Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Jim Wurst: UN Sets Ground for Future Disarmament Battles

The UN General Assembly committee dealing with nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament issues ran a wait-and-see session in October 2008, with progress perhaps stymied by the upcoming presidential transition in the United States. The session, which ended four days before the U.S. election, debated and voted on 58 resolutions. Under the umbrella of nuclear disarmament, the committee usually considers numerous drafts on specific issues-such as operational status, security assurances, and nuclear-weapon-free zones-and three comprehensive, omnibus drafts each year.

Each session, countries or groups of countries present draft resolutions on a broad range of disarmament issues, including nuclear, biological, chemical, and space issues; conventional arms such as land mines and cluster munitions; as well as on the machinery by which the United Nations debates these issues, such as the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament (CD). After three weeks of debate on the issues and the drafts, each draft is considered with the goal, usually unrealized, of adopting resolutions by consensus. The majority of drafts on nuclear issues usually pass with large majorities.

Three omnibus drafts on nuclear disarmament were introduced in the Disarmament and International Security Committee, also known as the First Committee, by the New Agenda Coalition (NAC), the Nonaligned Movement (NAM), and Japan. There were slight changes in the language of previous years; nearly all of the additional phrases focused on the nuclear-weapon states' responsibility to eliminate their arsenals under the Article VI disarmament provisions of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

The NAC, comprised of Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and Sweden, continued its annual practice of presenting a draft reaffirming the international community's commitments to the NPT and the decisions taken by its nearly 190 states-parties at its once-every-five-years review conferences. In introducing the draft, Ambassador Leslie Gumbi of South Africa said, "The NAC continues to view these issues of nuclear disarmament and nuclear nonproliferation as being inextricably linked, and wishes to stress that both therefore require continuous and irreversible progress."

The text entitled "Towards a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World: Accelerating the Implementation of Nuclear Disarmament Commitments" had the most changes of the three omnibus drafts. Paragraphs were added elaborating on the responsibilities of states-parties to the NPT and the preferred outcome for the remainder of the current NPT review process. For the last two years, states-parties have been preparing for the next treaty review conference in 2010 and will hold their final preparatory session in April.

One addition, for example, calls on the nuclear-weapon states to "accelerate the implementation of the practical steps towards nuclear disarmament" agreed to at the 1995 Review and Extension Conference and the 2000 Review Conference. These measures, in particular the 13 practical steps agreed to in 2000 and a 1995 resolution calling for a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, have for the most part stalled. The 13 steps include negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT), which is stuck in the deadlocked CD, and cuts in strategic and nonstrategic nuclear weapons. More broadly, the United States and France have been walking back from the 2000 commitments, calling them out of date and "suggestions" rather than commitments. Another addition called on the 2009 preparatory committee meeting to "identify and address specific aspects where urgent progress is required" to reach a nuclear-weapon-free world.

The resolution spearheaded by Japan and a range of co-sponsors from developed (Canada, Germany, Switzerland) and developing (Chile, Paraguay) countries was entitled "Renewed Determination Towards the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons." It contained a few new elements that highlight the responsibilities of the nuclear-weapon states, in particular the United States and Russia. One calls on the nuclear powers to "undertake a transparent manner" and to increase transparency and confidence-building measures. Another addition calls on the United States and Russia to pursue "the conclusion of a legally binding successor" to START, which expires at the end of 2009. As usual, the bulk of the resolution focused on the range of treaty-based commitments by the nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states required for the elimination of nuclear weapons. It was less explicit than the NAC draft in calling for a nuclear-weapon-free world, which is one reason the Japanese text has traditionally gained greater support in the voting.

Although the votes were mostly on track with last year, the NAC resolution did show a bit more progress in swaying abstainers. The 2008 vote was 141 to five, with six abstentions; in 2007 the same five voted no (France, India, Israel, North Korea, and the United States), but 13 had abstained. The movement from abstention to yes this year came from Australia and some NATO countries, including Greece, Hungary, and Poland. There was also a slight shift on the Japan-led draft. In 2007, three countries voted no: India, North Korea, and the United States. This year, those three were joined by Israel. The abstentions shifted from 10 last year to six this year.

The third draft, the NAM comprehensive text on "Nuclear Disarmament," contained every nuclear disarmament initiative endorsed by the group of developing countries. These include no-first-use and de-alerting of nuclear weapons, the creation of an ad hoc committee on disarmament at the CD, the entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), the negotiation of a "non-discriminatory, multilateral...and verifiable" FMCT, and a halt to qualitative improvements in nuclear weapons. Similar to the other two, this year's version has a couple of additions, each designed to sharpen the focus on the elimination of nuclear weapons. The 2008 vote was 104 to 44 with 21 abstentions, following the pattern of last year. Because the NAM draft goes far beyond generally agreed treaty language, it has the least success in gathering positive votes.

The United States voted against all three resolutions. In explaining its vote against the NAC draft, the U.S. representative said that although Washington supports the NPT, the keystone to the NAC draft, it could not support some of the elements, so it voted no. The Bush administration has not supported U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and maintains that parts of the 1995 and 2000 NPT commitments have been superseded by events. China abstained on the "Renewed Determination" text while voting in favor of the other two, saying the draft has elements that were "not feasible in current circumstances," without elaborating on which elements were not feasible.

As much as a trend can be read into the debate, it is that the non-nuclear-weapon states are sharpening their argument ahead of the third and final preparatory session for the 2010 NPT Review Conference: that the success of the NPT cannot be separated from real progress in nuclear disarmament.

Last year, the most dynamic resolution was on the operational status of nuclear weapons. The key line "calls for further practical steps to be taken to decrease the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems, with a view to ensuring that all nuclear weapons are removed from high alert status." Co-sponsored by Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Sweden, and Switzerland, the text walks a fine line between calling for meaningful actions and not too greatly offending non-nuclear NATO countries. In its second year, there was little debate because the draft changed little. The vote was about the same as well. There were 134 yes votes and three votes against: France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. China and Russia abstained. In total, 32 countries abstained, largely NATO members and states applying for NATO membership. France, the United Kingdom, and the United States made a joint statement after the vote, saying they "disagree with the basic premise" of the resolution. They said their weapons "are subject to the most rigorous command and control systems" and "the relationship between alert levels and security is complex, and not reducible to such simple formulaic responses."
  • PR
  • Monday, December 29, 2008

    Cluster Munitions Convention Leaders Voted 2008 "Arms Control Persons of the Year"

    (Washington, D.C.) Norway's Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and his ministry's Director-General for Security Policy and the High North Steffen Kongstad garnered the highest number of votes in an online poll to determine the "2008 Arms Control Person of the Year." Nine other individuals and institutions were nominated by the Arms Control Association.
    Dissatisfied with the pace of global efforts to control the use of cluster munitions, Støre announced in 2006 that his country would convene an effort to create an international ban on the weapons. The Oslo process led to the negotiation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which 94 countries signed in December 2008. Kongstad led Norway's crossdepartmental effort and was added as an award recipient after many voters wrote in his name.
    "The Convention on Cluster Munitions is the most important new humanitarian arms control treaty of the still-young century and Norway's Støre and Kongstad deserve great praise for their leadership," said Jeff Abramson, conventional weapons analyst with the Arms Control Association.
    "Working with other countries and a dedicated coalition of civil society leaders and cluster munitions survivors, their actions spurred meaningful progress to bar indiscriminate weapons that have killed or maimed tens of thousands of noncombatants," Abramson added.
    Cluster munitions are bombs, rockets and artillery shells that release smaller submunitions over a broad area, often injuring civilians during conflict or afterwards when initially unexploded devices later detonate when disturbed. For more information on cluster munitions and the Convention on Cluster Munitions see
    "The purpose of the 'Arms Control Person of the Year' poll is to highlight the positive contributions of key figures around the globe in reducing the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons," said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.
    Other top vote-getters were the lead U.S. negotiator dealing with North Korea and a group of four former U.S. officials who have called for progress on moving toward a nuclear weapons free world.
    Christopher Hill, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, was nominated "for persistently maintaining a difficult dialogue with North Korea on steps leading to its eventual denuclearization, potentially preventing the resumption of its plutonium production for nuclear weapons."
    Former Secretaries of State George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry, and former Sen. Sam Nunn were included "for their catalytic January 2007 and 2008 op-eds in The Wall Street Journal calling for renewed U.S. leadership on practical steps 'toward a world free of nuclear weapons.'"
    The online poll was open between Dec. 16-28, 2008. For the list of all 2008 nominees, see
  • Tuesday, November 04, 2008

    Thursday, June 26, 2008

    Wikinews: US will remove 'terror' tag on North Korea

    Fulfilling a pledge of fairness, United States president George W. Bush announced Thursday that the United States will soon remove North Korea from a list of countries seen as 'sponsoring terrorism' in the world.

    The announcement was made as a 'reward' to North Korea for turning over all documents related to its controversial nuclear program. Pyongyang turned over to China documents related to its plutonium core and waste activities.
    Pyongyang finally turned over documents and plans of its nuclear enrichment facilities in Yongbyong.
    North Korean state television also announced that the state will televise the demolition of the cooling tower of the Yongbyong nuclear facilities on Friday.
    Mr. Bush called the North Korean action as a positive step with no illusions. He also said that the act truly pleased him and it's just the first step towards repairing North Korea's relation and status with the world community.
    The president added that in response to the act, he will lift the trade sanctions under the Trading With the Enemy Act.
    The White House will also inform the U.S. Congress that in 45 days, the State Department will remove North Korea from a list of nations that sponsor terrorism.
    The United States reminded North Korea that it still has some requirements to complete in order for the country to be completely removed from its diplomatic and economic isolation.
    Pyongyang remains obliged to answer questions such as the degree of its uranium enrichment and proliferation that possibly benefited Syria.
    The United Nations sanction sponsored by the United States issued on February 13, 2007 also demanded for a complete accounting of the alleged half a dozen units of nuclear bombs, the real number and its actual location.

    U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley downplayed any heightened expectations from North Korea and branded the latest act as a mere "stepping stone."
    Hadley warned that the process remains delicate and there will still be "definite consequences," if North Korea fails to fulfill its end of the bargain.
    Meanwhile, Japan expressed 'unease' over the decision of the United States to remove North Korea from the 'terror' list claiming that there is still a need to resolve issues about the kidnapping of Japanese nationals by agents of Pyongyang.

    Monday, June 23, 2008

    FAS: Cost of "War on Terror" Since 9/11

    "With enactment of the FY2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R.
    2764/P.L. 110-161) on December 26, 2007, Congress has approved a total of about
    $700 billion for military operations, base security, reconstruction, foreign aid,
    embassy costs, and veterans’ health care for the three operations initiated since the
    9/11 attacks: Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Afghanistan and other counter
    terror operations; ..."
    >> more >>

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008


    Armaments, Disarmament and International Security
    SIPRI’s annual compendium of data and analysis of developments in security and
    conflicts, military spending and armaments and non-proliferation, arms control
    and disarmament

    As shown in the new edition of the SIPRI Yearbook:
    • Armed conflicts are far more complex and intractable than is often thought and the traditional
    classification of conflicts is breaking down.
    • Military spending, arms production and international arms transfers are all on the rise:
     world military spending totalled $1339 billion in 2007, a real-terms increase of 6% since 2006;
     arms sales by the 100 largest arms-producing companies in 2006 increased by 8% in nominal
    terms over 2005;
     international transfers of major conventional weapons were 7% higher over the period 2003–
    2007 than in 2002–2006.
    • While 8 states possess almost 10 200 operational nuclear weapons, many arms control and nonproliferation
    agreements are faltering or making little progress.
    • Efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction—nuclear, biological or
    chemical—are increasingly focused on individuals and non-state groups, rather than states.
    In response to these challenges, there is growing urgency around the globe to bring new life and a
    mainstream momentum to arms control. There are new leaders in the UN, France, Germany, Japan,
    Russia, the UK and, from January 2009, the USA—who will find it politically possible to take
    concrete action on the arms control and disarmament front. Encouraging technological developments
    allow greater certainty in the monitoring and verification of arms control agreements.
    ‘The movement to reinvigorate arms control efforts must stake common ground across the political
    divides of right and left, “doves” and “hawks”, nationalists and internationalists, hope and fear,’ said
    Gill. A global consensus on arms control and disarmament must include both nuclear and non-nuclear
    weapon states and be supported by think tanks and other non-governmental organizations.
    ‘Voices from across the political spectrum are coming to recognize again the value of arms control in
    the face of looming threats to humankind,’ said Gill, ‘Although we face tremendous obstacles, a new
    window of opportunity is opening to realize constructive progress on arms control and disarmament. It
    is clearly in the interest of citizens and governments alike to take pragmatic and positive steps in the
    right direction.’

    In SIPRI Yearbook 2008, SIPRI reports that
    • There were 14 major armed conflicts in 2007. With the breakdown of the traditional classification
    of conflicts, new approaches to conflict resolution are needed. Violent groups should be integrated
    into political processes, not marginalized.
    • 61 peace operations were conducted in 2007, two more than in 2006 and the highest number
    since 1999, and the number of personnel deployed to such operations reached an all-time high of
    169 467. With this growth, the crucial pre-mission phase of a peace operation deployment is
    becoming more complex.
    • World military spending totalled $1339 billion in 2007, corresponding to 2.5% of world GDP and
    $202 per capita. This is a real-terms increase of 6% since 2006 and of 45% since 1998. The factors
    driving increases in world military spending include aspiration to global or regional power status,
    actual or potential conflicts, and the availability of economic resources.
    • Global arms production is increasing. Arms sales by the 100 largest arms-producing companies
    (the ‘SIPRI Top 100’) amounted to $315 billion in 2006, an increase of 8% in nominal terms over
    2005. US companies dominate the Top 100, both numerically and financially, with West European
    companies some way behind.
    • International transfers of major conventional weapons over the period 2003–2007 were 7%
    higher than in 2002–2006. The 5 largest arms suppliers for the period 2003–2007—the USA,
    Russia, Germany, France and the UK—accounted for about 80% of the volume of transfers.
    • Russia’s new-found self-confidence, supported by revenue from its natural resources, is allowing it
    to assert itself more on the international stage. However, Russia appears eager to maintain
    cooperative relations with the West and is unlikely to risk challenging it too forcefully.
    • The role of export controls in supporting the main multilateral non-proliferation treaties is now
    supplemented by the important role that they play in implementing decisions of the UN Security
    Council on particular countries (such as Iran or North Korea).
    • Experts widely agree that another influenza pandemic is on the horizon, jeopardizing global health
    and security.

    Friday, June 06, 2008

    When will the West answer Medvedev's proposals?

    MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Fedyashin) - While in Berlin, Dmitry Medvedev has made so many proposals to the West, that it would be very rude to turn them down. It will be interesting to see how long the West ponders over them and which it will accept.

    In brief, Medvedev suggested a pause on Kosovo, on NATO's extension (one more step to the East and relations with Russia will be spoilt once and for all), and on new U.S. missile defense elements in Europe. He said that the Russian views should not be tailored to the Western positions, that the UN and the OSCE should not be replaced with other forums, and proposed a universally binding international security agreement on the template of the Helsinki-2 accords.

    His proposals will not be accepted as a package, and the West is not likely to give a prompt reply. Moreover, many Europeans are impeded by a blinkered understanding of the recent change of power in Russia. They cannot see that Medvedev is Vladimir Putin's successor, rather than opponent.

    The new Russian president's first trip to the West was bound to attract comment, and Medvedev could not but be compared with his predecessor. This is only natural. But these comparisons were made against the background of Putin's speech in Munich on February 10, in which he outlined Russia's grievances. That speech scared the West quite a bit.

    Thus, on the eve of his first visit to Berlin, Medvedev was expected to show renewed "liberalism," "restraint," and "gentleness," all the features which Putin had lost by the time he gave his Munich speech (these are all statements from British, German, and American newspapers). It is difficult to say where the West got such "confidential information," not only about the contents of Medvedev's speech but also about his tone.

    Nor was it very well informed. Speaking before almost 700 German businessmen, politicians, and public figures, Medvedev set forth in detail the very same ideas Putin had so emotionally voiced in Munich. Indeed, it is difficult to find any differences between the two speeches. In Munich, Putin said "the use of force may be considered legitimate only if a decision is made by the United Nations, and the latter should not be replaced with either NATO, or the European Union (EU)." In Berlin, Medvedev spoke about "attempts to justify NATO's existence by 'globalizing' its mission, which infringes on the UN Security Council's prerogatives, and by inviting new members."

    Moreover, Putin said that "NATO's expansion is a serious provocation, which is reducing the level of mutual trust. It is fair for us to ask in plain terms - against whom is this expansion directed?" This sounds much more liberal than Medvedev's warning that if NATO expands any further, "relations with Russia will be spoilt once and for all," and "the price of this will be high."

    Putin said that Russia has "the privilege to conduct an independent foreign policy." Medvedev recalled that "our approaches should not be tailored to Western positions," and that we "are seeking truly equitable relations and nothing more than that."

    One gets the impression that though many people understand that the era of "Yeltsin's mellowness" has gone for good, they cannot - or will not - accept it. They are trying to subject Russia to some kind of a check-up, to find out who it will make friends with and who it will oppose.

    These people seem to think that Winston Churchill's dictum that Britain has neither friends nor enemies, but interests, should not apply to anyone but Britain, the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Australia or Canada. They forget that no country has a monopoly on pragmatism.

    The business part of the meeting went without a hitch. After all, Germany and Russia enjoy a special relationship going back as far as Peter the Great. For centuries the two countries have had an unwritten agreement under which Germany helps Russia with technologies in exchange for access to its mineral riches. Today, that relationship is as strong as ever. Germany is Europe's biggest consumer of Russian energy, and Russia has always been its most reliable supplier. Today, oil and gas amount to 70% of Russian exports to Germany. Metals and alloys account for another 15%, and timber comes next. Ninety percent of German exports to Russia are machines and equipment, metal ware, chemicals, and electrical equipment.

    Asked by a German newspaper what advice he would give to Frau Merkel at the talks with Medvedev, Andreas Schockenhoff, Germany's envoy on German-Russian relations, replied that he would suggest inviting the Russian president to attend the annual security conference in Munich, which is traditionally held in February.

    That is a good idea. Medvedev has had his say. Maybe in Munich the Europeans will give him their answer.

    The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

    Thursday, June 05, 2008

    Russian president calls for binding European security treaty

    BERLIN, June 5 (RIA Novosti) -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called on Thursday for a legally binding European security treaty to be signed at an all-European conference.
    "I am convinced that without addressing all of our concerns in a frank and fair way we will be unable to make any headway in building a Greater Europe," he said, speaking in Berlin after talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel during his first European trip since being sworn into office on May 7
    He also added that "organizations operating in the Euro-Atlantic region" could also join it.
    He said a new security arrangement should be based on "pure" national interests, not skewed by ideological motives.
    The president also said that without cuts in military spending it would be impossible to raise sufficient resources to deal with such global challenges as climate change, illegal migration, and global poverty.
    He also said that NATO's further eastward expansion would harm the bloc's relations with Russia, but there would be no confrontation.
    Medvedev urged NATO to halt its enlargement and missile defense plans in Europe, adding that it was critical to break the vicious circle of unilateral actions.
    He also said earlier on Thursday that Russia was alarmed by "narrowing trends of mutual understanding in Euro-Atlantic policies."

    Russia and the EU are to start talks on a new wide-reaching strategic partnership agreement at a summit later this month.

    Wednesday, June 04, 2008

    10 arguments against the US radar

    Infos from
    1. There is no substantial difference between a radar base and a missile base. They are two integral parts of the same system and they can’t be separated either technically or politically. The whole system can be used both in defense and in offense.
    2. If our country plays host to this extraordinarily powerful and technically advanced U.S. radar base, we will become a tool of the unilateral U.S. foreign policy, which is aimed at military hegemony and the so-called war against terrorism. This war has thusfar succeeded only in increasing terrorism, destroying Iraq, destabilizing the region and giving rise to the prisons at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.
    3. Our membership in NATO places no obligation on us to accept the radar base. The construction of the radar base is a unilateral action of the United States.
    4. The base will not make us more secure. On the contrary, it will place us in greater danger. At the present time, the Czech Republic has no enemies among states. And missiles and radars are not effective in combatting terrorism.
    5. Just as in the case of a missile base, the Czech Republic would have no say in what happens at a U.S. radar base on our soil or what would truly be installed there. The base would be completely under the control of U.S. Air Command in Europe.
    6. Such a base whether with radar or missiles will increase international tension, particularly in relation to Russia, and intensify an international arms race, which could spark a serious conflict.
    7. Such a base is a potential target for attack. In the event of a conflict between states which own medium-range ballistic missiles, a radar base would be a first priority target.
    8. The construction of more bases threatens to spark new cycles of armament around the world. In developing countries, this results in the deepening of poverty for already desperate populations. In Europe, it could mean the end of state ensurance of social security.
    9. The effects of such a high-power radar system on nearby residents are not known. The only similar systems are located in remote and unpopulated areas.
    10. Effective defense against the threats of terrorism and war requires a decrease in international tension. New bases, which increase tension, will certainly not help in this regard.

    Tuesday, June 03, 2008

    Barack Obama effectively clinches Democratic nomination

    Barack Obama has reportedly achieved enough Democratic Party delegates to clinch the Democratic nomination to become the Presidential candidate to face Republican Senator John McCain in the November 2008 United States elections. Obama will be the first black candidate ever to stand for the United States presidency with the backing of a major political party.

    While Obama needed another 40 primary delegates coming into Tuesday's final two primaries to secure the nomination with the required 2,118 total, he was considered to be likely to achieve this through the primaries in Montana and South Dakota. However, due to the superdelegates that have gone in favor of Obama, he has achieved the needed count ahead of today's primaries. According to two anonymous Clinton campaign officials, the New York Senator believed that Obama, the junior Senator from Illinois, had done enough to win the Democratic nomination.

    Hillary Clinton's campaign has denied reports that she will concede the Democratic Party of the United States primary campaign to Barack Obama during a speech tonight in New York City.

    The Associated Press first reported that two campaign officials stated she would announce her concession tonight. In a statement to the press, Clinton's campaign commented in two sentences: "The AP story is incorrect. Senator Clinton will not concede the nomination this evening."

    Interviewed on CNN today, Clinton's campaign manager Terry McAuliffe called reports of concession "100 percent incorrect," but stated on NBC's Today that once Obama reached the crucial delegate count of 2,118, Clinton would congratulate him and "call him the nominee". She also told NBC that, "until someone has that magic number, we're going to continue to fight for literally those 17.5 million people."

    On Monday, former President Bill Clinton was quoted as saying that "this may be the last day I'm ever involved in a campaign of this kind. I thought I was out of politics, till Hillary decided to run. But it has been one of the greatest honors of my life to be able to go around and campaign for her for president." President Clinton's aides later downplayed the statement.

    The decision not to terminate Clinton's campaign officially was observed to give her a bargaining and leverage tool with Obama on various matters, up to and including the possibility of Clinton being Obama's vice presidential candidate. Speaking on conditions of anonymity, a Clinton campaign official stated that all Clinton campaign staff would be paid through June 15.

    Called the "comeback kid" for her ability to come from behind to win states when the primary campaign showed Obama beginning to take both delegate and popularity leads, Clinton had campaigned late into Monday night for the chance of still taking a final come-from-behind victory in the final two primary elections. But today, Obama took the nomination ahead of the time frame analysts had predicted.

    The Barack Obama campaign website has reported that there are 31.5 more delegates required before Obama receives the nomination.

    A news report released by the Boston Globe has claimed that the Clinton Campaign is indicating that "she [Clinton] will gracefully exit the stage and won't take her fight to the convention." Sources close to Clinton hinted that if asked, she would be willing to serve as Obama's running mate. +wikinews+

    Human rights group alleges U.S. prison ships

    The British branch of human rights organization Reprieve has accused the United States government of using naval military ships to detain in secret and interrogate alleged terror suspects. The United States swiftly denied the allegations. Clive Stafford Smith, founder and director of Reprieve, said, "the U.S. administration chooses ships to try to keep their misconduct as far as possible from the prying eyes of the media and lawyers."

    According to Reprieve, prisoners such as the Australian David Hicks, and the American John Walker Lindh were imprisoned on naval ships stationed off the coasts of both Somalia and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Reprieve also noted that "prisoners have been interrogated under torturous conditions before being rendered to other, often undisclosed locations."

    According to the United States Navy, some ships have been used for short term prisoner housing, but denied they were prisons. "We do not operate detention facilities on board Navy ships. Department of Defense detention facilities are in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay." said Navy Commander Jeffrey D. Gordon from the Pentagon. Gordon did acknowledge that it was a matter of public record that some individuals had been put onto the ships in question "for a few days", in what he labelled the 'initial days of detention'.

    Among the United States ships named by Reprieve as having served as prison ships were the USS Peleliu and the USS Bataan, both of which are amphibious assault ships. Also named was the USS Ashland, a dock landing ship. Reprieve stated that its assessment was based on evidence from sources in the U.S. military, the Council of Europe and from testimony received from former detainees at the the U.S. prison camps in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    On Monday, Reprieve said it would publish details of its research later this year, in a full report on the alleged activities of the U.S. military. The organization went on to claim that the United States was imprisoning as many as 26,000 foreign detainees in secret prison facilities, including land-based prisons. Gordon was quoted as calling Reprieve's comments "inaccurate and misleading." +wikinews+

    Monday, June 02, 2008

    Artic Robbery

    Denmark, Canada, Norway, Russia, and the United States met there on May 27-29 to discuss a legal division of the Arctic.

    Territory extension without permission from the United Nations is not legal. And without legitimacy.

    Saturday, May 31, 2008

    Russian Announcement of Intention to Send More Military Forces into Abkhazia

    Press Statement Sean McCormack, Spokesman
    Washington, DC May 31, 2008

    The United States is dismayed by Russia's Defense Ministry announcement on May 31 that it intends to send more military forces, including railroad construction troops, into the Georgian region of Abkhazia without the consent of the Georgian Government. This announcement is particularly difficult to understand in light of Georgia's forthcoming statement at the UN Security Council on May 30 that it was suspending UAV flights over Abkhazia, as well as the constructive efforts by President Saakashvili and others to invigorate the Abkhazia peace process. We have expressed our concerns to the Russian government and are in touch with the Georgian government about this latest announcement of a Russian military buildup.

    Friday, May 30, 2008


    The following statement concerning the adoption of the Convention on cluster munitions was issued today by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

    The Secretary-General is delighted that the strong calls to address the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions have been answered with the adoption today of this new Convention. He welcomes this successful outcome of the Dublin Diplomatic Conference and congratulates everyone who contributed to the process.

    A broad-based coalition of States, international organizations and civil society has brought about a new international standard that will enhance the protection of civilians, strengthen human rights and improve prospects for development.

    The United Nations will provide its full support and is ready to assist in the implementation of the responsibilities under this Convention. The Secretary-General has accepted depositary functions under the Convention, which he urges all States to sign and ratify without delay, and he looks forward to its rapid entry into force.

    Sunday, May 04, 2008

    Secretary Rice and Palestinian President Abbas

    Joint Press Availability with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
    Secretary Condoleezza Rice
    May 4, 2008

    View >> Video

    PRESIDENT ABBAS: In the name of God the Merciful and the Compassionate, I welcome Dr. Rice and I thank her for her commitment to exert all efforts and utmost efforts to make the year 2008 the year of peace and for her relentless efforts and persistence to transform the vision of President Bush from a vision into a clear, political and peace track.

    Today we talked in depth with Dr. Rice about all issues, the final status issues, Jerusalem, settlements, refugees, water and prisoners. And we reiterated that the Roadmap and the Arab Peace Initiative and the vision of President Bush and all international resolutions form the basis for the solution of these cases in order to end occupation -- Israeli occupation that started in 1967, and the establishment of a Palestinian state, an independent state, and Jerusalem as its capital alongside the State of Israel.

    We reiterated today to Dr. Rice the need for Israel to abide by and the need to freeze all settlement activities including natural growth activities and to remove all illegal settlement posts. And this is what the Quartet has called for as well as the opening of Jerusalem based institutions and to return to the situation as it was before the 20th of September 2000 and the release of the prisoners, the lifting of the checkpoints. And all of these are issues that are part of the first phase of the Roadmap.

    And in this occasion we salute the decision by the Quartet that was issued two days ago about settlements and settlement posts -- outposts, as well as Dr. Rice’s statements on this issue. In our turn, we reaffirm our commitment to the rule of law and the one weapon and one authority, and we thank the U.S., the EU and the Arab countries for all their support in this field.

    And I mention this because yesterday we saw that the Palestinian security forces were deployed in Jenin and after Annapolis, and after that we hope to redeploy our forces in all other areas in the West Bank. And we reiterate for everyone that the weapon will only be a unified weapon, and there will be no legitimate weapon and arms except under the authority. And anyone who violates this will be held accountable and will be pursued. And we will not allow anyone to obstruct the security forces, the Palestinian security forces from undertaking their duties and tasks.

    As on the Gaza Strip, we reiterate and we support the efforts exerted by Egypt for a truce. And we have called for that several times and repeatedly in order to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and lift the siege, and in order to provide the people with the basic needs as well as water and electricity.

    On this occasion we reiterate the need to stress that Gaza and the West Bank are one unified entity. And, therefore, we call up on Hamas to withdraw back from its coup and to accept immediately -- and we are ready for that, to accept the calling for immediate Presidential and legislative elections and, therefore, we repeat our -- what we mentioned earlier, that we are ready to go for early Presidential and legislative elections.

    We confirm our commitment to the Peace process and our continuous efforts and negotiations, particularly with the Israeli side. Tomorrow I will meet with Prime Minister Olmert as well as Abu Alaa will be meeting with the Secretary of State, Israeli Minister Tzipi Livni and to discuss negotiations as well as discuss daily issues, which are also important, that we need to follow up on.

    I point out to the London conference also, and I thank all the countries that have reaffirmed their commitment to support the Palestinian National Authority. And we noticed that the fruits of this support has started to be felt on the grounds at the security level or at the economic level as well. And we look forward positively and with hope to the Investment Conference in Bethlehem that will be held soon this month.

    And thank you again. We welcome you again, and we thank you Dr. Rice. And we welcome you here in Ramallah.

    SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much, Mr. President. And thank you for welcoming me yet again to Ramallah for our very important discussions about how to move the Annapolis process forward on all three tracks, first of all, the improvement of life for Palestinians and their daily lives. I had a very good discussion this morning with Prime Minister Fayyad and with Defense Minister Barak about the efforts that are being made in places like Jenin. And I congratulate you on the deployment of Palestinian security forces there. For the people of Jenin to be able to experience a secure environment and for the people of Jenin who recognize that the authority of the Palestinian -- you and the Palestinian Government of Prime Minister Fayyad are indeed in Jenin and providing them that security. We hope, of course, to continue to improve the opportunities around the West Bank for people to have economic opportunity in a secure environment.

    We also talked about the Roadmap obligations. And I think that the work that General Fraser is doing, which is very systematic in helping us not just to track whether Roadmap obligations are being met but whether or not there is a real effect on the lives of people from, for instance, movement and access improvements that are being made. And so we’re trying not just at quantity but also quality of improvements. And I've had a chance to talk with you and your team about that, but I expect to be in constant discussion with the Israelis and with you about Roadmap obligations.

    We’ve also had an opportunity to talk about the situation in the negotiations. I'll meet later on with your chief negotiator, Abu Alaa, and Prime Minister Tzipi Livni in Israel. The last time that we had a chance to meet, I was impressed with the seriousness, with the depth of their discussions. I think it is a good thing that they are not in front of the cameras every day to say what was said, because any negotiation that is going to be held in good faith is, by its very nature, going to be something that is confidential so that sides can -- the sides can share their views and their ideas in an atmosphere of trust and confidentiality.

    But I think it’s also important that it be understood that these are the first really serious discussions on all of the core issues that have taken place between the parties for almost seven years. This is very painstaking work. It is labor intensive work. But it is necessary work, because the President -- President Bush believes very strongly that the time has come for the establishment of a Palestinian state, subject of course to Roadmap implementation. But that is why we’re working so hard on the Roadmap simultaneously with the negotiations. And we continue to believe that it is an achievable goal to have an agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis by the end of the year and by the end of President Bush’s term.

    So thank you again, Mr. President, for having me here. I want to say that the meetings in London were very good meetings. You have the support of the international community. That is very clear. And you have the support of the American administration and, indeed, the American people. Thank you.

    QUESTION: Dr. Rice, I'm from Palestinian TV. I arrived two hours ago from Jenin and the checkpoints are unbearable. From Jenin to Ramallah there are thousands of vehicles waiting at checkpoints, and it is very tragic on the route from Jenin to Ramallah. And this has been very difficult to come here. The Presidency -- the term of President Bush is coming to an end, and until now we do not see that the peace agreement is being realized. And the settlement activities is one of the most important things that we need to see frozen. What do you think about that?

    President Abbas, do you think that peace agreement is possible for the year 2008? And is there really any progress made on negotiations?

    SECRETARY RICE: On checkpoints, I think I mentioned that one of the things that we’re looking at is how to look at the qualitative impact of certain improvements to movement and access not just the quantitative decision to remove this or remove that. And I do know that there are efforts particularly given the focus on Jenin for (inaudible) security forces and for economic progress there to look in an integrative fashion at issues of checkpoints and movement and access, and I believe that General Fraser will be raising those issues, as well as Tony Blair when he here, as to how to improve movement and access in Jenin, which is a project in the sense that we’d like to improve the general situation in Jenin but is no means the last place that movement and access and economic progress has to be made.

    As to settlements, the United States continues to hold with you that settlement activity is contrary to Roadmap obligations and continues to raise with the Israelis the importance of creating an atmosphere that is conducive to negotiations of the final status agreement. And that means doing nothing, certainly, that would suggest that there is any prejudice of the final terms for final status negotiation. And the United States will consider nothing that is done to have prejudiced the final status negotiations. The best way to handle all of this, of course, is to get an agreement because we need to have a Palestinian state and Israeli state. We need to know what belongs in each of them. And then the parties, the two states, can pick up state-to-state relations, which is what we’re all aiming for by the end of the year.

    PRESIDENT ABBAS: We are racing with time in our negotiations. It’s like marathon negotiations. We know that the time is very short, but the negotiations that we are conducting are almost on a daily basis, almost on an hourly basis whether with the Israeli side or, as you've noticed, mostly with the American administration because everybody is showing a serious commitment towards that.

    If we did not have hope that we would achieve something for our people and for the region, we would not have exerted any efforts, because then the efforts would be wasted. But we have hope and we hope that we will achieve what we aspire to as soon as possible during this year.

    QUESTION: Yes, a question for both of you, please. For Secretary Rice, did you raise the qualitative nature of roadblocks in any of your discussions with Prime Minister Olmert and Defense Minister Barak?

    And to President Abbas, do you think the United States is doing enough on the roadblock issue and also on the wider issue of settlements to lean on the Israelis to abide by their obligations?

    SECRETARY RICE: Ann, I raised the issue of qualitative improvements not just quantitative metrics with both, and I have had since a discussion of it with Defense Minister Barak because, of course, a lot of this falls in his area of responsibility.

    And as to the question of what we will be able to do to address these qualitative issues, I think that this agreement, that we’d go back and take a look at ways to really have a clear sense of what the qualitative effect is, that is the significance of any improvement and movement – on movement and access -- for the lives of Palestinian people. So yes, I raised it in both of the earlier (inaudible) discussions with Defense Minister Barak.

    QUESTION: (Off-mike)

    SECRETARY RICE: He’s agreed to -- it was the first time that I had raised this issue, and so it will be now a discussion as to how to carry out that concern or how to address that concern.

    PRESIDENT ABBAS: We are convinced that the American administration is very serious in its efforts. And the evidence to that is that the American administration has given us three generals to discuss security issues only, in addition to the other senior officials that are engaged in this process under the auspices of the Secretary of State and President Bush. And if this indicates anything, it indicates seriousness, complete seriousness because the U.S. wants to see a resolution by the end of this year. And these efforts that are being exerted are only indications and real indications of this commitment.

    QUESTION: Mr. President, you’ve said in the past that until now there was not one single letter written in an agreement that you're trying to reach with the Israelis. Six months have elapsed and, until now, we have nothing in writing. Do you believe that in the next six months a chapter will be returned in this agreement? I do not know how you view this. Are you worried? Are you anxious about the lack of progress in this area?

    Madame Secretary, you just came out of a meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Barak concerning the checkpoints that, according to the Palestinians, are very irritating. I know part of this question was asked, but I didn’t get an answer from you. Is there any promise from the Israeli side to lift any checkpoint, especially the key checkpoints that are basically suffocating the Palestinian life?

    And concerning the expansion of the joint settlements, do you have any promise from the Israelis about they would agree to their Roadmap obligations when it comes to settlement activities? Thank you.

    SECRETARY RICE: It is my intention to continue to raise Roadmap obligations until the parties have met them. And there are Roadmap obligations on the Palestinian side as well that I've raised to see if we can move those along. But I understand that the settlements are a problem. That's why in American policy it has been called out as particularly problematic for the atmosphere of the trust that is needed to move forward on a whole host of issues. So, yes, I've spent a good deal of time on that issue.

    And in terms of checkpoints and any specific checkpoint, this is why I've raised the question or we’re raising the question of really looking at the qualitative impact. Could you have a better result by some particular easing at a particular checkpoint? How much really do roadblocks relating to easing? And of course, then taking into account the variable security dimension of this for the Israelis.

    So I think it is fair to say that there are real security issues involved here. And so with the combination of improved Palestinian security forces, and I think we will see in Jenin, it’s not without a lot of work on everybody’s part, first and foremost the Palestinian government under President Abbas but also international help, American assistance, the training that the Jordanians have provided by improving Palestinian security forces, by improving movement and access in ways that actually then relate to economic commercial activity, can you really make a major dent, a major impact on how the West Bank operates. That’s really what we are doing.

    Look, we are trying to come back from a six-and-a-half almost seven year period from the time the day the Intifada began to now to try to not just improve life on the West Bank but to begin to return it to something that approximates a normal life for the Palestinian people. And it takes some time to deal with the effects of the Intifada, but a lot of it has to do with responsible actions by the Palestinian government and the Palestinian Authority which are really now place. And because of that, I think you are going to see improvements on the West Bank. The Israelis will also really have to do their part.

    PRESIDENT ABBAS: We said that was true, that I said not one single letter has been written yet. But all the core issues are being discussed and negotiated in depth and in very clear details. I don’t think that we -- if we find a solution, if we come to an agreement, we will not need six months to write it. If we are thinking about drafting an agreement, then we will have completed 90 percent of the negotiations and, thus, the drafting of the agreement will not be difficult. The most important thing is to reach the agreement in order to draft the agreement itself.

    QUESTION: Madame Secretary, we’ve heard a lot about the issues that you are raising with the Israelis in terms of their commitments when it comes to the Roadmap obligations from the settlements, to roadblocks, etc. What are you raising with the Palestinians? Because it does make it sound like the Palestinians are doing their end of the bargain and that the pressure is mostly on the Israelis? Is that a correct assessment?

    SECRETARY RICE: No. In fact, I've said before there is work to do on both sides. We talked, for instance, about -- if you remember in the Roadmap there are certain obligations about the consolidation of security forces and their proper training and their proper direction. There are some issues that have to be dealt with in terms of the proper staffing of the command and planning elements that will help the Palestinian security forces to be really capable. There are some lists that I've heard Palestinians have asked for certain kinds of equipment, but then there are certain lists that have not been passed over.

    I mean, this is pretty nitty-gritty work to be quite fair. And there are obligations that need to be met on both sides. And I've found both Prime Minister Fayyad and Defense Minister Barak very willing to look at where there may be bottlenecks in the two bureaucracies to getting some things done. They may sometimes sound like minor issues when we actually go through the lists, but I can assure you that these bottlenecks or the roadblocks make it difficult to keep moving forward. And so there are obligations that we’ve discussed on both sides.

    QUESTION: Actually, I still have a question for President Abbas on -- you say that -- you said before that an agreement can be reached perhaps in the next few months before the end of the year. But short of actually reaching the agreement, what else can be qualified as a success if you don’t actually reach this agreement?

    PRESIDENT ABBAS: We want to reach an agreement. We want to achieve success. We need full agreement. This is the intention of all the relevant and concerned parties whether on the Palestinian side or the Israeli side or the American side and the Europeans. The intent is to reach an agreement for all the core issues, and this is what we want. If we cannot achieve that, then we should think of the steps that we should take. We do not want from now to think about failure. We do not want to set up ourselves for failure. We let us focus on success. And if we fail, then we go back to our leadership, to the people and see what next steps could be taken.

    Released on May 4, 2008

    Saturday, May 03, 2008

    Wednesday, April 30, 2008

    Condoleezza Rice about Middle East

    Remarks at Opening Dinner of the 102nd Annual Meeting of the American Jewish Committee
    Secretary Condoleezza Rice
    Capital Hilton
    Washington, DC
    April 29, 2008

    SECRETARY RICE: Thank you, very much. Well, first of all, thank you, Richard Sideman, for that really elegant and wonderful introduction, very touching introduction. And I want to thank you for your leadership of this proud and great organization.

    For more than a century, the American Jewish Committee has been a tireless advocate for tolerance, for pluralism, and for respect for human dignity. You have defended these values – the values of your community – against bigotry and against anti-Semitism. And you have promoted these values by fostering dialogue and understanding peoples of all faiths.

    So I want to commend the American Jewish Committee for your long, distinguished role in strengthening the foundations of American life. You have helped this nation, our nation, to lift itself a little closer to those great and enduring ideals for which we strive so mightily. I want to thank you for that.

    Since 1948, the American Jewish Committee has also worked to strengthen the common bonds we share with the citizens of Israel, and it is an honor to be with you tonight in commemorating the 60th anniversary of Israel’s founding. (Applause.) President Bush and I will be going to Jerusalem next month to participate in Israel’s official celebration, and I can tell you that it is a trip that I am really looking forward to personally.

    Honored members of the diplomatic corps, members of the Israeli Government and parliament, ladies and gentlemen:

    America’s commitment to Israel is unwavering, but let us not forget that 60 years ago, the issue was still very open to debate. On May 12, 1948, President Truman summoned his chief advisors into the Oval Office. The administration was divided, and the mood was tense. At one point, Truman’s secretary of state told him that he would vote against him in the upcoming election if he backed the creation of Israel. Now I've said a lot of candid things to President Bush -- (laughter) -- that's not one of them.

    But two days later, the decision was made. David Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s independence in Tel Aviv. And eleven minutes later -- eleven minutes later, the United States of America became the first nation in the world to recognize the Jewish state of Israel. (Applause.)

    For 60 years now, American administrations – Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative – have differed over many, many things, but one thing unites our government: We are committed to the freedom, the well-being, and the security of our democratic ally, Israel.

    I still remember my first time visiting Israel: It felt like coming home to a place that I had never been. And every time I return, and as I look upon the land where Israelis have made the desert literally bloom, and as I drive past the aging hulks of Israeli tanks, which recall the dear cost that generations of Israeli patriots have paid for their nation’s survival, as I see all of these things, it is clear to me that a confident Israel can achieve things that many think impossible.

    Confidence defines Israel’s pioneer spirit, but I know how Israel’s confidence is tested day in and day out when it comes to issues of security. I remember all-too-well the awful days of 2001 and 2002, when Israelis feared that every bus ride, every night out, was another Passover massacre waiting to happen. And I know the heartbreak and the anger that all Israelis feel as they watch today the terror of rockets raining down on towns like Sderot and Ashkelon.

    Many times, as I fly into Israel, and it has been many times, I think of a story that President Bush tells. This was before he became president, and it was on a visit to Israel, and he was taken up in a helicopter to see the country from above. He talks about how he looked out on a people so resolute and yet a country so vulnerable and he decided then and there that America’s enduring commitment to Israel’s security would be absolutely unshakeable on his watch. And I think we have kept that promise. (Applause.)

    When Israel was besieged by terror in 2001 and 2002, it was the United States that insisted that Israel had the right to defend itself. When people used to say, and we now forget that they did, “Well, you see, one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter”, it was the United States that said: No, that is wrong. No, the intentional murder of innocent people is wrong, and you cannot hug Hezbollah and Hamas and say that you are fighting al-Qaida.

    And when the president of Iran proclaimed his desire to, quote, “wipe Israel off the map”, it was the United States that arranged a $30 billion security package to help Israel defend its homeland against any threat. (Applause.)

    Now, we are in another phase. And let me be very clear, we have a vital interest in peace between Israelis and Palestinians. But I want also to be very clear about the following: We will defend against any action, as we always have, that would compromise Israel’s security.

    Our commitment to Israel’s security has given Israel the confidence to work with us and with responsible Palestinians, and with friends in the region, to begin creating real conditions for peace. Israel has a long and venerable tradition of holding itself to the highest standards of justice, and of working magnanimously to seize any opportunity to live in peace with its neighbors.

    This may be such a moment. There's an opportunity now to advance the historic and long-held aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians. This will require difficult, painful sacrifices, by both sides. But these are choices that Israel can and should make confidently. Israel can be bold in the pursuit of peace – for America is fully behind her, and fully committed to her security.

    Now, I do not deny that there are deeply troubling events and situations in the region. The situation in Gaza, for instance, is a horror. The situation in Gaza brought on by Hamas, that holds the Palestinian people hostage in that land, and the hope and dreams of decent Palestinian people hostage with them. A Hamas that uses Gaza as a firing ground against decent and innocent Israeli citizens, so certainly, it is a time of trouble. And I don't deny that Gaza and other situations make the present moment complicating and -- complicated and challenging. But when, ladies and gentlemen, has the Middle East ever been uncomplicated and unchallenging?

    I believe that we have a chance now to reach agreement this year on the basic contours of a peaceful Palestinian state subject to the fulfillment of Roadmap obligations. My confidence in this is not blind optimism or willful naiveté. We’ve been through too much for that to be the case. It is based instead on my firm belief that we have the right vision for ending this conflict. We are supporting reasonable and responsible Palestinians in an unprecedented effort to realign their society around the values of non-violence. And a new democratic spirit is enabling them to do it.

    Violent extremists, you see, can no longer hide in the shadows, destroying all prospects for peace without beginning to bear consequences for their actions. They are being forced and will be forced to make fundamental choices they have refused to make. That choice is very clear: Either you are a terrorist group, or you are a political party – but you cannot be both. (Applause.)

    Unfortunately, until now, Hamas is making its choice, and it is choosing violence. They are refusing to renounce violence, refusing to recognize Israel’s right to exist, and refusing to respect all previous Palestinian agreements with Israel. But perhaps of deepest concern, the leaders of Hamas are increasingly serving as the proxy warriors of an Iranian regime that is destabilizing the region, seeking a nuclear capability, and proclaiming its desire to destroy Israel.

    The problem here is not a failure to communicate. It’s not a failure to talk. Indeed, how can any government negotiate with a group that sees every agreement, every truce, not as a compromise to advance peace, but as a tactic to later advance war? No, the only responsible policy is to isolate Hamas and defend against its threats, until Hamas makes the choice that supports peace.

    We are on the right course. What America and Israel need now is will and courage – both in our national defense, and at the negotiating table – to advance our vision of peace in the face of violent enemies. The legitimate Palestinian government of Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad has the will to fight terrorism. I believe that they have the desire to govern effectively. But they do not yet have the capability, and these responsible leaders deserve our support. They need also the support of the international community. And frankly, they need most the support of their fellow Arabs, who must show Israel – now, not later – that they believe that it has a rightful place in the Middle East.

    Ladies and Gentlemen: This is a trying time. But it is no time to despair. This is a time for bold and courageous leadership.

    I was very honored and, indeed, very privileged to know Ariel Sharon, a man who loved Israel deep, deep into his soul. I’ve had the privilege of working with his successor, Ehud Olmert, who is a great leader for Israel. And as I’ve worked with these leaders, I recognized that the love for Israel runs very, very deep. But Ariel Sharon was a special kind of person, and I once visited his farm. You know the famous farm. And he said to me, “I want to introduce you to my sheep.” (Laughter.) I said, “Fine,” and we went out and we met his sheep. I am from the city. I had never seen a sheep up close and personal. (Laughter.)

    A few days before he was stricken, we were talking on the phone about something, and he said to me, “How are you doing?” And I said, “Fine. How are your sheep?” He said, “They miss you.” (Laughter.) Somehow, I thought, all right, that’s a true friend. (Laughter.)

    But it reminded me, too, of another time that we talked. And it was just before Israel’s disengagement from Gaza, and he told me that he gone out to talk with Israeli settlers in Gaza. And of course, he was the father of that movement. He went to one family and he explained to them why it was important to share the land. And this man said, “Let me show you something.” And he showed Sharon the mezuzah above their house, and he told Sharon, “You personally put that mezuzah there. You personally told us that it was good for the state of Israel for us to settle here, and now you tell me that we have to leave for the good of the state of Israel.” He was deeply pained by that, I have no doubt. I could see it even as he told the story. But that is what great leaders do: They make hard decisions confidently for the sake of peace and for the sake of their people.

    Difficult decisions are coming. Difficult decisions will have to be made. But Israelis have waited too long for the security they desire and they deserve. Palestinians, quite frankly, have waited too long for the dignity of an independent state. And we have all waited long enough for peace. So let us hope and pray that we will wait no longer. Let us secure for all time, what David Ben-Gurion called, and I quote, “the legacy of a small nation, which has endured great sufferings and tribulations, but which is, nevertheless, great and eternal in spirit, vision, faith and virtue.”

    Thank you very much. (Applause.)

    MODERATOR: First let me say thank you, Madame Secretary, for such a thoughtful and moving address. You have moved us all and you have given us much to think about, and our hopes and prayers go with you as you continue on your labors.

    I should tell you now that the Secretary has agreed to answer some questions and, consequently, I’m going to be calling on people to ask such questions. If I can see them, I’ll try.

    Harold. Harold Tanner.

    QUESTION: I’m looking for the microphone, but I can’t see it. My voice carries but (inaudible.)

    MODERATOR: I’ll repeat it, Harold, in case there’s a question. Okay.

    QUESTION: Madame Secretary, (inaudible) there was an interview with former President Carter expressing a difference of opinion with you about what was said about his trip to the Middle East. Do you care to comment on that?

    SECRETARY RICE: Harold, before I do, I want to recognize somebody who has just come in, if you don’t mind. I see Annette Lantos here. (Applause.) Tom’s great partner in life. We miss him, Annette, but I want to just tell you a little story. I wrote Annette and Charity, her granddaughter, a card about it.

    Tom gave me a plant when I was National Security Advisor, so this was maybe five, six years ago. And this plant did not bloom. It was quite beautiful, but it did not bloom. This year, for the first time, it bloomed, Annette.

    As to the question concerning former President Carter, look, I have made clear that the United States believed and communicated to President Carter that this was a trip and a meeting -- let me say it that way -- with Hamas that would not be helpful to our policies in the Middle East, that would serve to give Hamas a platform from which to say that they were legitimate because a former President of the United States was meeting with them, and that it would, in fact, not be a good thing from the point of view of a peace process that is relying on negotiations between responsible Palestinian leaders who have, by the way, renounced violence and believe in a negotiated solution, in favor of those who continue to rely on violence, continue to say that Israel doesn't have the right to exist, and by the way, continue to abrogate and to set aside all negotiated agreements that the Palestinians have signed over the last more than a decade. And I don’t know how that could have been any clearer.

    So I don’t want to continue this argument, but I just want to restate the policy of the United States. I don’t see the point of trying to bring into peace negotiations people who are clearly determined to destroy the foundation for peace. (Applause.)

    MODERATOR: I’ll call on David Harris.

    QUESTION: Madame Secretary, in the travels of the American Jewish Committee, we have admired the key role of the United States in helping to forge an international consensus with regard to Iran, the subject you addressed, in adopting the first UN Security Council resolution followed by the three sanctions resolutions. We also applaud the work of the Department of Treasury internationally.

    But at the same time, those who are concerned about Iran’s nuclear ambitions fear that these efforts are not keeping pace with Iran’s nuclear program and its ballistic missile technology. Could you share with us, perhaps, some additional thoughts tonight on whether you think, in fact, not only can we keep pace but we can outpace and ensure a peaceful outcome which prevents Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons?

    SECRETARY RICE: Yes, thank you. Well, the first point that I would make is that when you go to these meetings, everyone says, well, it would be terribly destabilizing and tragic, indeed, if Iran were to acquire a nuclear weapon. And I mean other states with whom we speak. And that seems to be a consensus, and it is on that basis that we have worked with particularly the Russians, the Chinese and the three European countries to try to forge a coalition of states that will carry the international banner against allowing Iran to have a nuclear weapon.

    But of course, this is going to require extremely -- not just coordinated, but more intensive diplomatic activity. The fact is the Iranians have continued to defy the international community despite the series of sanctions that have been put there. They’ve continued to defy despite the fact -- and they continue to say, well, it’s just the United States or it’s just the West. Well, these are Security Council resolutions, which means that they have the entire world’s imprimatur.

    But while the Security Council resolutions are very important, so, too, are the efforts that we are undertaking, which you referenced, David, that are using the Security Council, in a sense, umbrella, a concern, but really are outside of the Security Council. And those are sanctions that the Treasury Department -- designations that the Treasury Department makes of Iranian entities, individuals, groups, in order to prevent Iran from using the international financial system to move its ill-gotten gains from terrorism and from proliferation. And we made designations, for instance, of the Qods Force. We made designations of the Revolutionary Guard. You can believe that we’re going to continue to make designations because we believe, as my colleague Hank Paulson said, that it’s really hard to know who you’re doing business with when you do business with Iran. And that is the point that we are making increasingly to commercial entities, to banking and financial centers. You may think that you’re doing “legitimate business” with Iran, but you know, over time, the IRGC and the Qods Force is more and more involved in these issues. And therefore, we’re really trying to mobilize the international community to recognize what kind of state Iran is and what kinds of measures it requires.

    We are also -- not in connection with the nuclear issue but in connection with what the Iranians are doing in Afghanistan and in Iraq and in Lebanon and, as I mentioned earlier, in supporting Hamas in the Gaza Strip, I think we have to be more active in calling to people’s attention the nefarious activities that Iran is engaged in against reasonable states in the region and against our common security interests. Particularly, recently in Iraq, we had a kind of interesting circumstance; the Iraqi Government reclaimed Basra in the south from elements of Jaish al-Mahdi, associated with Muqtada al-Sadr, trained and equipped by Iran. Now, I think that that has gotten people’s attention. It certainly had people’s attention at the Neighbors’ meeting that I recently attended.

    So it is a process of continuing to try to push on as many fronts as we possibly can, but it is also to be very clear that the United States is prepared to defend its interests and defends its friends in the region. And it is one reason that the Gulf Security Dialogue that Bob Gates has been leading on the defense side, that the security assistance packages that we’ve put together for not just Israel but for other important states in the region, that this is a signal that the United States is in the region to stay and will defend its interests. (Applause.)

    MODERATOR: (Inaudible.) I can barely see.

    QUESTION: Secretary, I’m wondering what analysis you could give us of the possibility or -- and the desirability of, as they say, peeling off Syria’s allegiance to Iran to the West.

    SECRETARY RICE: Yes. Well, if I thought it could be done -- look, we’d be prepared to try to deny Iran friends and allies? Absolutely. But I have to say I think Syria behaves like Iran’s sidecar. The fact is that Syria is the problem in Lebanon. The fact is that we still do not have real satisfaction when it comes to foreign fighters in Iraq. And you know we have tried. We went out of our way to invite Syria to the Annapolis peace conference. It was hoped that that might give a glimpse of a Syria that might engage in more responsible behavior. We, of course, now know, too, that Syria was involved in building a covert nuclear reactor, well hidden, and after being destroyed great efforts to cover the whole thing up. And so -- and one also, of course, has to speak of the internal policies of Syria, which are quite brutal.

    So it’s hard to see that there is a Syrian regime that is receptive to those approaches. But if, in fact, it can be done, if Syria and -- Israel and Syria wish to pursue peace, the United States is never against peace. It should be pursued if it can be -- if it can be achieved. It’s just that, at this point, it’s been difficult to see Syrian behavior that is -- has the prospect of being more stabilizing in the region rather than the destabilizing behavior that we’re seeing. (Applause.)

    MODERATOR: Bob (inaudible).

    QUESTION: Madame Secretary, we applaud your efforts to bring about the agreement with the Palestinians. Thank you for that effort.

    As time moves on in your discussions, it is more and more stated that if there is an agreement, that it’ll be an agreement for the shelf, an agreement to be postponed in executing, and that that will bring about a great deal of frustration and therefore might not be a constructive accomplishment. I would appreciate your addressing that, if you would.

    SECRETARY RICE: Yes, thank you. I’m glad that you mentioned this because I’ve heard the argument that what we are perhaps creating is a shelf agreement. And we have never thought of it that way. I think that the Annapolis formula really demonstrates that we expect things to proceed on parallel tracks. First of all, you obviously need to improve conditions for the Palestinians on the ground. And I’ve been working with the Israelis. We now are working on perhaps a more integrated way to take a part of the West Bank, put in Palestinian security forces, remove some of the obstacles to movement and access, get some of the Blair economic projects in and see if you can’t make life better in a part of the West Bank and see if you can spread that over time. We really do have to improve lives for the Palestinian people.

    Secondly, we are very devoted to trying to make the Roadmap obligations be met. And again, in parallel, so that when there are movement and access issues that the Israelis address or when the Palestinians address certain institution-building issues like proper security forces that we’re helping to train, that then is moving you along. And then there is the third track, which is the negotiated peace. Now, my view is that tracks one and two, which frankly, we’ve tried before in the absence of a political horizon, those tracks are not going to move without the negotiations on the political settlement. And the political settlement is not going to move without changes on the ground and Roadmap obligations. They have to move together.

    And ideally, and I see no reason that this would not be the case, if you pay attention to all three tracks going forward, you would arrive at a place where one could establish the Palestinian state, but you’d have to be absolutely sure that the Roadmap obligations had been met. And of course, it’s going to take some time to do all of the things that it would take to actually implement an agreement, no matter how quickly you want to implement it. It just takes time.

    So, I don’t think of this as a shelf agreement. I think of all of these tracks moving simultaneously together to create the conditions for a Palestinian state and to create the terms on which a Palestinian state would be created. Because I don’t think that a shelf agreement is a very good idea. I think then, you do have the potential for frustration.

    I should mention that there is a fourth track that we have been pressing very much to, and I press it every time I’m with my Arab colleagues. There are Arab states that openly, of course, have peace treaties with Israel. There are Arab states that conduct relations with Israel at various levels. And it was actually envisioned in both the Roadmap and in the Arab peace initiative that this would be a -- comprehensive, in the sense that the Arab-Israeli peace has to work, too.

    Now, we have essentially reversed or, I should say, we have – rather than keeping the Roadmap in sequence, phase one, phase two, phase three, we’ve put them together in parallel tracks. I would argue that it is also important for the sequentiality that is envisioned in the Roadmap concerning Arab contacts with Israel and in the Arab peace initiative also begin to soften. Because nothing would be more useful to our efforts and to the efforts of the parties than to have Arab contact with Israelis and Arab support for Palestinians, because, ultimately, the Palestinians have to be assured that when they make difficult choices, the Arabs are going to back those choices. And if the responsible Arab states back those choices, it’s going to be difficult for the Hamases of the world to say very much.

    On the other hand, I think Israelis need to have a horizon, too, that says when you make this peace it’s going to begin to normalize Israel’s place in the region. And so we are trying to move that peace along, too. And my friend and colleague, Tzipi Livni, has been tireless in pressing that forward, but I think that we will – we’re going to need to press that more. Everybody, rather than standing back and saying, well, I’ll wait until that happens or I’ll wait until that happens, everybody needs to come forward now. (Applause.)

    MODERATOR: Okay. We’ll take one more question, please. (Inaudible).

    QUESTION: Madame Secretary, first, I’d like to express (inaudible) for you. It means the world for us that you’re coming and share with us your vision for peace. Now, if we assume for a minute that there can be – that a peace will be arranged by Abbas and Olmert and the government, Abbas representing the more moderate side of the Palestinian, but we still have the issue of the Hamas which really controls the Gaza side and we are told that they are very popular in the Palestinian. So how do you see that – how – what is your vision of getting over the issue with Hamas and having Abbas regime really be in control of the entire Palestinian --

    SECRETARY RICE: Yes, thank you. Well, the President’s vision has always been that responsible people – or let me put it this way – ordinary people want to live in peace, that the Palestinian mother really doesn’t want to see her child become a suicide bomber. She wants to see her child go to university. Yes, there are some extremes in every society, but you have to appeal to the broad base of people who just want to live a normal and better life. And the extremists right now appeal to hopelessness and they appeal to assaults on dignity as they see it. And they appeal to the sense that there is no future for Palestinians.

    And the outline of the state or the definition of the state gives to those Palestinians who believe in the two-state solution, who believe in living side-by-side in peace and democracy with Israel, something to go to the Palestinians with and say, all right, yes, it represents compromise. It’s not the old – the old state on all the land and so forth. That’s not what it is. It represents a compromise. But it’s a state and it’s a future and it’s a hope and join in now to build that state and live side by side with Israel. And I believe if you’ve also had improvements on the ground and you’ve had the Palestinians building the institutions, that will be a powerful and compelling vision for Palestinians.

    At that point, Hamas will have to make a choice: Are they going to really stand outside of not just the Palestinian consensus, but the Arab consensus? And it’s one reason that it’s been important this time to bring along, as a part of the Annapolis process, Saudi Arabia and Egypt and Jordan and the Gulf states and Morocco and the North African states, to bring them along as a part of it, because ultimately, they will have to form the base of support so that it is a broad Arab consensus that that is the right answer to Palestinian aspirations.

    Now, I think that the window of opportunity for that vision is not very large. I will tell you that I don’t see – well, let me put it this way -- increasingly, Palestinians who talk about a two-state solution are my age. And I’m not that old, but I’m a lot older than most of the Palestinian population. And what you don’t want is that the hopelessness and the vision of the extremists has no counter. Because we can talk about economic opportunity for the Palestinians; we’ve tried to build it. It’s hard in the absence of a state.

    Israel has real security concerns that prevent real movement and access from taking place. It’s hard to talk about investment in the absence of a Palestinian state. And so these have to go together and there has to be an answer to the extremists. And it has to be that if you do renounce violence and you do accept Israel’s right to exist and you do agree that the agreements that have been signed ought to stay in place, then there’s going to be a future for you in a state.

    The extremists that we are talking about now also have a different character than even in the ‘90s and in the beginning of the decade. And that is this belt of extremism that is Hamas and Hezbollah and the radicals in Iraq and the radicals even in places like – even – increasingly, even in places like Afghanistan that are united by a vision of intolerance, of death and destruction and, by the way, supported overwhelmingly by Iran and, to a certain extent, Syria, but particularly Iran, gives this conflict a regional dimension that it has not had before.

    When you looked around that room at Annapolis, you saw a kind of coalition of states that both fear Iran and have come to understand that Iran is playing in troubled Arab waters. And I didn’t, three, four years ago talk very much about Iranian influence in Gaza. Now we do. And so there are many reasons to try to resolve this conflict now. I will be the first to say it’s hard; nobody is going to compromise Israel’s security, most especially the Israelis and most especially this President.

    And I’ve never been one who says you get security through peace. That’s not the point. But you can have peace and security. I am not certain that in the long term, the region as a whole can have true security without peace. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

    2008/339 Released on April 30, 2008

    Monday, April 28, 2008

    Saturday, April 26, 2008

    IAEA criticises U.S. and Israel

    Press Release 2008/06

    Statement by IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei

    25 April 2008 | The IAEA Secretariat was provided with information by the United States on 24 April claiming that the installation destroyed by Israel in Syria last September was a nuclear reactor. According to this information, the reactor was not yet operational and no nuclear material had been introduced into it.

    The Agency will treat this information with the seriousness it deserves and will investigate the veracity of the information. Syria has an obligation under its safeguards agreement with the IAEA to report the planning and construction of any nuclear facility to the Agency.

    The Director General deplores the fact that this information was not provided to the Agency in a timely manner, in accordance with the Agency's responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to enable it to verify its veracity and establish the facts. Under the NPT, the Agency has a responsibility to verify any proliferation allegations in a non-nuclear weapon State party to the NPT and to report its findings to the IAEA Board of Governors and the Security Council, as required.

    In light of the above, the Director General views the unilateral use of force by Israel as undermining the due process of verification that is at the heart of the non-proliferation regime.

    Tuesday, March 04, 2008

    New World Rules

    No "Worldpolitics" without Worldpermission.
    The intellect must be sharper than all ammunitions. (msr)

    Tuesday, January 01, 2008

    design of death


    1. No armies in foreign countries without UN permission.

    2. No weapons in space or international seas without UN permission.

    3. No weapons of mass destruction without UN control.

    4. No "military alliances" outside of UN.

    5. One-Man-One-Vote Worldwide.

    6. One-Right-Worldwide Now.

    7. No Order Without Law

    PeaceServer + United Nations + WorldPeacePlan + Translator + InternetJournal
    The intellect must be sharper than all ammunitions. (msr)