BERLIN/WASHINGTON/MOSCOW (Own report) – The EU and USA have expanded their sanctions against Russia and – in addition to individuals – have now also placed important Russian companies on their lists. Washington has restricted dealings, for example, with Rosneft and the Gazprombank. Brussels has announced the possibility of preventing EU companies from doing business with Russian companies and is planning to list them by the end of July. German business circles are protesting. They have already suffered billions in losses. Experts are warning that, with its sanctions against Russia, the West may experience, in the economic arena, an overreach similar to that experienced by the US in the military arena with its war on Iraq. With the power of the West obviously waning, it has already become noticeable that even close allies are defecting. Observers explain this with the Crimea conflict: NATO countries had been unable to retain the Crimea within the reign of its allied Ukrainian government; therefore it seems that an alliance with NATO countries would no longer be a reliable assurance against ones enemies. Defections can be noticed in Asia and Latin America, not least of all because of the recent founding of the BRICS development bank, rivaling the US-dominated World Bank. Russia and China are among the founders of this bank. Continue reading
Chancellor Merkel used her speech to the Bundestag on Thursday to tell lawmakers that her government supported plans to step up sanctions on Moscow as a result of the Kremlin’s continuing moves to absorb the Ukrainian autonomous territory of Crimea into the Russian Federation.
“At the European Council beginning today, the heads of state and government of the European Union will fix further phase-two sanctions that we agreed two weeks ago,” Merkel said.
“These include an extension of the list of responsible people against whom travel restrictions and account freezes are in effect,” she added. Continue reading
Another day, another ‘line’ drawn in the sand.
“Continued Russian military intervention in Ukraine will only deepen Russia’s diplomatic isolation and exact a greater toll on the Russian economy,” Obama said at the White House. The U.S. can “calibrate our response” based on whether Russia chooses “to escalate or to de-escalate the situation.” Continue reading
From a Biblical perspective, one should keep in mind what happens to any nation that divides (Joel 3:2) Israel, His land. God lets it be known the consequences are high. Abandonment also leads to destruction.
Ahead of meeting with Netanyahu, president says unprecedented ‘aggressive settlement construction’ detrimental to peace process
Israel can expect to face international isolation and possible sanctions from countries and companies across the world if Benjamin Netanyahu fails to endorse a framework agreement with the Palestinians, US President Barack Obama cautioned on Sunday ahead of a meeting with the Israeli prime minister.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Obama stressed that time was running out for Israel to achieve a peace deal, and added that he believed Netanyahu had the capacity to rally Israel’s citizens behind an agreement.
But if Netanyahu “does not believe that a peace deal with the Palestinians is the right thing to do for Israel, then he needs to articulate an alternative approach,” Obama said. Continue reading
Previous news of corruption scandals and a plagued administration the last few months tell a tale that’s similar to what has transpired in Egypt, Libya, Iraq and so on… The US has internally overthrown all of them. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a shock for Erdogan to believe the same will happen to him. This could also explain why Turkey has switched from American military systems to Chinese in their last purchase. This is likely a huge turning point in history and will have a measurable impact on NATO relations, future support for wars both politically and physically. This will also mean closer relations with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and even possible membership.
Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan has snapped his links with Washington and rushed into Iran’s arms for direct action against US interests. He is spiting the Obama administration in the belief of a US plot to replace him with President Abdullah Gul and discredit him by corruption scandals implicating members of his family in sanctions-busting business with Iran through the state-owned Turkish Halkbank. Continue reading
- U.S. and Cuban officials have held mid-level discussions in Washington and Havana
- ‘We’re in talks’ with Cuba on a wide range of issues, agreed Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes on Tuesday
- Middle-men including Latin American diplomats have also been carrying messages back and forth between Washington and Havana
- U.S.-Cuba relations have seen an unprecedented thaw since President Obama took office, and a host of lawmakers with Cuban ties are upset
- America’s 50-year-long trade embargo with the communist nation has been slammed by the UN but embraced by survivors of the Castro regime
The handshake seen ’round the water cooler was no fluke, it turns out. Continue reading
WASHINGTON — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, stepping up his effort to blunt a diplomatic offensive by Iran, plans to warn the United Nations next week that a nuclear deal with the Iranian government could be a trap similar to one set by North Korea eight years ago, according to an Israeli official involved in drafting the speech.
But the Israeli government, clearly rattled by the sudden talk of a diplomatic opening, offered a preview Sunday of Mr. Netanyahu’s hard-edged message, in which he will set the terms for what would be acceptable to Israel in any agreement concerning Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Continue reading
NEW DELHI: With a view to curb appetite for gold, banks are sanctioning advances, including personal loans, only if borrowers agree not to use the proceeds to buy the metal beyond permitted levels.
Banks have placed the condition that borrowers should not use even personal loans to buy gold, a senior official of a private sector bank said.
The measures follow directions from the Reserve Bank of India to banks and NBFCs that are aimed at reining in demand for the yellow metal. The RBI and the government have taken steps to curb demand for gold after imports of the metal widened the current account deficit. Continue reading
A Panamanian official announced Wednesday that more containers of suspected weapons have been found aboard a ship seized last week that was bound for North Korea from Cuba.
Panamanian Security Minister Jose Raul Mulino told the Reuters news agency that authorities found two new containers in addition to the two that were previously discovered under thousands of tons of sugar.
Acting on intelligence it hasn’t publicly described, Panama seized the rusting, 34-year-old North Korean freighter Chong Chon Gang on July 11 as it headed toward the Caribbean entrance of the Panama Canal on its way to the Pacific and its final destination of North Korea. Continue reading
Plutonium versus uranium: A very keen observation that many have failed to distinguish. Many forget that these are two variants that can help Iran achieve the same goal: Nuclear weapons. The Iranians know how to exploit the naïveté and continue to laugh off sanctions and diplomacy. As the article points out, the world might shortly find itself more concerned about how to contain the King of the South in the medium-term rather than halting it. Either way, whether it’s now, soon or later… war is eventually on the horizon.
Iran has two options: uranium or plutonium bombs.
The talks were fruitless. The Iranians are too far along to stop now. Look at the Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons in the past. No amount of sanctions can stop them. When Iran has stopped its work in the past it has only been temporary, or a flat-out lie. Europe was pushing Iran to stop centrifuge-based uranium enrichment back in 2003. The Iranians seemed compliant, yet they continued developing the technology, if not the enrichment. We are 10 years on and Iran has the technology. If it stops uranium enrichment, it will have another option, as it did back in 2003.
The heavy-water plant can be used to create plutonium. If Iran stops producing uranium, it can turn its attention to plutonium. Continue reading
“How long can a government with a $16,000 trillion foreign debt remain a world power?” he asked at a press conference with Kuwaiti media personnel. “The Americans have injected their paper wealth into the world economy and today the aftermaths and negative effects of their pseudo-wealth have plagued them.” Continue reading
A ‘Focal Point’ for Procurement
Iranian-German collaborations have a long history. For many years, companies like German engineering giant Siemens played an important role in the construction of the Iranian nuclear reactor in Bushehr. German mechanical engineering companies rank among the best in the world, and their products are highly coveted by engineers in Tehran. A recent confidential situation report by the German Customs Criminal Investigation Office (ZKA) said that Germany is a “focal point for Iran’s procurement activity” by Iran. The report went on to say that “preventing illegal exports” represents “a key challenge.”
Sales of banned high-tech products boost the Iranian nuclear program, but they also threaten the German government’s policy, which is largely relying on tight export restrictions to head off a war in the Middle East. The means “at our disposal to force Iran to be more transparent have not been exhausted,” says German Chancellor Angela Merkel, adding that “sanctions are at the top of the list here.”
Full article: Part 1: German Investigators Uncover Illegal Exports (Spiegel Online)
See also: Part 2: Valves from Germany (Spiegel Online)
OTTAWA — Despite repeated Harper-government boasting about imposing some of the toughest sanctions against Iran, newly released documents show that Canadian customs agents are stretched thin — and have been missing some shipments intended for Iran’s surreptitious nuclear program.
The documents raise questions about the effectiveness of Canadian sanctions — and whether efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring Canadian technology for its nuclear program are mere rhetoric given a lack of resources and personnel.
Canada and other Western allies have been steadily tightening sanctions against Iran in recent years over the country’s rampant human-rights abuses, ongoing support for terrorism and clandestine efforts to establish a nuclear program.
Its nuclear aspirations have been of particular concern because of fears it is trying to acquire a nuclear arsenal.
The sanctions include prohibitions on the export of anything that could help Iran acquire nuclear weapons, including goods used in the petrochemical, oil and gas industries, as well as items that could be used to build ballistic missiles.
The Canada Border Services Agency is responsible for enforcing those prohibitions — and according to the documents, obtained by researcher Ken Rubin, there have been some successes.
“These shipments were prohibited because they were to listed entities, involved prohibited (listed) goods, or involved prohibited (oil refining and gas liquefaction),” the paper reads. “Other seizes involve nuclear dual use goods.”
The paper states that Canada is a target for “clandestine and illicit procurement activity since it is a recognized leader in many high technology sectors, (including nuclear, aerospace, chemical, electronics).”
But the same paper also made it clear the border agency is facing extreme resource limitations in enforcing sanctions against not just Iran, but the more than a dozen other countries against which Canada has placed export and trade restrictions.
“The number of CBSA staff dedicated to export control are very limited (approximately 53 staff members),” the paper reads. “The number of export shipments that the dedicated export teams must target and examine is overwhelming (8,000 to 10,000 per day).”
The paper said because of these limitations, “most of the efforts of CBSA’s export control program are focused on Iran and known transshipment areas,” though nuclear procurement networks from Syria, China and Pakistan are also operating in Canada.
Meanwhile, a secret memo recently prepared for senior CBSA managers outlines the increasing complexities in monitoring and preventing the export of Canadian technology and goods to Iran for suspected use in its nuclear program.
“Although Iranian procurement networks have been identified as working in Canada,” the memo reads, “intercepting export shipments is becoming increasingly difficult as the networks adapt to the increased scrutiny and sanctions enforcement (by) using more transshipment points and circuitous routes to ship their exports.”
And officials admitted some suspect shipments have slipped past them.
“Despite the latest rounds of international and Canadian sanctions,” the memo reads, “Iranian procurement agents have still been able to export items, albeit with more difficulty, greater costs, but effective nevertheless.”
Even when shipments have been stopped or seized, the documents note that prosecution is extremely difficult, though they add that “success can also be considered when procurement efforts are disrupted and/or delayed.”
Full article: Canadian goods destined for Iran’s nuclear program slip through: Documents (o.Canada.com)
Bashar Assad’s victory over the 12-month uprising to unseat him is unquestioned. With massive Iranian and Russian intelligence and military support, the Syrian army was able to push the rebels out of the cities – barring isolated pockets in Homs and Idlib – and drive them to the rural periphery, where they can’t hold up for long.
One observer, describing their situation as “undergunned and overwhelmed,” reported that Syria’s rebels have to negotiate for hours for every box of bullets they haul across the border for their war against Assad. “And their frustration is starting to show.”
Tehran, Damascus and Hizballah are crowing over their success in derailing the Obama administration’s two-pronged policy for halting a nuclear Iran. It hinged on Tehran’s isolation by unraveling its alliance with Damascus and Hizballah and economic pressure through tough financial sanctions and an oil embargo.
Iran has come out of the woods firmly in position at the head of its bloc, now cemented by Assad’s defeat of his foes. Tehran’s hand is much strengthened for the coming nuclear talks between Iran and the Six Powers due to start in two weeks. Washington will have to pay for any Iranian concessions by starting the process of unwinding sanctions.
Full article: By securing Assad and its alliance, Iran gains upper hand for nuclear talks (DEBKAfile)