Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Geopolitics -Headlines - 06/04/2018

White House Announces Exact Time of Trump, Kim First Meeting on June 12

4 June, 2018

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The first meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will take place at 9:00 a.m. Singapore time on June 12, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a press briefing on Monday.

"The schedule, tentatively, for that first meeting will be on June 12 at 9:00 a.m. Singapore time and take place on June 11, 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time," Sanders told reporters

The US advance team, which arrived in Singapore last week, is finalizing "logistical preparations" for the historic meeting and will remain there until the summit begins, Sanders added.

A US delegation remains in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) working with a North Korean delegation ahead of the summit, according to the White House. Sanders characterized their work as "positive" and added that "progress has been made."
However, the United States is continuing its maximum pressure policy on North Korea despite an upcoming summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, Sarah Sanders said in a briefing.

However, the United States is continuing its maximum pressure policy on North Korea despite an upcoming summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, Sarah Sanders said in a briefing.

"Our policy hasn't changed and as the President stated, the sanctions are still on, they are very powerful. And we would not take these sanctions off unless North Korea denuclearized," Sanders told reporters when asked if the US maximum pressure campaign was still in place.

On Friday, after meeting with North Korean Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol, Trump said he no longer wants to use the term "maximum pressure" to describe the US-ledcampaign of economic sanctions on North Korea

Not to be outdone by the US, Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly invited North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to visit Russia in September,  Russian-language media reported.

The report by Russian news agency RIA News was picked up by Reuters. RIA cited Ivan Melnikov, the deputy speaker of the lower house of Russia's parliament, as the source for the announcement. Last week, Bloomberg reported that Putin had sent a confidential message to Kim via Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Reports of the summit invitation followed allegations that North Korea's detonation of its nuclear-testing site had been fabricated. Kim famously promised to close the site as a gesture of good faith toward Washington (though several reports by independent observers had previously claimed that the site was already unusable following a catastrophic tunnel collapse in the wake of a September nuclear test).
Of course, Putin isn't the only world leader planning a meeting with Kim. Sky News reported on Sunday - citing the North's state-run KCNA news agency -that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is planning a visit to the DPRK to meet with Kim.
A KCNA report quoted Mr Assad as saying: "I am going to visit the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and meet Kim Jong Un."
It said Mr Assad made the comments on Wednesday while receiving diplomatic credential documents from North Korean ambassador Mun Jong Nam.
There was no indication such a trip had been planned and Syria has not confirmed the comments.
The report also quoted Mr Assad saying he was sure Mr Kim would "achieve the final victory and realise the reunification of Korea".
According to KCNA, Mr Assad said: "The world welcomes the remarkable events in the Korean Peninsula brought about recently by the outstanding political calibre and wise leadership of Kim Jong Un."

If the Assad meeting goes ahead as planned, it would be the first time a world leader met with Kim in Pyongyang. North Korea and the Syrian regime have maintained strong relations during the Syrian civil war, as the North has been accused of helping arm the Syrian regime.
Kim has been in an uncharacteristically diplomatic mood since the beginning of the year. He has repeatedly met with Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping, and has also signed a historic agreement with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Meanwhile, we pointed out earlier this morning that Kim has replaced North Korea's top three military officials with younger officials who might be more amenable to Kim's denuclearization agenda (and also less likely to stage a palace coup in his absence during talks with the US next week).

Iran to inform IAEA on start of process to raise uranium enrichment capacity

Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation will tell the UN nuclear watchdog on Tuesday of its plans to increase production

5 June, 2018

Iran will inform the UN nuclear watchdog in Vienna on Tuesday over its start of a process to increase the country’s uranium enrichment capacity, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi told ISNA news agency.

In a letter that will be handed over to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) ... Iran will announce that the process of increasing the capacity to produce ... UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) ... will start on Tuesday,” Mr Kamalvandi said.

He said Iran had the capacity to accelerate production of centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium. The UF6 is a feedstock for centrifuges.

Iran’s ultimate authority supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Monday he had ordered preparations to increase uranium enrichment capacity if a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers falls apart after the US withdrawal from it last month.

The leader (Khamenei) meant that we should accelerate some process ... linked to our nuclear work capacity to move forward faster in case needed,” Mr Kamalvandi said.

European signatories of the accord back the deal but have concerns over Iran’s ballistic missile programme and its influence in the Middle East. Iran says the two issues are non-negotiable.

Under the agreement with the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China, Iran strictly limited uranium enrichment capacity to satisfy the powers that it could not be used to develop atomic bombs.

In exchange, Iran received relief from sanctions, most of which were rescinded in January 2016.

The deal allows Iran to continue 3.67 percent uranium enrichment, far below the roughly 90 percent threshold of weapons-grade. Before the deal was reached, Tehran enriched uranium to up to 20 percent purity.

Since president Donald Trump’s announcement of the US exit on May 8, EU leaders have pledged to try to keep Iran’s oil trade and investment flowing but admitted that will not be easy to do.

Iranian authorities have said that if the European countries failed to keep the pact alive, Tehran had several options, including resuming its 20 percent uranium enrichment.

Iran: Those who attack Iran will be hit ten times harder – Khamenei

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei said that Iran had no intention of abiding by sanctions and giving up its nuclear activities, during a televised address in Tehran on Monday.

Statements made by some European states indicate that they expect the Iranian nation to both endure sanctions and to abandon their nuclear activities which are the undoubtedly future need of the country; and to live on with the restrictions already imposed. Let me tell these states that such disturbing dreams will not come true”, said Khamenei, as he addressed hundreds of thousands of people during a ceremony to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the death of the late founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Today our youths have become the number one missile power in the region. Iran will attack ten times more if Iran is attacked by enemy”, he added.

Tensions have increased between Iran and the West since US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, signed between Iran, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France – and Germany.

Syrian Troops Thwart ISIS Infiltration Attempt From Eastern Euphrates Bank

The Syrian troops stationed in the southern countryside of Deir Ezzor province, foiled massive ISIS infiltration attempt from the eastern flank of Euphrates river.

SANA agency reported on Sunday, “Units of Syrian Arab Army thwarted infiltration attempt by terrorist groups of Daesh (ISIS) to the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor province, inflicting losses upon their ranks and equipment.”

The ISIS terrorists control the village of “Al-Sha’fah” launched a swift-assault targeting the Syrian positions along the western flank of Euphrates. however, the SAA units managed to repel their offensive.

Meanwhile, the Syrian defensive troops also defended against another ISIS surprise attack was concentrated on “Al-Hasrat” village that located north of Al-Bukamal city, according to SANA.

Syrian tribesmen have meet and concluded the only way to remove the US from their land is by force and they seem bent on preparing the Gurilla war fare of the desert to do just that. At the same time Trump vows to leave the North and turkeys command and the south in agreement with Russia and Syrian President.

On top of existing 20,000-man NATO Response Force

NATO plans new readiness pool with 30,000 troops
NATO wants to build a new readiness pool of about 30,000 soldiers. They are to be operational on 30 days notice and are to be equipped with fighter jets and ships. In high NATO circles it is being said, “Germany will play a leading role” in this new pool.
NATO wants to improve its readiness in the event of an attack from Russia. The Alliance plans to significantly increase the operational readiness of selected, existing forces on land, sea and air of individual Allies, which then together would form a kind of preparedness pool in case of a crisis.
These are about 30,000 soldiers who should be ready within 30 days.

Saber Strike 18 drills will kick off in Poland and the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, with over 18,000 soldiers from 19 countries participating in the event. It will also be the first time such large-scale military drills are conducted in the region.

According to the Haaretz news outlet, Israel will take part in the Saber Strike 18 drills, marking the first-ever joint military exercises of the country with NATO forces.

Israel is sending a few dozen soldiers, who are set to partake in the second, less extensive stage of the drills.
According to the plans, they will be equipped with several hundred fighter jets and ships. Die Welt Am Sonntag has this information from highly informed NATO diplomats.
The new Readiness Pool will be built in addition to the existing NATO Response Force, (NRF) which currently has around 20,000 troops.
The NATO defense ministers will be discussing it next week at their meeting in Brussels (June 7 and 8). The NATO leaders would then adopt a political declaration at their summit in mid-July.
A NATO official said: “NATO will not set up or station a new force. The focus of our discussions is to increase the preparedness of existing national forces and their ability to move within Europe and across the Atlantic.” However, NATO defense ministers would not be advising on specific troop numbers on Thursday, the NATO official said.
In high NATO circles it was said, “Germany will play a leading role” in this new pool. “We need to get faster and be able to quickly move a large number of soldiers and equipment for credible deterrence, and exhibit our defense readiness,” a NATO diplomat said.”
The initiative for the new reserve pool came from Washington in recent months.
In the future, NATO also wants to improve “military mobility” in order to be able to transport heavy equipment such as tanks faster to the place of deployment. This requires infrastructure improvements but also requires the removal of administrative hurdles and accelerated political decisions. However, as NATO circles have said, it is not just about better transport within Europe, but also between European and transatlantic allies, such as America and Canada. The NATO defense ministers will also discuss this issue next week.

Saudi King Salman has threatened to take military action against neighboring Qatar if the nation follows through with a plan to install an anti-aircraft defense system. 

Salman said he would take military action to “eliminate this defense system.”

Saudi Arabia and many of its allies severed ties with Qatar last year, based around a false media report claiming the Qatari Emir wasn’t sufficiently hostile toward Iran. The Saudis have since suggested they’d channel out the entire Qatari border, turning it into an island, and dumping nuclear waste in the area.

Around this ever growing Saudi hostility toward Qatar, the nation made a deal to buy S-400 air defense systems from Russia. Russia says that plans to deliver the missiles have not changed, despite the Saudi threats.
That Qatar turned to Russia for air defenses is interesting, as historically the nation has heavily bought arms from the US.

Qatar also hosts a massive US base, which one would think would preclude a Saudi attack on them
The S-400 has been a popular export for Russia, with another US ally, Turkey, also having recently agreed to buy it.

The US has expressed annoyance about these nations buying Russian arms, but fear of losing future sales has precluded any major moves to punish them.

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