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The World Is Coming Up Guns

30 Mar

Arms-Sprouting PolypsAmnesty International supports an international arms trade and condemns Iran, North Korea, and Syria for their “cynical” opposition.

Despite overwhelming support for the treaty, some states still use huge economic interest, the exercise of political power and even claims of sovereignty to justify acts that are patently reprehensible such as the targeting and killing of their own citizens.

OK, so what the US Senate’s excuse for opposing what sounds like the international law equivalent of kittens and puppies?

It’s a rare day when the US Senate finds itself on the same side as Assad and the mullahs, but that’s exactly what’s happening now. The Senate voted last week 53-46 in favor of an amendment to defeat the treaty, indicating that the 67 votes required to ratify it are pretty much out of the question.

Of course the Senate is responding to a very different set of concerns. Jacksonian Americans are skeptical about ceding authority over US interests to an international body and are already stirred up about the new push for gun control at home. This has made them liable to lash out at this new treaty even harder.

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Using Vaccines To Subvert Pyongyang

26 Jan

nk famine victimsI respect those who place human rights above all other considerations in North Korea. The intractable situation on the Korean peninsula is frustrating for reasonable people to accept.

This week, and really for the past few weeks, has seen any illusion of diplomatic or domestic opening stripped naked. On human rights, abundant imagery and other documents exist, to verify the existence of abominable activities, that undermine the rhetoric of  Pyongyang’s “skeptical” supporters. Curtis Melvin believes he has located a new prison camp in Kaechon county. Meanwhile, in structures of another sort, NK watchers believe they have found the site at Punggye-ri of the imminent third nuclear test of which Pyongyang has warned. Finally, almost as a comic coda to a busy week, Pyongyang threatened to nuke itself.

In response, the United Nations passed UNSCR 2087.

On Thursday, the US placed economic sanctions on two North Korean bank officials and a Hong Kong trading company that it accused of supporting Pyongyang’s proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The company, Leader (Hong Kong) International Trading, was blacklisted by the United Nations on Wednesday.

Seoul has said it will look at whether there are any further sanctions it can implement alongside the US, but said the focus for now is to follow security council resolutions.

The resolution said the council “deplores the violations” by North Korea of its previous resolutions, which banned Pyongyang from conducting further ballistic missile and nuclear tests and from importing materials and technology for those programmes. It does not impose new sanctions on Pyongyang.

The US had wanted to punish North Korea for the rocket launch with a security council resolution that imposed new sanctions against Pyongyang, but China rejected that option. Beijing agreed to UN sanctions against Pyongyang after North Korea’s 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests.

Yet, the most desperate form of North Korean-inspired desperation is this – again, very insightful, very commendable – suggestion for “vaccine diplomacy” (via UN Dispatch).

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Wishing Is Nice, But Not In Syria

28 May

bp8.jpg Joshua Landis is much more level-headed than Shadi Hamid about why Syria is a disaster: Russia and its UNSC veto.

The United States is reportedly developing a plan to vet members of the Free Syrian Army before Arab nations transfer arms to them. It hopes to avoid arming muhahideen who turn against America should they succeed in bringing down the Assad regime. The US does not want another al-Qaida on its hands. The race to arm Syria is heating up as Saudi arms shipments are said to be getting through now. Russia reportedly also has an arms shipment en route to Syria. The UN is asking both sides not to send arms to Syria, but in vain. A new U.N. report blamed both sides for human rights violations, but explains that the Syrian army is killing many more people than the opposition. This also includes arbitrary arrests, torture, enforced disappearance and summary execution of activists, opponents and defectors.”To underline this, Syrian activists said government troops killed at least 50 people in the town of Houla in Homs province on Friday.

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