran Complicated by Congress.
Analysis by Jim Lobe, on Terra Viva of IPS

WASHINGTON, Apr 4 (IPS) – President Barack Obama is hoping that
relatively quick approval by the U.N. Security Council of a new round
of sanctions against Iran will relieve growing pressure on Capitol
Hill to take stronger measures against Tehran. But those hopes are
likely to be disappointed after lawmakers return from their Easter
recess in two weeks when the powerful “Israel Lobby” is expected to
make a major push for the imposition of tough unilateral sanctions
which both houses of Congress approved earlier this year.

The lobby’s efforts to build momentum behind the sanctions push at
last week’s annual conference of its most influential organisation,
the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), were largely
derailed as a result of the still-unresolved contretemps over U.S.
demands that visiting Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu freeze
new settlement construction in Arab East Jerusalem.

Instead of focusing public and Congressional attention on the
“existential” dangers posed by a nuclear Iran as had been planned, the
conference was consumed instead by what many analysts called the worst
crisis in U.S.-Israeli relations in at least two decades. But even
before the conference closed, the lobby’s more-hawkish constituents –
particularly pro-Likud neo-conservatives – raised the volume on their
demands that Washington take much stronger unilateral action against
Tehran, of which the adoption of the toughest possible sanctions was
to be the bare minimum.

“To begin, senior administration officials should stop downplaying the
viability of a U.S. or Israeli military strike on Iranian nuclear
facilities,” wrote Michael Makovsky, foreign policy director of the
Bipartisan Policy Centre (BPC) who worked for Pentagon chief Donald
Rumsfeld during George W. Bush’s first term, in the San Francisco
Chronicle.

Washington should also “beef up (the) U.S. naval presence” in the Gulf
and, “(i)f necessary, the U.S. Navy could then blockade Iran to
enforce sanctions on gasoline imports passed by both houses of
Congress,” he urged.

Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, citing Obama’s repeated
declarations that a nuclear Iran was “unacceptable” to the U.S.,
compared the president’s current alleged passivity to the failure of
France and Britain to stop the Nazis from occupying the Rhineland in
1936.

In fact, the administration appears to have made progress in rallying
international support behind a new round of sanctions against Iran
since the first of the year, the time set by Obama last May for moving
towards sanctions if Iran failed to respond positively to U.S.
conditions, especially those related to Tehran’s nuclear programme,
for improved relations.

In a press briefing with visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy
Tuesday, Obama expressed hope that a new Security Council sanctions
regime “would (be) in place in weeks,” rather than months, although he
admitted Washington did not yet have “unanimity” among key members.

In what they depicted as a breakthrough, however, U.S. officials
disclosed that China, considered the main obstacle to new U.N.
sanctions, had agreed for the first time to consider specific measures
during a conference call with senior foreign ministry officials from
the so-called P5+1 countries – the five permanent Council members,
including the U.S. and China, plus Germany – Wednesday morning.

U.S. and other western diplomats are also pressing hard on two
non-veto-wielding Council members, Turkey and Brazil, both of which
have publicly questioned the usefulness of sanctions, to at least
abstain on any final vote.

The administration believes that such a demonstration of unity in the
Security Council could well succeed in persuading Tehran to reconsider
its refusal until now to accept previous P5+1’s proposals for curbing
its nuclear programme. If not, it would set the stage for even tougher
multilateral action later this year.

Key Congressional leaders, including Democrats, however, are not as
optimistic. Some believe that whatever measures are eventually
approved by the Security Council, they will fall far short of the
“crippling sanctions” that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised
last year and that, in their view, would be essential to force a
reassessment in Tehran.

Indeed, in its efforts to rally support for a new sanctions regime,
Washington reportedly dropped several key provisions from a draft
resolution circulated in March, including sanctions that would deny
Iran access to international banking services, capital markets and to
international airspace and waters for its commercial trade.

In order to gain the widest possible consensus, the resolution is
expected to be watered down further before it comes to a vote, which
the administration hopes could come as early as this month but could
well be delayed until June.

And while the administration has argued for patience in carrying out
its strategy of increased multilateral pressure on Iran over the
course of the year, many lawmakers want to be seen as doing something,
particularly with the approach of the mid-term elections in November
when all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and one-third of
the Senate will be up for grabs.

Republicans, whose views on the Middle East are largely shaped by
their pro-Likud neo-conservatives and Christian Zionist
constituencies, are pressing for the strongest possible sanctions.

Democrats are torn between their loyalty to Obama on the one hand and
their political need for support of Jewish voters and donors – who are
widely, if increasingly mistakenly, perceived as backing Netanyahu –
on the other.

Jewish donors, some of whom are reportedly deeply concerned by the
recent contretemps between Obama and the Israeli leader, are believed
to make up between 25 and 50 percent of the Democratic Party’s major
contributors, according to the “Hill” newspaper.

Both houses have passed legislation that would sanction companies of
third countries that do business with Iran, particularly in the energy
and telecommunications sectors. The two bills must now be reconciled
by a “conference committee”, which is likely to meet very soon after
the recess ends, before they can be sent to Obama for signature into
law.

The administration is arguing that imposing unilateral sanctions
before the Council acts would threaten the multilateral consensus it
is building with its European partners to get a strong U.N.
resolution.

“We want to make sure we don’t send wrong messages before we get
everyone signed up on what we can achieve internationally,” Clinton
warned lawmakers recently.

The administration has also argued that Obama should be given the
authority to exempt from punishment any companies from other nations,
such as China, that he deems are cooperating with Washington’s Iran
policy – a position that has been harshly criticised by Republicans
and some Democrats close to AIPAC.

Moreover, according to the administration, sweeping sanctions of the
kind included in the two house bills – as opposed to more-targeted
measures aimed at key figures and institutions in the regime, notably
the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – could weaken the
still-feisty opposition Green Movement.

If the Council approves new sanctions this month, according to some
Congressional staff, Democrats will be more inclined to rally behind
the administration’s appeal for patience. But if U.N. action appears
unlikely before June, Congress is much more likely to force the issue.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 27th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010, Kyodo News of Japan:

Six-party talks up to North: Bosworth.

U.S. special envoy to North Korea Stephen Bosworth said Saturday in Tokyo he hopes to see “fairly soon” the resumption of the stalled six-party talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear programs, but added whether that is realized depends on the North.

“Five of the six parties are prepared to move very quickly. And we would hope that the sixth, that is to say the DPRK, will also decide to move ahead very quickly,” Bosworth told reporters, referring to North Korea by its official name of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

But the U.S. point man for North Korea policy also said, “In the end, of course, the decision as to whether they are going to come back and when, it is up to the DPRK.”

While admitting that there is no agreement yet on when to resume the multilateral talks involving North and South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States, Bosworth said, “I hope that, in the not too distant future, but fairly soon, we will see a resumption of the talks.”

=====================

UN-North Korea talks hint at a peace treaty on the Korean Peninsula
Source: Global Times ,  February 21 2010
By Ronda Hauben also of www.taz.de/blogs/netizenblog

This June 25 marks the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War in 1950. Only an armistice and a temporary agreement, not a peace treaty, are in place to help prevent a renewed outbreak of hostilities.

A four-person delegation from the office of the UN Secretary-General which included B. Lynn Pascoe and Kim Won-soo recently returned to the UN after their visit to North Korea, between February 9 and 12, 2010.

This was the first delegation to establish official relations between North Korea and the UN Secretariat since Maurice Strong acted as an envoy of Kofi Annan to North Korea in 2004.

At the press conference at the UN, held on the return of the UN delegation, only minimal information was provided about the issues that North Korea raised.

In his brief presentation, Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, mentioned some of the issues discussed, including a statement that there had been back-and-forth talks about a peace treaty.

Pascoe said, however, that he was not going to get into details. A little later in the press conference, a question was asked about what issues North Korea had brought up. Pascoe’s response included that North Korea did talk about a peace treaty and why they saw it as an important way to build trust.

Much of the press conference, focused on questions about North Korea returning to the Six-Party Talks.

A purpose of the UN secretariat trip was to convey messages from other parties of the Six-Party Talks to North Korea, and to convey the Secretary- General’s view that talks need to begin without preconditions.

At the end of WWII, Korea was artificially divided into two separate entities: the Republic of Korea in the south, or South Korea, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the north, or North Korea. This division was initially regarded as temporary. Instead, it was maintained and reinforced by various actions of the UN. Then during the Korean War, the United Nations flag and name were used.

North Korea sees the need for a peace treaty to help calm the tension that exists because currently there is only the temporary armistice agreement.

North Korea proposes that three parties to the armistice, the US (for the UN command), North Korea, and China (the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army) to negotiate for the peace treaty. It also proposes to include South Korea.

This is proposed as the means to build confidence among these four parties so as to be able to return to the Six- Party Talks with experience to make possible reaching an agreement on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The actual denuclearization will be a task that will involve both North Korea giving up its nuclear weapon capability and South Korea giving up the protection that the US offers it by including it under the US’s nuclear umbrella.

The press conference at the UN, however, didn’t discuss the issue of the peace treaty or the need to consider the denuclearization of both nations on the Korean Peninsula.

Instead, the majority of questions concerned whether North Korea would return to the Six-Party Talks.

North Korea has criticized the talks as not helpful to solving the disputes that continue to breed hostility in the region. Recent talks have focused on removing the nuclear capability of North Korea, rather than similarly considering North Korea’s claim that it needs its nuclear capability as a security measure as long as hostile actions continue by other members of the Six-Party process.

In previous talks between North Korea and the US, one of the negotiators explained the most difficult part of the negotiations was determining how to phrase the issue of the talks so that it recognized the interests of different parties to the controversy. He said that North Korea made the reasonable request that the issue be phrased in a way satisfactory to both North Korea and the US.

One would expect a similar problem will need to be solved to facilitate discussion among the parties to the Six-Party Talks, or to facilitate negotiations toward a peace treaty to end the Korean War.

After the press conference, Kim Won-soo, Deputy Chef de Cabinet of the UN, said the dispute over how to get back to negotiations could be seen as a difference over what sequencing was acceptable.

What order of actions would the parties agree to with regard to discussing a peace treaty, ending the UN sanctions, or returning to the Six-Party Talks process, could be considered an issue to be discussed, rather than phrasing the problem in terms favorable to one side or the other. This is the basis for further discussion and negotiation among North Korea and the other countries.

The UN is technically still at war with North Korea. These current developments raise the question of whether Ban Ki-moon is willing to use the good offices of his position as Secretary-General to offer what help he can to facilitate a peace treaty to end the Korean War.

Even this first step of an official visit by the four-member UN Secretariat delegation and the mere mention that the North Korea referred to the desire for a peace treaty can be seen as a step forward.

The Secretary-General is endeavoring to help solve the stalemate among the parties regarding the continuing tension on the Korean Peninsula.

————–
The author is an award-winning US journalist covering the United Nations.  netizenblog at gmail.com

 opinion.globaltimes.cn/commentary…

————–

Global Times appears in English and originates from Beijing.

Contact the Global Times (GT) newspaper:
Add.  7/F Topnew Tower, 15 Guanghua Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, CHINA PC:100026
Tel.+86-10-52937565
Fax.+86-10-52937584
Email:  editor at globaltimes.com.cn

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 24th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Mongolia is an unassuming country, sandwiched in between Russia and China and has sworn to stay nuclear free and made known it is no danger to anyone. This is Mongolia’s highest contribution to its region and it could be an example to North Korea when that State decides to attempt change. Mongolia can smooth the way to the six parties talks.

Mongolia is the 19th largest and the most sparsely populated independent country in the world, with a population of about three million people. It is also the world’s second-largest landlocked country after Kazakhstan. The country contains very little arable land, as much of its area is covered by steppes, with mountains to the north and west, and the Gobi Desert to the south. Approximately 30% of the population are nomadic or semi-nomadic. The predominant religion in Mongolia is Tibetan Buddhism, and the majority of the state’s citizens are of the Mongol ethnicity, though Kazakhs, Tuvans, and other minorities also live in the country, especially in the west. About 20% of the population live on less than US$1.25 per day. Global warming has had a serious impact on Mongolia and its land became even drier with very active further desertification; but Mongolia is rich in minerals and exporting minerals such as Coal, Uranium, Lithium, Copper, Molybdenum, Tin, Tungsten, Gold and oil provide it with cash flow. Companies and Financing from China, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Russia, Canada are active in Mongolia.

In Mongolia during the 1920s, approximately one third of the male population were monks. By the beginning of the 20th century about 750 monasteries were functioning in Mongolia. The Stalinist purges in Mongolia beginning in 1937, affected the Republic as it left more than 30,000 people dead. Japanese imperialism became even more alarming after the invasion of neighboring Manchuria in 1931. The Soviet threat of seizing parts of Inner Mongolia induced China to recognize Outer Mongolia’s independence. So – the mutual distrust between China and the Soviets allowed for an independent Mongolia.

The introduction of perestroika and glasnost in the USSR by Mikhail Gorbachev strongly influenced Mongolian politics leading to the peaceful Democratic Revolution, and the introduction of a multi-party system and market economy. A new constitution was introduced in 1992, and the “People’s Republic” was dropped from the country’s name. The transition to market economy was often rocky, the early 1990s saw high inflation and food shortages. The first election wins for non-communist parties came in 1993 (presidential elections) and 1996 (parliamentary elections). So, Mongolia, an ex-communist country moved to a market economy.

The evolution of Mongolia is now of special interest to those that would like to see movement in efforts to solve the Korean peninsula schism. Mongolia could be an example for North Korea if it becomes interested in dropping its attachment to the former Soviet way of managing a country – and that is what brought a high level Mongolian group to The Korea Society in New York City, for breakfast, today, February 23, 2010.

The speaker was H.E. Damdin Tsogtbaatar, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Next to him sat the Mongolian Permanent Representative to the UN H.E. Enkhtsetseg Ochir. Also present was the Deputy Permanent Representative Sodnom Gankhuyag.

The presentation started with the geopolitics and the paradox that both neighbors – China and Russia – are conservative cultures but when changing they are revolutionary. Being enclosed in that sandwich, the Mongolian Foreign Policy has to be an open policy and with both neighbors nuclear  – it had to mean for Mongolia that it can only be free of nuclear weapons. From here he looked at the other two countries that started out in similar conditions like Mongolia – Cuba and North Korea. While Mongolia developed a democracy romanticism – this was not the case with the other two. In effect North Korea looked down at Mongolia and closed its embassy in 1999 and used the excuse that they do so because of economy conditions. Mongolia watched the South Korean Sunshine Policy towards North Korea and as regional Mongolian expats live in South Korea, and Mongolia’s interest to help stabilize the region in its own interest, they started to get more and more interested in what goes on on the Korean Peninsula and in Japan. For one thing – North Korea was interested in Petroleum. North Korea is isolated by its own choice – but someone must get interested in North Korea. In fact in the 1970’s North Korea was ahead of South Korea – more developed – but se now. During the Korean War – only the Russian and Mongolian Ambassadors were left in North Korea. Mongolia also helped by taking in the N. Korean orphans and returned them when hostilities stopped.

Mongolia does not think that the North Koreans are totally irrational, even though he told of some instances that you real wonder – one such was the idea of developing an ostrich farm in N. Korea. Mongolia initiated cultural exchanges that include also Japanese groups. The idea is that Mongolia can try to prepare the ground on which the meetings of the six parties could be restarted.

Mongolia does not believe that sanctions will work – they only punish the people who then clam up and there is no progress. That is when I noted that the two Mongolian men in the room both had purple ties, and I wandered if this is an effort not to look blue or red? Further – Acquiring nuclear technology is not the end – he said – see Kazakhstan and the Ukraine – they had nuclear and gave them up – eventually comes a government and changes of a sudden are possible.

North Korea – the transition of power is supposed to happen in 2012, but considering the health of the leader it could happen earlier. About money reform -That had an impact only on those that had money. It affected people in the cities – not the countryside.

John Delury, an Associate Director at the Asia Society Center on US-China Relations, said that when he spoke to North Koreans when asked why they do not evolve according to the China model, they answered that they are on the China track. See, China first got nuclear, then only formalized relations with the US after they became nuclear. Only then kicked in stage three that was economical.

The answer was – That it is so – Mao Tse-Tung got nuclear first, on account of Stalin. Mongolia does not want to be any-body’s model – “we avoid the word.”

Mongolia was able to put at one table North Korea and Japan but to bring together both Koreas is more difficult. First, with President Lee the Sunshine policy was ended, and a strong anti-North Korean approach was established. The feeling is that the South Koreans, like any democracy, became tired to wait. The situation is now such that both Koreas say – we know what to do – thanks – no – thanks.

Mongolia does no believe in treaties and going to court like lawyers when you deal with nuclear weapons. One can push the button and it is over – but then he said earlier that the belief is there that eventually people are rational – so what is it? Do we must be careful to avoid such situation by stopping a country like Iran from getting nuclear, in order to avoid later dilemmas? Anyway – Iran was not the Issue here but North Korea – so let us say that Mongolia can nevertheless provide an example to North Korea, even if not a model – that changing from threat to agreement could help economically. In effect the day before, the Mongolian envoy had an hour-long meeting with UNSG Ban Ki-moon.

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