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USA, UN launches 10-point declaration for support for UN reforms

by UNTV   |   Posted on Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a session on reforming the United Nations at U.N. Headquarters in New York, U.S., September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The United States and the United Nations have launched the 10-point declaration for support for UN reforms which aims to simplify procedures and decentralized decisions, with greater transparency, efficiency, and accountability.

U.S. President Donald Trump had criticized the United Nations on Monday as being wracked with bureaucracy and mismanagement and urged reforms so that the world body emerges stronger and a more effective force for peace.

“The United Nations has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement. We are not seeing the results in line with this investment. But I know that under the secretary-general that’s changing and it’s changing fast. And we’ve seen it,” said US President Donald Trump.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres agreed with Trump and said that the world body’s “shared objective should focus more on people”.

“You often have said, and you repeated today, that the U.N. has tremendous potential. All of us have the responsibility to make sure we live up to it. Our shared objective is a 21st Century U.N. focused more on people, less on the process. And as you rightly said, more on delivery, less on bureaucracy,” said the official.

Lastly, Guterres emphasized that “to serve the people the world body must be flexible and efficient”.

“And we must do so keenly aware of our obligation to live up to the values of the United Nations charter. Together, we are making progress on a broad and bold reform agenda to strengthen the United Nations,” said Guterres. — Reuters

 

 

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U.S. to modernize nuclear capabilities with an eye on Russia

by UNTV   |   Posted on Monday, February 5th, 2018

Concerned about Russia’s growing tactical nuclear weapons, the United States will modernize its nuclear ‘triad’ – land, sea, air – capabilities, top Pentagon, and state department officials said on Friday.

Some critics said the decision could increase the risk of miscalculation between the two countries.

“We call on all states possessing nuclear weapons to declare or to maintain a moratorium on nuclear testing. Going forward, we are also eager to increase transparency and predictability to avoid miscalculation among nuclear weapons states and other possessor states. That includes re-establishing the conditions necessary for greater trust with Russia, and improved transparency with China as it expands and modernizes its nuclear forces,” said Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Tom Shannon.

It represents the latest sign of hardening resolve by President Donald Trump’s administration to address challenges from Russia, at the same time he is pushing for improved ties with Moscow to rein in a nuclear North Korea.

The focus on Russia is in line with the Pentagon shifting priorities from the fight against Islamist militants to “great power competition” with Moscow and Beijing.

The rationale for building up new nuclear capabilities, U.S. officials said, is that Russia currently perceives the United States’ nuclear posture and capabilities as inadequate.

“We must keep America’s deterrent credible by making it modern. The 2018 NPR [Nuclear Posture Review] calls for modernizing the nuclear triad and command and control system, which is necessary, affordable, and long overdue. Our nuclear triad has kept us safe for over 70 years. We cannot afford to let it become obsolete,” said Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan.

The Pentagon’s NPR, which is largely in line with the previous review in 2010, said the U.S. will modify a small number of submarine-launched ballistic missile warheads with low-yield options. — Reuters

 

 

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North Korea, U.S. clash at disarmament forum

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

FILE PHOTO: North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations Han Tae Song attends an interview with Reuters at the Permanent Mission of North Korea in Geneva, Switzerland, November 17, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

GENEVA (Reuters) – North Korea said on Tuesday it had a “powerful and reliable” nuclear deterrent to thwart any attack and accused the United States of deploying military assets nearby under the pretext of ensuring security at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

“This is a dangerous act of throwing a wet blanket over the current positive atmosphere of inter-Korean relations … which could drive again into an extreme phase of confrontation,” Han Tae Song, North Korea’s Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, said.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Monday a thaw in relations between the two Koreas ahead of next month’s Winter Olympics presented a “precious chance” for the United States and North Korea to discuss the North’s weapons programs.

North Korea is developing missile and nuclear technology amid regular threats to destroy the United States and Japan and in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Han, addressing the U.N.-sponsored Conference on Disarmament, said nuclear tests last year had allowed his country to “perfect a national nuclear force” in a transparent manner.

“Thus DPRK (North Korea) at last came to possess a powerful and reliable war deterrent,” he told the Geneva forum.

“I am proudly saying that DPRK’s nuclear force is capable of frustrating and countering any nuclear threats from the U.S. and it constitutes a powerful deterrent that prevents the U.S. from starting an adventurous war.”

Han said as a “responsible nuclear power” North Korea could not resort to using the weapons unless hostile forces violate its sovereignty or interests.

U.S. disarmament ambassador Robert Wood said: ”The United States will not recognize North Korea as a nuclear weapon state.

“If the North wishes to return and be in the good graces of the international community, it knows what it has to do, it has to take steps toward denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.”

In an earlier speech on Tuesday, United Nations disarmament official Izumi Nakamitsu welcomed an easing of tensions between North and South Korea but called for further steps toward removing nuclear weapons from the divided peninsula.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Janet Lawrence

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As U.S. goes quiet on close naval patrols, China speaks out

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

FILE PHOTO: An aerial photo taken though a glass window of a Philippine military plane shows the alleged on-going land reclamation by China on mischief reef in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, Philippines, May 11, 2015.
REUTERS/RITCHIE B. TONGO/POOL

HONG KONG/BEIJING (Reuters) – While the Pentagon plays down patrols close to Chinese-controlled reefs and islands in the South China Sea, Beijing is sounding the alarm about them, seeking to justify what experts say will be an even greater presence in the disputed region.

Chinese officials publicized the latest U.S. “freedom of navigation patrol”, protesting the deployment last week of the destroyer USS Hopper to within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Shoal, an atoll west of the Philippines which Beijing disputes with Manila.

It was the second time in recent months that confirmation of a patrol came from Beijing, not Washington, which had previously announced or leaked details.

Bonnie Glaser, a security expert at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, said while the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump had a policy of keeping the patrols regular but low key, China was willing to publicly exploit them to further their military ends.

“It is difficult to conclude otherwise,” she said. “Even as it pushes ahead with these (patrols), I don’t think the Trump administration has really come to terms with what it will tolerate from China in the South China Sea, and what it simply won’t accept, and Beijing seems to grasp this.”

In official statements, Chinese foreign ministry official Lu Kang said China would take “necessary measures to firmly safeguard its sovereignty” in the resource-rich sea.

Some regional diplomats and security analysts believe that will involve increased Chinese deployments and the quicker militarization of China’s expanded facilities across the Spratlys archipelago.

While U.S. officials did not target China in their comments, couching freedom-of-navigation patrols as a “routine” assertions of international law, Beijing was quick to cast Washington as the provocateur.

The Communist Party’s official People’s Daily newspaper on Monday accused the U.S. of upsetting recent peace and co-operation and “wantonly provoking trouble”, saying China had must now strengthen its presence in the strategic waterway.

CONSTRUCTION AND MILITARIZATION

In recent years, China has built up several reefs and islets into large-scale airstrips and bases as it seeks to assert and enforce its claims to much of the sea, through which some $3 trillion in trade passes annually. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, as well as Taiwan, hold rival claims.

Chinese coastguard and People’s Liberation Army navy ships patrol vast swathes of the South China Sea, routinely shadowing U.S. and other international naval deployments, regional naval officers say.

Zhang Baohui, a mainland security analyst at Hong Kong’s Lingnan University, told Reuters he believed Beijing was rattled by Trump’s sharpening Asia strategy and they might be tempted to react in the South China Sea, even after months of relative calm.

“We can perhaps expect the Chinese to push ahead with militarization as retaliation,” he said.

A new U.S. national defense strategy unveiled last week stressed the need to counter the rising authoritarian powers of China and Russia, outlining a need to better support allies and newer partners against coercion.

While most analysts and regional envoys believe China remains keen to avoid an actual conflict with the significantly more powerful U.S. navy in the South China Sea, it is working to close the gap.

China has added bunkers, hangars and advanced radars on its new runways in the Spratlys, although it has not fully equipped them with the advanced surface-to-air and anti-ship missiles they use to protect the Paracels grouping further north.

Similarly, Beijing has yet to land jet fighters in the Spratlys – test flights some experts are expecting this year.

POTENTIAL FLASHPOINT

The latest patrol was at least the fifth such patrol under the Trump administration and the first to Scarborough – one of the more contentious features in the region.

Scarborough, once a U.S. bombing range, was blockaded by the Chinese in 2012, prompting the Philippines to launch its successful legal case in the Hague against China’s excessive territorial claims.

China allowed Filipino fishermen back to Scarborough’s rich waters last year, but it remains a potential flashpoint as both sides claim sovereignty and China maintains a steady presence of ships nearby.

While experts and regional envoys expect China to ramp up operations from the Spratlys, none expect it to build on Scarborough – something widely believed to be a red line that would provoke the United States, given its long-standing security treaty with the Philippines.

Shi Yinhong, who heads the Center for American Studies at Beijing’s Renmin University, said China had “lived with” U.S. patrols for several years but the key facts on the ground remained in China’s favor and broader tensions had “improved remarkably”.

“These islands, especially those with reclaimed land and military capability already deployed, they’re still in Chinese hands,” Shi, who has advised the Chinese government on diplomacy, told Reuters.

“I don’t think Trump has the stomach and the guts to change this fundamental status quo.”

(This story has been refiled to correct typo in paragraph 5)

Reporting By Greg Torode in Hong Kong and Philip Wen in Beijing; Editing by Lincoln Feast

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