Posted tagged ‘Art of the Deal’

Trump may mull naval blockade, no-fly zone against N. Korea: expert

May 24, 2018

Published : May 23, 2017 Korea Herald

Source Link: Trump may mull naval blockade, no-fly zone against N. Korea: expert

{Naval blockade? If this happens, I’m going to need plenty of popcorn. – LS}

The Donald Trump administration may push for naval blockades or the imposition of a “no-fly” zone against North Korea should it succeed in developing an intercontinental ballistic missile, an expert here said Tuesday.

Trump would view it as a red line for the nuclear-armed communist nation, according to Shin Beom-chul, a professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy in Seoul.

In case of the North’s successful development of ICBMs, “Taking military actions against Pyongyang will be the most appealing option on the table from Trump’s perspective,” he said in a paper released to media ahead of a security forum to be co-organized by Korea National Defense University and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (foundation).

The forum will be held in Seoul on Wednesday with the theme of “The New US Administration and Its Alliance Relations: Change and Continuity.” Shin plans to give a presentation at the conference.

Shin pointed out that Trump will be restrained from launching a direct military strike against the North due to concerns about massive retaliatory attacks.

“He can still create military tensions through other options without carrying out a direct military attack on North Korea,” the professor said. “That is, military operations, naval blockades, and the imposition of a no-fly zone could also escalate tensions in Northeast Asia.”

For these reasons, he added, attention needs to be paid to the US decision to keep deploying its aircraft carrier Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in the East Sea after May.

Another key question is how China and Russia will respond to such US actions if taken.

Both Beijing and Moscow may seek to avoid a direct military confrontation with the US and step up efforts to nudge Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table on its nuclear program, Shin said.

Or they may try to check such unilateral military actions by the US, creating military tensions among the regional powers and exacerbating the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, he said.

If regional players fail to manage pending risk factors, he added, Northeast Asia is likely to slide into the vortex of armed confrontations. (Yonhap)

Trump Hints He May Break With His Generals on Iran

March 23, 2018

FILE – U.S. Air Force General John Hyten testifies in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 4, 2017.

March 20, 2018 7:45 PM Jeff Seldin via VOA

Source Link: Trump Hints He May Break With His Generals on Iran

{Trump is getting his players in order to strengthen his deal making position for upcoming in-your-face meetings with Iran. – LS}


U.S. President Donald Trump appears increasingly willing to defy some of his top generals, as his administration grapples with how best to deal with Iran.

Trump is facing a May deadline to recertify the Iran nuclear deal, and signaled again Tuesday that he is not afraid to pull the U.S. out of the agreement unless other signatories are willing to make major changes.

“A lot of bad things are happening in Iran,” the president said during a visit to the White House by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“The deal is coming up in one month, and you will see what happens,” he added.

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks as he welcomes Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, March 20, 2018.

Trump has long been critical of the 2015 Iran deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which aimed to contain Tehran’s nuclear program and block the country’s pathway to building nuclear warheads.

In January, Trump said he was waiving nuclear sanctions against Iran for the “last time,” demanding U.S. lawmakers and Washington’s European allies “fix the deal’s disastrous flaws.”

But since then, top U.S. military officials have pushed back, repeatedly describing the deal as mostly beneficial, even as they continue to voice deep concerns about Tehran’s aggressive behavior across the Middle East.

“As I sit here today, Iran is in compliance with JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action],” the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, General John Hyten, told lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.
{Sorry, General. I find your statement extremely troubling. – LS}

“From a command that’s about nuclear [threats], that’s an important piece to me,” he said. “It allows me to understand the nuclear environment better.”

Hyten’s comments follow those made to the Senate Armed Services Committee last week by the commander of U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for U.S. operations in the Middle East.

“The JCPOA addresses one of the principle threats that we deal with from Iran so, if the JCPOA goes away, then we will have to have another way to deal with their nuclear weapons program,” said CENTCOM’s General Joseph Votel.

FILE – U.S. Army General Joseph Votel, commander of the U.S. Central Command, testifies during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 27, 2018.

“Right now, I think it is in our interest,” Votel added. “There would be some concern [in the region], I think, about how we intended to address that particular threat if it was not being addressed through the JCPOA.”

Both Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, have argued that staying in the deal is in the best interest of the U.S.

But despite having expressed confidence in his military advisers and officials early in his presidency, Trump has slowly been pushing aside those who have argued in favor of keeping the deal, most recently firing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

“When you look at the Iran deal, I think it’s terrible. I guess he thinks it was OK,” Trump told reporters last week after announcing Tillerson’s removal. “I wanted to break it or do something, and he felt a little bit differently.”

‘Destabilizing influence’

The man tapped to replace Tillerson, current U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo, has gained a reputation for favoring a much tougher approach to Iran.

FILE – CIA Director Mike Pompeo speaks at a forum in Washington, Jan. 23, 2018.

“The deal put us in a marginally better place, with respect to inspection, but the Iranians have on multiple occasions been capable of presenting a continued threat,” Pompeo said during an appearance in Washington last October.

“The notion that the entry into the JCPOA would curtail Iranian adventurism or their terror threat or their malignant behavior has now, what, two years on, proven to be fundamentally false,” he added.

Those concerns, both from the U.S. intelligence community and from defense officials, have only grown.

Top defense officials have criticized Iran for what they described as malign and destabilizing activities in places such as Iraq, Syria, Yemen and even Afghanistan.

“They [Iran] are not changing their behavior,” Mattis warned during a visit to the region last week. “They’re continuing to be a destabilizing influence.”

Other defense officials said such concerns cannot be discounted when contemplating U.S. policy toward Iran.

“We are taking a comprehensive look,” chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White told reporters last Thursday.

“We remain in the agreement, but we want our partners to understand that Iran is the source of chaos and confusion in the region,” she said. “Everywhere you look, Iran is there.”

U.S. seeks to boost case against Iran with U.N. Washington visit

January 26, 2018

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks at UN headquarters in New York Thomson Reuters

By Michelle Nichols January 26, 2018 Reuters and Business Insider

Source: U.S. seeks to boost case against Iran with U.N. Washington visit

{Setting the stage for the ‘art of the deal’. – LS}

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The United States will seek to boost its case for United Nations action against Iran when Security Council envoys visit Washington on Monday to view pieces of weapons that U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley says Tehran gave to Yemen’s Houthi group.

Haley and her 14 council colleagues will also lunch with President Donald Trump, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations said Friday.

The Trump administration has for months been lobbying for Iran to be held accountable at the United Nations, while at the same time threatening to quit a 2015 deal among world powers to curb Iran’s nuclear program if “disastrous flaws” are not fixed.

The U.N. ambassadors will visit a military hangar at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling near Washington, where Haley, the U.S envoy to the United Nations, last month presented remnants of what the Pentagon said was an Iranian-made ballistic missile fired from Yemen on Nov. 4 at Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh, as well as other weapons.

A proxy war is playing out in Yemen between Iran and U.S. ally Saudi Arabia.

Iran has denied supplying the Houthis with such weaponry and described the arms displayed in Washington as “fabricated.”

However, experts reported to the Security Council this month that Iran had violated U.N. sanctions on Yemen because “it failed to take the necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer” of short-range ballistic missiles and other equipment to the Iran-allied Houthi group.

The independent experts said they had “identified missile remnants, related military equipment and military unmanned aerial vehicles that are of Iranian origin and were introduced into Yemen after the imposition of the targeted arms embargo.”

Haley said last month she was exploring several U.N. options for pressuring Iran to “adjust their behavior”. But she is likely to struggle to convince some Security Council members, like veto powers Russia and China, that U.N. action is needed.

Most sanctions on Iran were lifted at the start of 2016 under the nuclear deal, which is enshrined in a U.N. Security Council resolution. The resolution still subjects Tehran to a U.N. arms embargo and other restrictions that are technically not part of the nuclear deal.

Haley has said the Security Council could strengthen the provisions in that resolution or adopt a new resolution banning Iran from all activities related to ballistic missiles. To pass, a resolution needs nine votes in favor, and no vetoes by the United States, Britain, France, China or Russia.

Under the current resolution, Iran is “called upon” to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for up to eight years. Some states argue that the language of the resolution does not make it obligatory.

A separate U.N. resolution on Yemen bans the supply of weapons to Houthi leaders and “those acting on their behalf or at their direction.”

The United States could propose people or entities to be blacklisted by the council’s Yemen sanctions committee, a closed-door move that would need consensus approval by the 15-members.

Diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, say Haley has not signaled which accountability option she might pursue or when.