On Thursday, North Korea shattered any illusions that may still linger in Seoul and Washington about the reclusive state’s willingness to negotiate away its nuclear deterrent. It did so by defining exactly what it means by “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” – the mission-critical phrase that was at the heart of the June Singapore Summit Declaration signed by Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had warned SWIFT that there would be “penalties applied” to firms that do not comply with the latest round of sanctions. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, SWIFT could now face EU penalties for siding with the US and violating its own Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) laws prohibiting companies siding with sanctions.
Released on Monday by the official Xinhua news agency, Facts About the China-US Trade Dispute and China’s Stance, is the first comprehensive document from President Xi Jinping’s administration on the new economic Cold War. “Intimidation” and “bullying” are used frequently while Washington has been accused of “contradicting itself and constantly challenging China.” This, in turn, has caused “serious damage” to trade relations between the world’s two largest economies.
While both Trump and Graham are likely right that Beijing had a hand in North Korea’s recalcitrant statement on Pompeo, the turn is likely part of a wider strategy to supplant America’s geopolitical dominance in Asia rather than a reaction to the tiff on tariffs.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has placed himself back at the center of the game, as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s visit to Beijing adds yet another piece to the fast-shifting diplomatic chess board that is the Korean peninsula.
At the UN pulpit, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivered a measured, elegant, cultured and at the same time scathing speech thoroughly debunking Trump’s assertions with actual facts. The overall theme was “the path of moderation.” A particular pearl: “Moderation is the synergy of ideas and not the dance of swords.” The contrast with the bellicose, Manichean Trump Doctrine was stark.
The United Nations Security Council’s 15-0 vote to impose a new set of sanctions on North Korea somewhat disguises the critical role played by the Russia-China strategic partnership, the “RC” at the core of the BRICS group.
Much of South Korea has been within range of Pyongyang’s artillery, unguided rockets, and short-range missiles, for some time. Indeed, such threats against Seoul and its huge metropolitan surroundings have existed for many years. As for Japan, North Korea has long had the ability to deliver some type of warhead to much of the island nation. However, without a reliable re-entry vehicle to protect a nuclear device during re-entry into the atmosphere, a missile of any longer range adds little to the threat level for Seoul or Tokyo.
Moon will take office at a time of heightened tensions with North Korea. To understand what kind of policy he will pursue requires familiarity with liberal foreign-policy thinking in South Korea since the 1998-2003 presidency of Kim Dae-jung. Kim had watched the Cold War come to a peaceful end in Europe, and he wanted to bring his own country’s ongoing confrontation with the communist North to a similarly non-violent conclusion.
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has called for an investigation into “potentially fraudulent statements and misrepresentations” made by companies promoting investment in a property development involving the family company of White House advisor Jared Kushner.
Russia raised the level of alert for its air defense system just a few hours after North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile on Saturday and after Washington and Moscow clashed at the United Nations over a possible military conflict on the Korean Peninsula.
Donald Trump’s latest moves toward North Korea are “dangerous” and sow confusion in a tense geopolitical scenario, says veteran Korea analyst Daniel C Sneider. Trump’s recent declaration that he ordered a US carrier strike group to race toward Korea when there was no such force in the vicinity undercuts American credibility and increases the possibility of a misstep, said Sneider, associate director of research for Stanford University’s Walter H Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center.