One of the first things that U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates did during his trip to India last week was to assure Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the United States did not intend to cut and run from Afghanistan. America was committed to Afghanistan for the long-term, he said, trying to calm Indian concerns over the Obama administration's stated plans to begin withdrawing troops from July 2011.
Global News Journal
In the sound and fury following the U.N. nuclear governors’ censure of Iran last week for its cover-up of a second uranium enrichment site, and Tehran’s rejection of a nuclear cooperation deal with world powers, a broader, festering issue was obscured.
For years Mohamed ElBaradei, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and outgoing head of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, has warned the United States and other Western powers against jumping to conclusions about Iran’s nuclear program. While Washington, Israel and their allies see increasing indications that Tehran’s secretive nuclear program is aimed at developing weapons, ElBaradei told an audience of academics, politicians and diplomats at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City that his agency has “no concrete evidence” that Tehran is pursuing an atom bomb.
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
Regular readers of this blog will know that I have questioned before the value of the "AfPak" label, which implies that an incredibly complicated situation involving many different countries can be reduced to a five-letter word.
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
A week after suspected Sunni Islamist insurgents attacked the headquarters of the Pakistan Army, a suicide bomber killed six senior Revolutionary Guards commanders and 25 other people in Shi'ite Iran in one of the deadliest attacks in years on the country's most powerful military institution.
President Obama and the leaders of France and Britain have deliberately raised the stakes in the confrontation over Iran's nuclear programme by dramatising the disclosure that it is building a second uranium enrichment plant. Their shoulder-to-shoulder statements of resolve, less than a week before Iran opens talks with six major powers in Geneva, raised more questions than they answer.
U.S. President Barack Obama says he wants a world without nuclear weapons. But will that ever happen?
Obama showed he’s serious this week. He chaired a historic summit meeting of the U.N. Security Council which unanimously passed a U.S.-drafted resolution that envisages “a world without nuclear weapons”.
It was the first time a U.S. president chaired a meeting of the Security Council since it was established in 1946.
John Burroughs, executive director of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, an advocacy group, identified serious weaknesses in the resolution, including the absence of mandatory disarmament steps for the world’s five official nuclear powers — the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia.
Some diplomats from countries without nuclear weapons said the lack of mandatory disarmament moves is not just a weakness, but a loophole the five big powers — which have permanent seats and vetoes on the Security Council — deliberately inserted into the resolution so that they wouldn’t have to scrap their beloved nuclear arsenals.
An official from one of the five big powers appeared to confirm this in an “off-record” email to Reuters explaining the language in the resolution: “I would underline that creating the conditions for a world free of nuclear weapons is not the same as calling for a world free of nuclear weapons.” He added that “the spirit of the resolution is much more about non-proliferation than disarmament.”
A diplomat and disarmament expert from a European country with no nuclear weapons said this was typical of the “cynicism” of some permanent Security Council members. He added that the U.S. delegation had made very clear that the use of the word “disarmament” meant total nuclear disarmament — perhaps not today, but someday.
China’s President Hu Jintao said China was not planning to get rid of its nuclear arsenal anytime soon. So did French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The resolution didn’t name Iran and North Korea. However, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Sarkozy filled in the blanks and called for tougher sanctions against Iran for defying U.N. demands to halt sensitive nuclear work.
The resolution didn’t mention Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea, the four others known or assumed to have nuclear weapons. But it did politely ask “other states” to sign the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and get rid of their atom bombs.
Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi was the only leader of a council member state that stayed away from the meeting. Several council diplomats expressed relief at his absence, saying they had been afraid the long-winded Gaddafi would have exceeded the five-minute limit for statements.
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
Back in 2008, even before Barack Obama was elected, Washington pundits were urging him to adopt a new regional approach to Afghanistan and Pakistan involving Russia, India, China, Saudi Arabia and even Iran. The basic argument was that more troops alone would not solve the problems, and that the new U.S administration needed to subsume other foreign policy goals to the interests of winning a regional consensus on stabilising Afghanistan.
from Tales from the Trail:
Veteran Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau is on Hugo Chavez's case.
Morgenthau warned last week at Washington's Brookings Institution that Iran is using Venezuela's financial system to avoid international sanctions so it can acquire materials to develop nuclear weapons and missiles. He urged more scrutiny of the "emerging axis of Iran and Venezuela" in an op/ed article in the Wall Street Journal, in which he said a number of mysterious Iranian factories had sprung up in remote parts of Venezuela.