3 May 2018   Leave a comment

A dust storm hit the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan in India, killing more than 100 people.  Dust storms are not unusual at this time of year, but the high death toll is striking and suggests that the storm was intense.  There was widespread destruction caused by the storm with power outages and disrupted travel.  The Washington Post quoted Hemant Gera, secretary for disaster management and relief in Rajasthan:  ““I’ve been in office for 20 years, and this is the worst I’ve seen.”

Map showing regions affected by dust storm

 

Saeed Kamali Dehghan has written a very insightful article for The Guardian on the likely effects of a US pull-out from the Iranian nuclear deal.  He provides a history of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s alarms over the likelihood of Iranian nuclear weapons:

“Others find it hard to take Netanyahu seriously: he has been warning that Iran is close to acquiring nuclear weapons for more than 20 years. In 1992, he said the country would have a nuclear bomb in three to five years. In 1993, he predicted it would happen by 1999. He made similar remarks in 1996, 2002, and many times since, as the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has pointed out. Not only are his warnings repetitive, they are hypocritical. Ordinary people I talk to are shocked when they realise Iran does not have a single bomb and has been a party to the treaty on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons since 1970. Israel, in contrast, has never signed it (meaning that the International Atomic Energy Agency has no inspection authority there) and is estimated to have more than 200 nuclear warheads. Let’s be clear: Netanyahu’s files did not show that Iran has violated the agreement. The IAEA has verified 10 times, most recently in February, that Tehran has fully complied with its terms.”

Dehghan points out that if the US does pull out of the agreement, the move would likely embolden the hardliners in Tehran who would unquestionably argue that no detente with the US is possible and that Iran should simply forge its own course in the Middle East.

 

CNBCis reporting that over the last 30 days China has installed  anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on three of its artificial islands in the South China Sea.  The report, if true, comes on the heels of reports that China has also placed communications jamming equipment on those artificial islands.  Such islands are not recognized as soveriegn territory under international law and the US, as well as many Southeast Asian nations, have lodged protests about the militarization of the South China Sea.  China, however, has claimed that recent map discoveries prove Chinese control over the entire South China Sea. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying responded to the reports:

“China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands [the Chinese name for the artificial islands] and its nearby waters. It is needed to protect the sovereignty and security of China, and justified for China as a sovereign nation to carry out peaceful development activities and necessary defense constructions. The related deployment is not directed at any country.”

The spokesperson for the US White House, Sarah Sanders, made this statement in response to the reports:

“We’re well aware of China’s militarization of the South China Sea. We’ve raised concerns directly with the Chinese about this and there will be near-term and long-term consequences.”

Ms Sanders did not specify what those consequences might be, but US B-52 bombers are on patrol in the South China Sea.

The “New Map of the People’s Republic of China” Made in 1951

South China Sea-1951 Map-Solid Line Boundary Map

Posted May 3, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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