More NK sanctions on China and Russia

How to win friends and influence people – sanction them until they drop out of the WTO and form their own trade grouping.  I can foresee the world splitting into 2 trade blocs, and many of the countries like Australia being forced to choose between its main export markets and its main military alliances.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-22/treasury-slaps-sanctions-china-russia-entities-and-individuals-over-north-korea

Treasury Slaps Sanctions On China, Russia Entities And Individuals Over North Korea

In a move that is certain to infuriate China further and result in another deterioration in diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing, moments ago the United States slapped both Chinese and Russian entities and individuals with new sanctions in the Trump administration’s escalating attempts to pressure North Korea to relent and stop its nuclear program and occasional missile launches.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said it would target 10 entities and six individuals who help already sanctioned people who aid North Korea’s missile program or “deal in the North Korean energy trade.” The U.S. also aims to sanction people and groups that allow North Korean entities to access the U.S. financial system or helps its exportation of workers, according to the Treasury:

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated 10 entities and six individuals in response to North Korea’s ongoing development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), violations of United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolutions, and attempted evasion of U.S. sanctions.  Today’s sanctions target third-country companies and individuals that (1) assist already-designated persons who support North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, (2) deal in the North Korean energy trade, (3) facilitate its exportation of workers, and (4) enable sanctioned North Korean entities to access the U.S. and international financial systems.

As a result of the latest action, “any property or interests in property of the designated persons in the possession or control of U.S. persons or within the United States must be blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them.”

Speaking on today’s sanctions, Steven Mnuchin who, or rather whose wife today is in the news for an entirely different reason, made the following statement:

“Treasury will continue to increase pressure on North Korea by targeting those who support the advancement of nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and isolating them from the American financial system,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.

“It is unacceptable for individuals and companies in China, Russia, and elsewhere to enable North Korea to generate income used to develop weapons of mass destruction and destabilize the region.  We are taking actions consistent with UN sanctions to show that there are consequences for defying sanctions and providing support to North Korea, and to deter this activity in the future.”

Among the companies sanctions in regards to North Korea’s “WMD program” are the following:

OFAC designated China-based Dandong Rich Earth Trading Co., Ltd. for its support to UN- and U.S.-designated Korea Kumsan Trading Corporation, an entity OFAC previously designated for being owned or controlled by, or acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the UN- and U.S.-designated General Bureau of Atomic Energy, which is responsible for North Korea’s nuclear program.  Dandong Rich Earth Trading Co., Ltd. has purchased vanadium ore from Korea Kumsan Trading Corporation.  UNSCR 2270 prohibits North Korea’s exports of vanadium ore, and requires member states like China to prohibit the procurement of vanadium ore from North Korea.

OFAC designated Gefest-M LLC and its director, Russian national Ruben Kirakosyan, for support to the UN- and U.S.-designated Korea Tangun Trading Corporation, also known as Korea Kuryonggang Trading Corporation, which is subordinate to the UN- and U.S.-designated Second Academy of Natural Sciences, an entity involved in North Korea’s WMD and missile programs.  Gefest-M LLC, a company based in Moscow, has been involved in the procurement of metals for Korea Tangun Trading Corporation’s Moscow office.

OFAC also designated China- and Hong Kong-based Mingzheng International Trading Limited (“Mingzheng”).  Mingzheng acts as a front company for UN- and U.S.-designated Foreign Trade Bank (FTB), and it has provided financial services to FTB by, among other things, conducting U.S.-dollar denominated transactions on behalf of FTB.  FTB is North Korea’s primary foreign exchange bank; it was designated by the United Nations on August 5, 2017 as part of UNSCR 2371.  OFAC designated FTB in 2013 for facilitating transactions on behalf of North Korea’s proliferation network, including for UN- and U.S.-designated Korea Mining Development Corporation and Korea Kwangson Banking Corporation.  On June 29, 2017, OFAC designated Mingzheng’s owner, Sun Wei.

The Treasury also designated three Chinese coal companies collectively responsible for importing nearly half a billion dollars’ worth of North Korean coal between 2013 and 2016.  Dandong Zhicheng Metallic Materials Co., Ltd. (“Zhicheng”), JinHou International Holding Co., Ltd., and Dandong Tianfu Trade Co., Ltd. have sold, supplied, transferred, or purchased coal or metal, directly or indirectly, from North Korea, and the revenue may have benefitted the nuclear or ballistic missile programs of the Government of North Korea or the Workers’ Party of Korea.  JinHou International Holding Co., Ltd. and Dandong Tianfu Trade Co., Ltd. also were designated for operating in the mining industry in the North Korean economy.

Meanwhile, top U.S. officials have said they do not want to take military action against North Korea unless it is a last resort, and as a result getting China to cooperate is seen as a key part of a diplomatic solution.

Of course, what this latest round of sanctions will achieve, is to further anger Beijing and the local population, in the process making a diplomatic solution even more unlikely and “forcing” America’s ruling Generals, Kelly and McMaster to launch the first “preemptive” shot against Pyongyang.

maximizing European reassurance

More geopolitical pressure on Russia, as US starts work on a Maritime Operations Centre at Ochakov just 150 km from the Crimean Peninsular, under the guise of reassurance for European safety. This will ensure Ochakov being targeted by nuclear-armed missiles at the start of any war with Russia – some reassurance.

https://www.rt.com/news/399006-us-seabees-ukraine-maritime-center/

US Navy team starts building maritime ops center at Ukrainian base


8 Aug, 2017

The US Navy has launched construction of a maritime operations center in Ukraine which will serve as a “major planning and operation hub” during military exercises hosted by the country.

“Seabees [US Naval Construction Battalions] held a groundbreaking ceremony for a maritime operations center on Ochakov Naval Base, Ukraine, July 25,” the US Navy said in a statement released on Monday.

The Seabees have been in Ochakov since April to establish contracts, obtain construction permits, and perform other logistical tasks for the maritime operations center project, the Navy said.

The maritime operations center is one of three projects that the Seabees will execute in Ochakov.

“Beginning construction in Ukraine is a significant accomplishment,” Lt. j.g. (junior grade) Jason McGee, officer in charge of Det. Ukraine said.

“Our ability to maximize European reassurance initiatives in Ukraine holds strategic importance, and will ultimately improve host nation defense capacity and infrastructure, strengthen relations and increase bilateral training capabilities,” he added.

The Seabees are also set to build a boat maintenance facility and entry control points with perimeter fencing in Ochakov.

Last month, several US missile warships, over 800 sailors, and a Navy SEALs team took part in the 12-day Sea Breeze 2017 joint NATO naval exercise off Ukraine. The multinational war games took place in the northwestern part of the Black Sea, near the Ukrainian port city of Odessa.

The Sixth Fleet said in a press release that the US Navy sent the USS Hue City Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser and the USS Carney Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, along with a P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraft.

Moscow has long objected to NATO’s large-scale war games near the Russian border, which intensified after the March 2014 referendum in which Crimea voted for reunification with Russia.

In late June, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said that the Alliance’s provocative actions “raise mutual suspicions and push us [Russia] to undertake retaliatory measures, mainly in the western strategic direction.”

On July 13, Russian permanent representative to NATO Alexander Grushko said that NATO activities in eastern Europe “not only ensure a reinforced military presence of the allies in the immediate vicinity of Russia’s borders but in fact represent an intensive mastering of the potential theater of military operations.”

Medvedev: “The U.S. Just Declared Full-Scale Trade War On Russia”

This hardly a surprise, yet the stupidity of Congress in believing its own anti-Russian propaganda, and of Trump allowing this power-grab to go ahead is indicative of an administration that is out of its depth, that is totally boxed in by those he calls “the swamp”.

You’ve got the Republicans and the Democrats that can’t agree on ANYTHING, with the ONE exception – that Trump is NOT allowed to be friendly towards Russia. The Empire’s real rulers have spoken.

Perhaps he had no one telling him that this was the time to make a very public statement to the nation that this major plank of his foreign policy was going to be blocked by Congress – perhaps Reince Priebus could have explained things to him if he hadn’t been fighting to keep his job at the time.

Bringing in marine General John F. Kelly as WH Chief of Staff is hardly going to educate Trump about the nuances of Washington or international politics. He is used to giving orders and having them obeyed, not having to negotiate and talk to the right people.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-02/russian-pm-medvedev-us-just-declared-full-blown-trade-war-russia

Russian PM: “The U.S. Just Declared Full-Scale Trade War On Russia”

Tyler Durden
Aug 2, 2017

Several hours after President Trump officially signed the new Russian sanctions into law – despite his reservations and his statement that while he favors “tough measures to punish and deter aggressive and destabilizing behavior by Iran, North Korea, and Russia, this legislation is significantly flawed” – Russia responded when moments ago Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on his FaceBook page that any hopes of improving Russian relations with the new US administration are dead, that the Trump administration demonstrated complete impotence by transferring executive power to Congress “in the most humiliating manner”, and most notably, that the US just declared a full-scale trade war on Russia.

From https://www.facebook.com/Dmitry.Medvedev/

The signing of new sanctions against Russia into law by the US president leads to several consequences. First, any hope of improving our relations with the new US administration is over. Second, the US just declared a full-scale trade war on Russia. Third, the Trump administration demonstrated it is utterly powerless, and in the most humiliating manner transferred executive powers to Congress. This shifts the alignment of forces in US political circles.

What does this mean for the U.S.? The American establishment completely outplayed Trump. The president is not happy with the new sanctions, but he could not avoid signing the new law. The purpose of the new sanctions was to put Trump in his place. Their ultimate goal is to remove Trump from power. An incompetent player must be eliminated. At the same time, the interests of American businesses were almost ignored. Politics rose above the pragmatic approach. Anti-Russian hysteria has turned into a key part of not only foreign (as has been the case many times), but also domestic US policy (this is recent).

The sanctions codified into law will now last for decades, unless some miracle occurs. Moreover, it will be tougher than the Jackson-Vanik law, because it is comprehensive and can not be postponed by special orders of the president without the consent of the Congress. Therefore, the future relationship between the Russian Federation and the United States will be extremely tense, regardless of the composition of the Congress or the personality of the president. Relations between the two countries will now be clarified in international bodies and courts of justice leading to further intensification of international tensions, and a refusal to resolve major international problems.

What does this mean for Russia? We will continue to work on the development of the economy and social sphere, we will deal with import substitution, solve the most important state tasks, counting primarily on ourselves. We have learned to do this in recent years. Within almost closed financial markets, foreign creditors and investors will be afraid to invest in Russia due to worries of sanctions against third parties and countries. In some ways, it will benefit us, although sanctions – in general – are meaningless. We will manage.

Separately, Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia retains the right to impose new counter-measures, adding the US sanctions are short-sighted, and risk harming global stability. He concludes that and attempts to pressure Russia will not make it change course.

Echoing Lavrov, earlier on Wednesday the permanent representative to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia said Moscow “won’t bend” and has no plans to change its policies following Donald Trump’s signing of new anti-Russian sanctions.

“Those who invented this bill, if they were thinking that they might change our policy they were wrong, as history many times proved. They should have known better that we do not bend and do not break,” Nebenzia told journalists in New York.

“Some of the US officials were saying that this is a bill that might encourage Russia to cooperate… This is a strange form of encouragement. But it is not our habit to be resentful children,” continued the diplomat, who promised that Moscow would “not relent on finding means and ways” to cooperate in the international arena over issues such as Syria.

The Kremlin also chose not to escalate the situation further. “This changes nothing. There is nothing new here,” Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, told the media in Moscow. “Counter-measures have already been taken.”

And now we await a similar announcement from the European Union.