Archive for the ‘Security Council’ Category

China Blocks Iran Sanctions; Ahmadinejad Seeks UN Seat

October 17, 2008

Associated Press

China is blocking high-level talks about imposing new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, apparently in retaliation for US arms sales to Taiwan, US officials and diplomats briefed on the matter said Thursday.

The Bush administration has been trying for more than a week to arrange a conference call among senior officials from the six nations negotiating with Iran. But they have so far been stymied by China’s refusal to commit, they said.

The officials and diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity in discussing internal deliberations between the United States and its negotiating partners: the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council – Britain, China, France and Russia – along with Germany.

The call has been expected since Iran’s top nuclear envoy wrote a letter to the six countries on Oct. 6 complaining about the attitude of the West in the talks.

The group discussion is the next step in a slow-moving pressure campaign designed to persuade Iran to give up objectionable parts of its nuclear program. Iran denies it is seeking a nuclear weapon.

The Chinese have not explained why they are balking at the conference call, but diplomats said they assume it is related to the Bush administration’s Oct. 3 announcement that it will sell up to $6.5 billion in advanced weaponry to Taiwan.

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Iran Seeks UN Security Council Position

By Allison Hoffman
Jerusalem Post

The United Nations General Assembly will hold a vote Friday on Iran’s request to become temporary member of the organization’s Security Council.

Iran may be under three sets of sanctions from the UN Security Council over its nuclear program, but that has not stopped it from campaigning for the temporary membership.

The chances of Iran winning the Asian regional seat against rival Japan in Friday’s voting are widely viewed as slim-to-none: Victory would require support from two-thirds of all General Assembly member countries that turn up for the secret ballot.

Yet experts said just being in the race at all may be prize enough for Teheran, which announced its candidacy in September 2007.

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The Latin Crisis

March 24, 2008

By Kay Bailey Hutchison
The Washington Times
March 24, 2008

This month Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez opened the next phase of his dangerous political career by nearly provoking a war with Colombia. In the aftermath of his military threats, the Colombian government learned disturbing information about the relationship between Mr. Chavez and the terrorist group FARC — the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
Hugo Chávez
Hugo Chavez called President Bush
“El Diablo” or the devil while addressing
the United Nations….

In light of those revelations, and their implications for U.S. national security, perhaps it is time the Bush administration placed Venezuela on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
On March 1, the Colombian military retaliated against numerous unprovoked FARC attacks in their territory and struck one of their clandestine camps — in Ecuador, killing one of the organization’s top leaders. FARC, a formerly Soviet-backed insurgency, today makes a living off international kidnapping, drug trafficking and terrorism. It still holds hundreds of hostages for ransom, including American missionaries and a former Colombian presidential candidate. It has been designated as one of the world’s leading terrorist organizations by the State Department.
In the days after the raid, Colombia uncovered e-mails in which FARC operatives reported, after meeting with Mr. Chavez, that significant financial support and even munitions would be forthcoming from the Chavez government. Evidence suggests Venezuela may have provided as much as $300 million to FARC since Mr. Chavez came to power.
If indeed Venezuela has provided money, weapons and other logistical or diplomatic support to FARC, it is guilty of supporting terrorism, a grievous violation of international law. In the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the United Nations Security Council reaffirmed the obligation of all states to refrain from assisting terrorists or tolerating their presence inside the country. The United States does not distinguish between terrorists and those who harbor them and support them — and neither should any of our allies.
Venezuela must now be held accountable for its descent into a terrorist haven, and Ecuador should not protest when free countries, like Colombia, step across boundaries to protect innocent lives from plotting terrorists. On March 17, when the Organization of American States held its summit in Washington, it missed an opportunity to take a strong stand against terrorism and instead passed a resolution condemning Colombia’s actions in self-defense.
While imposing additional sanctions on Venezuela could cause adverse short-term economic consequences, Mr. Chavez needs us more than we need him. Venezuelan oil has an extremely high-sulfur content, which requires special refineries to turn it into gasoline. Most of those refineries are in the Southern U.S. along the Gulf Coast. In short, Venezuela would have a very hard time finding other buyers if it loses its most important customer.
And with the increased willingness of Venezuela’s military to stand up to Mr. Chavez — not to mention his sinking popularity among the public — the United States is one customer Mr. Chavez can’t afford to lose.

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France Adds Nuclear Sub and Vows to Cut Warheads

March 22, 2008
The New York Times
March 22, 2008
PARIS — Dedicating France’s fourth nuclear-armed submarine, President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday defended his country’s arsenal as vital to deter a range of new threats, including the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran with intercontinental missiles.
“The security of Europe is at stake,” he said, conflating the Continent’s interests with those of France.“Countries in Asia and the Middle East are rapidly developing ballistic capacities,” he said. “I am thinking in particular of Iran,” which is “increasing the range of its missiles while serious suspicions weigh on its nuclear program.”

Mr. Sarkozy, stung by defeats in local elections in some large French cities, stuck to traditional presidential themes of national security and defense. His sudden divorce and remarriage, and his tendency to flit from one scheme to another, have made him seem slightly unserious, contributing to his party’s losses.

His mood on Friday was somber, as he inaugurated a new generation of nuclear submarine of the “Triomphant” class, this one named Le Terrible, which could be best translated as The Fearsome. It will be equipped with a new, nuclear-tipped missile, the M-51, whose range is secret but is understood, according to Le Monde, to be some 4,970 miles, able to reach Asia.

Clearly trying to balance nuclear modernization with gestures toward a European population more interested in eliminating nuclear weapons than improving them, Mr. Sarkozy said France would continue to reduce the number of warheads on airplanes, bringing its total nuclear force to fewer than 300 warheads, half the number during the cold war.

The actual number of warheads France possesses is secret. This year, the Federation of American Scientists, which tracks nuclear arsenals, said France had 348 warheads — 288 on submarines, 50 on air-launched cruise missiles and 10 bombs.

Mr. Sarkozy also called for all nuclear powers to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, as France had done, and he proposed talks on a treaty banning nuclear-armed short- and medium-range ground-to-ground missiles, a category that includes Scud-type missiles, and an idea likely to go nowhere in a world of Hezbollah, Hamas and the like. He also called for an immediate moratorium on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and a treaty banning its production, similar to an American proposal of 2006.

Mr. Sarkozy has been criticized, especially by Germany, for leaping ahead without consultation with European allies on major initiatives, like the “Mediterranean Union,” a looser grouping than the European Union and modified after Berlin’s protests. On Friday, he offered a “dialogue” on the role of French nuclear weapons in Europe’s collective defense.

“Regarding Europe, it is a fact that France’s nuclear forces by their very existence are a key element in its security,” he said. “Let’s together draw the logical conclusions: I propose to begin, with those of our European partners who wish to, an open dialogue on the role of deterrence and its contribution to our common security.”

Britain also has nuclear weapons, the main reason that Britain and France remain permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. Neither country has been willing to cede its seat to the European Union. The United States provides most of Europe’s nuclear deterrence through NATO and its doctrine of collective defense.

At the same time, Mr. Sarkozy described the French “force de frappe” as a weapon of self-defense. He was vaguer about France’s national interests than his predecessor, Jacques Chirac, who made a similar speech in January 2006, in which he appeared to broaden the list.

Then, Mr. Chirac delivered an unexpected and controversial warning to “rogue” states sponsoring terrorism by threatening to use nuclear weapons against any state that supported attacks on his country or considered using unconventional weapons.

“The leaders of states who use terrorist means against us, as well as those who would consider using, in one way or another, weapons of mass destruction, must understand that they would lay themselves open to a firm and adapted response on our part,” Mr. Chirac said. “This response could be a conventional one. It could also be of a different kind.”

Mr. Sarkozy, an aide told Le Monde, wanted to “return to the ‘fundamentals’ ” of deterrence.

Iran defiant over new UN nuke sanctions

March 4, 2008
By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press Writer 25 minutes ago

UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. Security Council imposed another round of sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, but Iran defiantly vowed Monday to continue its nuclear program despite the nearly unanimous censuring vote.
The resolution authorized a third set of sanctions targeting individuals, companies and equipment that could be used in Iran’s nuclear program. It was adopted on a vote of 14-0, with Indonesia abstaining.

Two previous sanctions resolution were adopted unanimously, but diplomats said this vote still sent a strong message to the Tehran government that there is global concern that Iran is trying to produce nuclear weapons. Iran insists the program is aimed only at generating power.

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Superpower divide over Kosovo widens

February 19, 2008
By ROBERT WIELAARD, Associated Press Writer

BRUSSELS, Belgium – The U.S. and the European Union‘s biggest powers quickly recognized Kosovo as an independent nation Monday, widening a split with Russia, China and some EU members strongly opposed to letting the territory break away from Serbia.

A Kosovar makes a V-sign in front of an Albanian and a US flag ...
A Kosovar makes a V-sign in front of an Albanian and a US flag during celebrations for the independence of Kosovo in Mitrovica. The United States and Europe’s big powers — Britain, France, Italy and Germany — all said they would recognise Kosovo’s declaration of independence, despite staunch opposition from some other EU members.(AFP/Armend Nimani)

The rift was on view for a second day at the U.N. Security Council, which was holding an emergency session to discuss the declaration of independence issued Sunday by Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority.

Ethnic Serbs rallying in northern Kosovo angrily denounced the United States and urged Russia to help Serbia hold on to the territory that Serbs consider the birthplace of their civilization. Protesters also marched in Serbia’s capital, and that nation recalled its ambassador to the U.S. to protest American recognition for an independent Kosovo.

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US congressional leaders urge Vietnam to match economic progress with political reforms

January 3, 2008

Friday, January 4, 2008 02:37 AM

HANOI (AP) – A high-ranking congressional delegation led by U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer praised Vietnam’s economic reforms on Thursday and urged the communist nation to match them with human rights reforms.”We think that freedom of individuals and free markets go together and complement one another,” said Rep. Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat and the second-ranking leader in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Hoyer led a 13-member delegation that also included House Minority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri, the No. 2-ranking Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives.

They met with President Nguyen Minh Triet, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai and leaders of Vietnam’s National Assembly.

The delegation arrived as Vietnam begins a two-year term on the U.N. Security Council.

“Vietnam is increasingly important, and our relationship is important,” Hoyer said.

Vietnam Seeking Greater International Role in 2008

January 2, 2008

The People’s Daily, China
January 2, 2008

Vietnam will play a more active role in world affairs this year with its external relation orientations centering on joining activities of the UN Security Council, and fostering economic diplomacy, local newspaper Vietnam News reported Wednesday.

Vietnamese Deputy Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem has set this year’s five tasks for the country’s diplomats.

First, continue to strengthen cooperation with other countries, bring into full play Vietnam’s role as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, take part more actively in multilateral forums, and enthusiastically join the settlement of global issues.

Second, step up external activities in the service of the local economy, deploy a government action plan and a party resolution for rapid, sustainable development of the economy, and accelerate multilateral cooperation in culture, education, science and technology.

Third, strive to complete the demarcation of boundaries and the planting of landmarks with neighboring countries before the end of 2008.

Fourth, keep on quickening the implementation of a party resolution and a government action plan on overseas Vietnamese, and create more favorable conditions for them to successfully integrate into their host countries, while contributing to the national construction and defense of their homeland.

Fifth, reinforce efforts to renew and increase the efficiency of external information and cultural services of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with external political and economic tasks.

Source: Xinhua

Bush: Iran Still Dangerous

December 4, 2007

At a morning press conference today, President Bush said Iran was dangerous before the NIE and Iran remains dangerous.

“Nothing has changed,” the President said.

Don’t let Iran off the hook just yet

By Angela Charlton, Associated Press 

PARIS – Don’t let Iran off the hook quite yet.

That’s the message European and U.N. officials are sending after a U.S. intelligence report concluded Iran is not building nuclear weapons.

Europeans say the U.S. U-turn strengthens their argument for negotiations with Tehran. But they also said that sanctions are still an option to compel Iran to be fully transparent about its nuclear program.

The report, a composite of findings from several U.S. intelligence agencies released Monday, said Iran halted nuclear weapons development in 2003; a stunning reversal for an administration whose conviction that Iran was seeking nuclear arms has driven two rounds of U.N. sanctions and stoked worldwide proliferation fears.

European officials, eager not to appear thrown off balance by the surprising report, insisted that the international community should not walk away from years of talks with an often defiant Tehran that is openly enriching uranium for uncertain ends. The report said Iran could still build a nuclear bomb by 2010-15.

“We must maintain pressure on Iran,” said French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Pascale Andreani, whose country has taken an increasingly tough stance against Iran in recent months.

She said France would pursue a new U.N. resolution with “constraining measures” against Iran over its refusal to comply with international obligations. A tougher stance on Iran was a campaign promise of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, elected in May.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, has led Europe‘s push to get Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment; an effort that will not be derailed by the U.S. report, said an EU official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

“It’s very important for us not to say, ‘Oh thanks for that, this whole thing is over now.’ It isn’t over. Iran is still in defiance of the U.N. Security Council and the Nonproliferation Treaty,” said William Hague, foreign affairs spokesman for Britain’s opposition Conservative Party.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown‘s spokesman Michael Allam said, “The report confirms we were right to be worried about Iran seeking to develop nuclear weapons. It also shows that the sanctions program and international pressure has had some effect.”

The report may relieve European fears about a possible U.S. move toward war in Iran. Sarkozy has evoked the risk of “a catastrophic alternative: an Iranian bomb, or the bombing of Iran” if diplomacy and sanctions fail.

“Those who believe dealing with Iran can only be done through a military attack are weakened,” said Yossi Mekelberg, a Middle East expert at Chatham House, an international affairs think tank in London.

The report was a vindication for the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has been criticized as too cautious on Iran.

IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said the report “should help defuse the current crisis,” the agency said in a statement.

“The estimate tallies with the agency’s consistent statements over the last few years,” it said. The IAEA urged further negotiations on the future of Iran’s nuclear program.

Despite the continued talk of sanctions, the viability of a new U.N. resolution was uncertain in the face of the new report. After high-level talks in Paris on Saturday, world powers predicted a third U.N. sanctions resolution within weeks.

The United States, Britain and France have been leading a push for more sanctions, while Russia and China, the other two veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council, have been less enthusiastic.

China’s Foreign Ministry would not say Tuesday whether the new report could undercut the case for sanctions or whether Beijing would support new measures against Tehran.

Ministry spokesman Qin Gang instead reiterated China’s standard position of using “diplomatic negotiations first” and said China hopes that “Iran can earnestly fulfill the U.N. Security Council resolutions and carry out comprehensive cooperation with the IAEA and make clarifications on relevant issues.”

Francois Gere, an Iran specialist and head of the French Institute of Strategic Analysis, said the report would have more impact on U.S. politics and strategy than in Europe.

“Europeans were, and remain, in a logic of diplomacy,” he said.

U.S. wants new Iran sanctions expedited

November 3, 2007

By DAVID STRINGER, Associated Press Writer

LONDON – U.S. officials said Friday that Russia and China were keeping the U.N. Security Council from moving quickly enough toward a third set of sanctions over Iran’s refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said there was an urgent need to ratchet up pressure over the issue, despite agreement Friday among the five permanent Security Council members, plus Germany, to come up with a new sanctions resolution if November reports by the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency do not show improved Iranian cooperation.

“The U.S. believes very strongly there is a need to accelerate the diplomacy, to strengthen the sanctions,” Burns told The Associated Press….

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

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Vietnam party chief heads to North Korea

October 16, 2007

By Frank Zeller HANOI (AFP) – Vietnam’s Communist Party chief on Tuesday left for a three-day visit to North Korea as state media stressed Hanoi‘s desire to support peace efforts on the Korean Peninsula.

Nong Duc Manh was joined by Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem, who is also deputy prime minister, on the visit at the invitation of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, the head of the Korean Workers’ Party.

Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-il

Vietnam — which is expected to be voted onto the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member later Tuesday — maintains relations with both Pyongyang, a communist ally, and Seoul, a major trade partner and investor.

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