Iran violates nuclear deal, exceeding enriched uranium stockpile

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Israel Strikes Iranian Targets in Syria, Report Says; 16 Killed, 21 Wounded

Syrian air defenses responded to attacks on Homs and Damascus outskirts launched from Lebanese air space, Syrian state media says

Sixteen people including a baby were killed and 21 were wounded by an Israeli attack on multiple Syrian and Iranian targets on the outskirts of Damascus and Homs, Syrian state-run al-Ikhbariya broadcaster reported, citing its correspondent.

Israeli warplanes fired missiles at Syria that targeted Syrian military positions in Homs and Sahnaya, south of Damascus, the Syrian military said on Monday.

“The first assessment is that a Russian-made missile, part of the air defense system, which was part of the air defense system that took place last night in the face of an air strike against Syria, completed its range and fell into our country after it missed,” Turkish Cypriot Foreign Minister Kudret Ozersay said in a social media post.

The object hit a mountainside north of the capital Nicosia.

Syrian air defenses confronted the attack, which was launched from Lebanese airspace, the Syrian defense ministry said in a brief report on its Telegram feed. 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 16 people were killed, among them three children and ten Iranian militias and Hezbollah members. The observatory added that the Israeli Navy also took part in the strike, targeting ten Hezbollah bases, including compounds that were used by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

SANA said the dead included a baby and that other children were among the wounded in Sahnaya. It was unclear whether the civilians were killed in the strike or in the resulting blasts.

Social media pages affiliated with the Assad regime have been sharing posts saying a man named Anas Albiat and his wife Rama Arnaout. along with their infant son, were killed in the strike.

According to the observatory, among the sites hit were Revolutionary Guards’ compounds south of Damascus, a strategic research center northwest of Damascus, Hezbollah facilities near the Syrian-Lebanese border, where large fires were reported after several arms depots were hit.

In addition, a research center in Homs was reportedly struck, in addition to an airbase south of Homs that serves Iranian and Hezbollah forces.

The Israeli army has yet to comment on the incident.

Syrian state TV station al-Ikhbariya, citing its correspondent, said the pressure of explosions over Damascus had caused damage to some homes in Sahnaya, south of the capital, breaking glass and slightly injuring a number of people.

State news agency SANA cited its correspondent as saying Syrian air defenses had brought down a number of the missiles.

In recent years, Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria that it says have targeted its regional arch foe, Iran, and the Lebanese Hezbollah group, which it calls the biggest threat to its borders.

Iran and Hezbollah are fighting on the side of President Bashar Assad in the Syrian war, and Israel says they are trying to turn Syria into a new front against Israelis.

On June 12, SANA reported that Syrian Air Defenses thwarted an Israeli attack on Tal al-Hara in southern Syria and shot down a number of missiles.

Located in Daraa Governorate, Tal al-Hara is considered as a strategic hill overlooking the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

The missile attack resulted only in damage and Israel then conducted an “electronic war” in which radars were subjected to interference, SANA added.

Hours after the incident, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a message saying that Israel responds “decisively and forcibly to any attack against us,” yet did not claim responsibility for the alleged attack.

Earlier in June, Syrian state media said Israeli missiles were fired toward a Syrian military base in Homs, a day after Israel confirmed it had struck Syrian targets on Saturday in retaliation for rocket fire toward the Golan Heights.

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North Korea responds to Trump’s suggested meeting saying it is ‘interesting’

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Trump plans to meet North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un at the Korean Demilitarized Zone//AIWA

US President Donald Trump indicated he would be willing to meet North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un at the Korean Demilitarized Zone. In response, North Korea released a statement saying it was a “very interesting suggestion”, but that they haven’t received an official proposal.

After some very important meetings, including my meeting with President Xi of China, I will be leaving Japan for South Korea (with President Moon). While there, if Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the Border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!

Trump says he’s willing to meet Kim Jong Un at the DMZ while visiting South Korea, touting his relationship with the North Korean leader. “It’s good to get along. If I didn’t become president, you’d be right now in a war with North Korea, that’s a certainty”

Asked about his tweet about meeting Sunday at the DMZ with Kim Jong Un. Says he just put out “a feeler.” Not sure Kim is available. But wants to see the DMZ and thought it might be a chance for a brief meeting with Kim. Says North Korea has more US remains to return.

In offering to meet Kim Jong Un, spoke with evident envy about the role of the DMZ as a border wall between North & South Korea. “That’s what they call a border. Nobody goes through that border,” he said. He didn’t mention the 800,000 landmines in the DMZ.

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U.S. Senate Condemns Deepening Israel-China Ties, Cites ‘Serious Security Concerns’

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A Senate committee promotes legislation expressing concern about Israel allowing a Chinese company to operate the port of Haifa, long a port of call for the Sixth Fleet//Crimson Tazvinzwa

Two years ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced during a visit to Singapore a “pivot to Asia,” an amusing echo of the Obama-era pivot that was much maligned and misunderstood. (It was criticized as proof that the Middle East would be abandoned, and for the appearance that it focused more on military cooperation with Asian countries wary of China, rather than a more three-dimensional engagement with the rising powers of the East.) For Israel, the announcement was a rhetorical flourish for a reality that had been evolving over many years.

From its early days as an independent state, Israel courted those members of the United Nations that might be willing to provide political recognition. The Philippines and Burma (today’s Myanmar) were the only Asian nations to provide support in 1947 and 1948, voting for the partition resolution and the admittance of Israel as a UN member, respectively. Burma’s leader, U Nu, was the first foreign leader to visit the state. In the 1950s, Israel helped Singapore develop its security sector, and relations have remained strong over the years, often out of the limelight, because of sensitivities about offending Singapore’s large Muslim-majority neighbor, Malaysia.

India and China, the two Asian powerhouses of today, established discreet relations with Israel in 1950, but it took 40 years to establish full diplomatic relations. Trade was modest in the early years, in the tens of millions of dollars, but today, China is Israel’s second-most-important trading partner, with more than US$17 billion in two-way trade in 2017, and with India around $5 billion. (The US-Israel trade volume, by comparison, was about $35 billion in 2017 and 2018.)

Israel is now a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and China has begun to think of its strategic location as part of the massive Belt and Road Initiative.

In other measures of soft power, Israeli-China and Israeli-India relations are developing depth. There are two Confucius Institutes in Israel, based in the two major universities in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. An Israeli non-governmental organization, the Israel Asia Center, is committed to building ties among emerging leaders from China, Taiwan, South Korea and India. Tourist travel from Asia is growing annually by double digits, and the Israeli tourism industry plans expanded hotel capacity to accommodate an anticipated growth in travel from newly mobile Chinese citizens.

Economic relations in a global marketplace may not be the most important metric of power and influence. One could argue that all these examples simply show the power of mutual economic benefit. Israelis are pragmatic, and their location between Europe and Asia provides a distinct opportunity to sustain their economic success by expanding to new markets.

But with the rising Asian powers, it’s worth keeping in mind that the scale of economic interaction can lead to interdependence in some sectors, and that takes on larger political and security dimensions. For now, nearly all analysts would insist that there is no substitute for the security partnership with the US; Israel has been able to develop its high-tech defense sector and its civilian economy, and avoid painful compromises with the Palestinians, thanks to American political protection and support.

And in the past, when forced to choose between meeting US expectations or working with new Asian business partners, Israel has accepted the primacy of its ties to Washington. In the late 1990s and again in 2005, Israel had to publicly rescind lucrative transactions with China when the US objected to the technology transfer of airborne radar systems and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones).

Even now, as trade in defense goods forms a significant part of Israeli exports to India and to China, those transactions are still fraught with political considerations. Israel is wary of China’s arms trade with Iran, and China is unhappy with Israel’s important investments in India’s defense sector, estimated at about $600 million in one recent annual count. So one cannot make the case that Israel has deep relationships of trust with the Asian powers, comparable to its decades of strategic cooperation with Washington.

However, it’s still worth opening our minds to the potential shift. Trade in the billions of dollars takes on political value for politicians and industry leaders. They begin to have a vested interest in keeping those relationships steady. Should US-China relations move in a more adversarial direction, Israel may be faced with some difficult tradeoffs. The dilemmas will sharpen if a post-Trump administration walks back the over-the-top embrace of hardline Israeli positions, creating friction in that key relationship. And rising anti-Semitism in many Western countries will erode Israelis’ trust in the West.

It’s not self-evident that Israel’s pivot to Asia will harm its traditional foreign policy, but it might.

 

 

With Its National Security at Stake, Israel Takes Sides in U.S.-China Trade War

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North Korea Launches Short-Range ‘missiles’

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It’s a sovereign country, why does it have to denuclearize? Other countries have way more nuclear arms, let them denuclearize first.

North Korea reportedly launches shortrange ballistic missile. South Koreamedia is reporting North Korea has launched a missile. North Korea reportedly launched multiple unidentified shortrange “projectiles” off its eastern coast Saturday.

“North Korea fired several short-range projectiles off its east coast on Saturday, in a move likely to raise tensions as denuclearization talks with the United States remain stalled,” the New York Times reports.

“The V-shape formation is usually used when going through a crowd of people. But on Friday, it was likely used as a show of North Korea’s meticulousness,” the official told local news. The guards are the most elite soldiers of the North Korean army, reports say. While most North Korean male citizens are obligated to 10 years of military service, Kim’s guards serve for at least 13 years.

“The South Korean military said in a statement that the North had fired several short-range projectiles between 9:06 a.m. and 9:27 a.m. from near Wonsan, a coastal town east of Pyongyang, the capital. The projectiles flew 70 to 200 kilometers before they landed in the sea between North Korea and Japan, it said.”

US President Donald Trump ‘paid’ Kim Jong-un a $2 million bribe to get the remains of Otto Warmbier

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Kim Jong Un says it was for his hospital care …?

North Korea issued a $2m hospital bill for the care of Otto Warmbier, the American man who died after falling into a coma while in custody in the country.

The previously undisclosed invoice contradicts an earlier stance from the Trump administration//Lily Puckett

The bill was handed to Joseph Yun, the former State Department Special Representative for North Korea who went to Pyongyang in June 2017 to bring Warmbier home, sources told CNN.

When he was released, Mr Warmbier was in a comatose state and died a few days later.

He’d fallen into a coma in March 2016 after being sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labour by the North Korean government for tearing down a propaganda sign in a Pyongyang hotel.

The reason for his comatose state has never been confirmed, though North Korean officials maintain that he was not tortured.

Mr Yun said he called then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who then called President Trump. They both instructed Mr Yun to sign the agreement, he says.

The White House has declined to comment on the negotiation, which contradicts the administration’s stance on Kim Jong Un’s knowledge of Warmbier’s condition upon his release.

“He tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word,” Mr Trump said of Kim Jong Un at their February summit in Hanoi. “I don’t believe he would have allowed that to happen.”