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‘Censorship’: UK freezes bank account of Russian news agency, gives no reason

RT | July 13, 2015

Barclay’s bank froze a Rossiya Segodnya news agency account without explaining its reasons. The news first came to light on Monday. The agency’s head Dmitry Kiselyov has called it “censorship.”

“To close the account of one of the world’s leading news agencies is censorship, the direct obstruction of journalists’ work,” Dmitry Kiselyov said. “What kind of press freedom and democracy can Britain claim to have if it prevents one of the world’s largest news agencies from working in the country?”

No formal notification of the move or justification for it was immediately provided. A source in the banking sector told the agency the Exchequer has put Dmitry Kiselyov on an anti-Russian sanctions list, which could have led to the news agency’s account being frozen.

Kiselyov is one of the people subjected to financial and travel sanctions in the EU. These restrictions have been imposed on a number of Russian officials in connection with Moscow’s stance over Ukraine crisis.

The sanctions list, which includes the head of Rossiya Segodnya news agency, was published on March 21. It characterizes Kiselyov as “central figure of the government propaganda supporting the deployment of Russian forces in Ukraine.”

July 13, 2015 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Russia won’t go to OSCE parliamentary session in Helsinki – Duma speaker

RT | July 1, 2015

Sergey Naryshkin says the refusal to participate in the forthcoming OSCE session was meant as a protest against arbitrariness and violations of main principles of democracy and parliamentary politics.

The State Duma chairman announced the decision to skip the Helsinki session of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe soon after the Finnish Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday that it had turned down a request to temporarily waive the travel ban and allow Naryshkin and five more State Duma MPs to enter their country. In order to participate in the event that begins on Sunday.

Earlier, Naryshkin submitted a draft resolution to the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE denouncing the very practice of sanctions against parliamentarians. In this document he also stated that obstructing contacts between lawmakers from different nations was against the basic principles of democracy.

On Wednesday Naryshkin said that the whole of the Russian delegation would not participate in the OSCE session “in protest against arbitrariness, against violation of the principles of democracy.” He added that Russia still planned to take part in the next session of the OSCE’s Parliamentary Assembly that will take place in Ulan Bator, Mongolia.

Earlier in the day Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov called Finland’s decision to deny entry to the Duma speaker “outrageous and unacceptable,” especially considering the fact that the visit was within the framework of an international event. Peskov added that he expected the Russian Foreign Ministry to give a qualified appraisal of this step.

In March 2014, the USA and the EU introduced personal sanctions, such as visa bans and asset freezes, on a number of senior Russian officials and leading politicians whom they accused of being “key ideologists and architects” of the policy towards Ukraine. As the relations between the West and Russia continued to deteriorate, more names were added to the blacklists.

Russia replied with its own blacklist of about 200 people known for their anti-Russian positions and actions. The Russian Foreign Ministry did not initially disclose their names, but they were published by Finnish press earlier this year after Russia presented the list to European nations for the convenience of foreign officials who did not want to apply for visas if they were to be refused anyway.

The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed disappointment in this disclosure, calling it a threat to mutual trust.

July 1, 2015 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

US presidential hopeful: Sanctions don’t facilitate ‘rapprochement’ with Russia

RT | June 8, 2015

Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, who has entered the race for the Democratic nomination for president, has questioned the US policy of imposing sanctions on Russia. There are “better ways to get rapprochement” with Moscow, he said.

“I should think there would be better ways of getting a rapprochement with Russia,” Democratic presidential hopeful Chafee, a fierce critic of rival frontrunner Hillary Clinton over her 2002 vote on Iraq War, told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.

“They’re so important in the world, and especially to the countries, the former Soviet Republics, such as Ukraine,” said Chafee, who previously served in the Senate as a Republican.

He added: “We need to wage peace in this world. That’s our responsibility. That’s the charge that we’re given with our economic power that we have.”

When asked how he would reshape relations with Russia and President Vladimir Putin, Chafee said to start with the US needs to learn from previous mistakes.

“Stop making mistakes that Secretary Clinton made when we were trying to restart our relations with Russia and Sec. Clinton presented the foreign minister with a symbolic gesture and they got the Russian word wrong. It’s those types of mistakes that set back a relationship – little symbolic mistakes.”

In 2009, the then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented her Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, with a little gift meant to highlight the Obama administration’s readiness “to press the reset button” in relationships with Moscow. Instead of the Russian word for “reset” (perezagruzka) the box featured a different word – peregruzka, which translates as “overload” or “overcharged.”

“You’ve got it wrong,” Lavrov noted with a smile. The grammatical gaffe created a stir in the media.

The carrot-and-stick policy in regard to Russia has been considered unconstructive and ineffective by a number of politicians and economists. A senior member of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD), Matthias Platzeck, told Die Welt am Sonntag newspaper in May that among other things, “The process of disintegration in the Middle East, in Iran, Afghanistan and Syria can only be solved with Russia.”

Greece revealed last month it was asked by the US to prolong anti-Russia sanctions. Athens replied that Russia is a strategic ally and the “sanction war” is causing it an estimated loss of €4 billion a year.

“I was asked to support the prolongation of the sanctions, particularly in connection with Crimea. I explained the Ukrainian issue was very sensitive for Greece as some 300,000 Greeks live in Mariupol and its neighborhood, and they feel safe next to the Orthodox Church,” Defense Minister Panos Kammenos was cited as saying on the Ministry of National Defense website.

Italian media also previously reported that the sanctions have affected the country’s economy, with trade turnover falling by 17 percent, and the Italian economy losing 5.3 billion euros. Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said in May that “Italy can’t afford to close the doors to Russia” and “can’t cut ties” with Moscow. Gentiloni also told La Stampa newspaper that Russia plays a major role in resolving world crises.

European experts estimate that due to the sanctions, the West lost €40 billion last year, which includes a €12 billion loss by European farmers. Despite the economic difficulties that the sanctions against Russia, imposed over its stance on the conflict between Kiev and rebels in eastern Ukraine, have brought to the EU, leaders gathered at the G7 meeting on Sunday called for even tougher measures. Russia was expelled from the club last year in protest over its support for the referendum in Crimea, where the majority of residents voted for secession from Ukraine and in favor of joining Russia.

According to a statement issued by the White House after a one-on-one meeting between Angela Merkel and Barack Obama in Bavaria, it was restated that the “duration of sanctions should be clearly linked to Russia’s full implementation of the Minsk agreements and respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty.”

Ahead of Obama’s visit to Germany, White House spokesman Josh Earnest stated, however, that the introduction of the sanctions on Russia has not brought any positive results.

“I would acknowledge that we have not yet seen the kind of change in behavior that we have long sought now,” Earnest said in his daily press briefing.

The Obama administration has maintained that the longer the sanctions are in place, “the more of an economic bite they take out of the Russian economy.” This, despite the fact a number of EU members have been hit hard by Russian counter-sanctions.

“I think these sanctions are affecting Europe much more as a whole than was expected, and the others on the other side of the Atlantic are not affected at all,” former Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told RT in November.

The Minsk-2 deal, reached on February 12, includes a requirement to withdraw heavy weapons from the contact line and establish a buffer zone. But tensions have been running high in eastern Ukraine recently, leading to growing concerns that the fragile ceasefire was on the verge of collapse.

Kiev forces shelled Donbass on June 3, killing at least six people and injuring 90 others. The RT crew recorded dramatic footage of the shelling’s aftermath. The US State Department refused to acknowledge that the Kiev authorities are violating the Minsk peace agreements, however, turning a blind eye to daily OSCE reports that equally implicate the government and the rebel forces. The Ukrainian General Staff acknowledged last week that Kiev’s forces were using heavy artillery that had previously been withdrawn from the frontline under February’s Minsk peace deal.

Moscow, meanwhile, believes that the timing of the new tensions is directly connected with the upcoming EU summit, which is to take place in Brussels later this month.

2637716 06/06/2015 Firemen extinguish fire at the Oktyabrksy market caused by a shell hit during the shelling of Donetsk. Irina Gerashchenko/RIA Novosti

2637716 06/06/2015 Firemen extinguish fire at the Oktyabrksy market caused by a shell hit during the shelling of Donetsk. Irina Gerashchenko/RIA Novosti

“Yes, indeed, in the past Kiev had already heated up tensions amid some large international events. This is the case, and now we are seriously concerned about the next repetition of such activity,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said last week.

At the United Nations Security Council meeting on Friday, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, told its members that he has noticed “frustration” with Kiev’s “flagrant violation and blunt ignorance of the Minsk agreements” among even those Western states that are “loyal to Kiev.” The UN Security Council members urged both sides in the Ukrainian conflict to exercise restraint and uphold the ceasefire last week.

The conflict erupted in April 2014 after Kiev sent troops to the Donetsk and Lugansk regions as local residents refused to recognize the coup-imposed authorities in the capital. According to the UN Human Rights Office, at least 6,116 people have been killed and 15,474 wounded during a year of fighting.

June 8, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama to urge G7 leaders to maintain Russia sanctions – while admitting they don’t work

RT | June 5, 2015

US President Barack Obama will urge G7 leaders to keep sanctions in place against Russia at the G7 summit in Germany, US officials said. The US says it needs to “maintain the pressure” on Moscow.

The G7 nations will meet in Bavaria, Germany for a two-day summit beginning Sunday. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that the sanctions imposed on Russia will be on the agenda.

“In my understanding, the president plans to talk with the European leaders about the necessity to continue the sanctions, which are already in place. This will be part of the discussion,” Earnest told a press briefing. He added, though, that he “would acknowledge that we have not yet seen the kind of change in behavior that we have long fought for.”

Charles Kupchan, the White House Senior Director for European Affairs, confirmed that meetings at the summit will be centered on the US and Europe putting pressure on Moscow.

“The president will be making the case to his European colleagues that the European Union should move ahead and extend sanctions when they end,” Kupchan said.

The US has criticized Russia recently for an increase in fighting in Eastern Ukraine. However, on Thursday, the Kremlin released a statement saying that the tensions, which had been stoked by Kiev, were increased to coincide with the upcoming EU summit, which is to take place in Brussels on June 25-26.

“Yes, indeed, in the past Kiev had already heated up tensions amid some large international events. This is the case, and now we are seriously concerned about the next repetition of such activity,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

However, rather than further looking to sideline Moscow, German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that it is essential to continue cooperation with Russia in a number of key international questions.

“Of course we want and should cooperate with the Russian Federation,” Merkel told the DPA news agency. “In order to settle some conflicts, such as the one in Syria, we cannot go forward without Russia’s help. Therefore I support maintaining contact with President Vladimir Putin.”

The Obama administration says that the longer the sanctions are in place, “the more of an economic bite they take out of the Russian economy.” However, the sanctions are also having a negative effect on a number of EU members who have been hurt by Russian counter-sanctions.

“I think these sanctions are affecting Europe much more as a whole than was expected, and the others on the other side of the Atlantic are not affected at all,” said former Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, who spoke to RT in November.

Some EU nations are becoming wary of introducing further sanctions against Moscow. During a visit to Moscow in March by the Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, he stated: “[Russia and Cyprus] will cooperate without paying attention to who is reacting or who may have concerns,” according to CNA.

The current EU sanctions expire in June, after which time the bloc will hold a vote on prolonging them. However, a Russian politician, Leonid Kalashnikov, says he is confident that the bloc will not look to impose further measures against Moscow as it will not be in their interests.

“As far as new sanctions are concerned, now I am sure that Europe is very unlikely to impose them, because there are nations that would not agree to this – Greece, Cyprus, Hungary and Italy. And if even a single nation does not agree there would be no decision, such is the voting procedure,” Kalashnikov, the deputy head of the State Duma’s committee for international relations, told the Izvestia daily.
Obama: ‘We have to twist arms when we need to’

Kalashnikov also said that almost daily meetings are held in the State Duma with foreign politicians who are trying to find a way to resume dialogue with Russia.

In February, Spain evaluated the losses suffered by the EU in the “sanctions war” with Russia at €21 billion ($23.78 billion).

In December 2014, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said the US was “twisting arms” of their own allies so that they could continue an “anti-Russian front” and follow US policies on sanctions against Russia.

“But the US is not ashamed of insisting on cooperation with us [Russia] on matters affecting its own interests,” he said. He used the example of the Iranian nuclear talks, in which both Russia and the US take part.

Even President Obama admitted that: “We occasionally have to twist the arms of countries that wouldn’t do what we need them to do,” in an interview with Vox in February.

Even Washington has found the sanctions they have implemented against Russia have not always served their own interests. The US discreetly managed to create a loophole in its sanctions against Russia to allow communications software to be exported to Crimea to try and limit Moscow’s ability “to control the narrative of local events,” according to the Commerce Department, which was cited by Bloomberg.

The move comes after the State Department’s former senior adviser for innovation, Alec Ross, mentioned that the Russians have done “an excellent job of flooding the zone in Crimea with their propaganda,” and that the US needed to introduce media platforms in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, which Moscow would be unable to control.

June 5, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yemen suffers vital food and aid shortages as shelling continues

RT | April 28, 2015

Amid constant shelling by the Saudi-led coalition, Yemen is struggling to import even essentials such as food and water, with a UN-imposed arms blockade on Houthi fighters interrupting any deliveries to the country.

Speaking at UN Security Council closed-door consultations on the crisis in Yemen, the United Nations envoy to Yemen warned that UN arms embargo targeting the Houthis is having a collateral impact on aid deliveries.

“Implementation of the new targeted arms embargo … could inadvertently restrict the flow of much-needed commercial goods and humanitarian assistance to Yemen, including food, fuel and medical supplies,” Jamal Benomar told reporters after the briefing.

Around 10 vessels containing food supplies for Yemen are still waiting to enter the country’s ports, as many Yemeni sea outlets are now being cut off by Saudis who refuse to allow any international vessels to dock in Houthi-controlled areas.

According to the UN, the number includes three ships awaiting clearance at Hodeida, with one carrying 13,500 tonnes of rice. Another six ships carrying fuel, corn and construction products are awaiting clearance from the coalition to dock at the nearby Salifa port.

Yemen which imports more than 90 percent of its food, mainly by sea, has been struggling to feed the population for weeks. Earlier this month, Reuters reported that at least five merchant ships were not allowed to pass. Only two or three of those vessels have been able to offload their cargo, ship tracking data and shipping sources told Reuters.

“Ships with wheat need to wait up to five days for permission to enter. Several seem to be delayed,” a German commodities trade source told the news agency.

Aid deliveries have also been hindered by the Saudis who have now been engaging the Houthi forces from the air for over a month now.

Two Iranian cargo planes headed for Yemen were forced to turn back by Saudi Arabia last week. On Friday Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned Saudi Arabia’s chargé d’affaires in Tehran to express its protest over the move.

“We consider all options for helping the Yemeni people and immediate dispatch of humanitarian aid and transfer of the injured,” Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Sunday.

The food that does eventually enter the war-torn country is being moved slowly around Yemen as shortages of fuel continues, United Nations’ World Food Programme said.

With a price tag of $10 per liter of petrol, hospitals are suffering the worst, with the UN humanitarian agency OCHA warning that fuel supplies to generate powers will dwindle for one more week before running out in two weeks time.

Prices for wheat products have also skyrocketed in the country and have risen by more than 40 percent since February. Medicine prices have risen by more than 300 percent, the UN said.

The humanitarian situation in Yemen has become catastrophic, humanitarian agencies said on Monday, as over 12 million people need help, according to UN figures.

“It was difficult enough before, but now there are just no words for how bad it’s gotten,” said International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) spokeswoman Marie Claire Feghali. “It’s a catastrophe, a humanitarian catastrophe.”

The lack of safe drinking water supply is also becoming a widespread problem in Yemen, a country of vast sand dunes and dessert.

“There’s a consensus on water sharing across the Middle East – since water is generally pretty scarce there. President Hadi cut the water budget by 70 percent and that was one of the many decisions that created the sentiment against him,” Danny Makki of the Syrian Youth Movement, told RT.

Meanwhile Yemen’s exiled government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh declared three areas in Yemen as “disaster” zone. Yemeni Human Rights Minister Izzedine al-Asbahi proclaimed that fighting in the country has “turned Yemen back 100 years,” due to the destruction of infrastructure. Provinces of Aden, Dhalea and Taiz, have suffered the most, al-Asbahi told a news conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Since the Saudi-led bombings started on March 26, more than 1,000 people, including an estimated 551 civilians have been killed, the United Nations said last week. UNICEF said at least 115 children were among the dead.

“The impact on civilians is the major concern – a bombing campaign has been happening for over a month, and a hundred of killed civilians are children,” Joe Stork from Human Rights Watch told RT.

Commenting on Monday’s UN Security Council meeting, Russia’s UN envoy, Vitaly Churkin said that the warring parties have agreed on some measures in resolving the conflict.

“They [the warring parties in Yemen] agreed on a whole series of arrangements for settling the political crisis. The only remaining issue was the way the collective leadership would be structured,” Churkin told reporters.

Last Tuesday, Saudi Arabia said the first phase of the campaign, codenamed operation Decisive Storm, had achieved all of its goals and was concluded. The new phase, operation Restoring Hope, was announced with a focus on diplomacy, but didn’t rule out new airstrikes. Less than 24 hours later, airstrikes resumed with fighting continuing until this day.

April 28, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Washington prepares for diplomatic war of attrition with Russia

RT | April 22, 2015

The US reportedly expects that the ongoing confrontation with Russia would continue until at least 2024 and involve many directions. Washington wants to rally support of its European allies to continue mounting pressure on Moscow.

The expected diplomatic and economic war of attrition is being outlined in a Russia policy review currently prepared by Celeste Wallander, special assistant to President Barack Obama and senior director for Russia and Eurasia on the National Security Council, reports Italian newspaper La Stampa. The publication said it learned details of the upcoming policy change from a preview that Washington sent to the Italian government to coordinate the future effort.

US diplomats say Russia changed the cooperative stance it assumed after the collapse of the Soviet Union and is now using force to defend its national interests, the paper said. The change is attributed to the personality of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who, Washington expects, will remain in power until at least 2024.

The change became apparent with the conflict in Ukraine, but was emerging since at least the 2008 conflict in South Ossetia, when Russia used military force after Georgia sent its army to subdue the rebellious region, killing Russian peacekeepers in the process.

Washington’s solution to the new Russia is keeping sanctions pressure on it while luring its neighbors away with economic aid and investment, La Stampa said. The current round of sanctions, it reports, was designed not to have too much impact on the Russian economy so that a threat of harsher sanctions could be applied.

While the tug of war in Europe continues into the next decade, Washington wants to continue cooperation with Russia in other areas like nuclear non-proliferation and space exploration. However until Putin is out of the picture, the US does not expect for things to go back to where they were, the newspaper said.

The strategy was hardly unnoticed in Moscow, as evidenced by the annual report of the Russian Foreign Ministry published on Wednesday. The document said the US is pursuing “a systematic obstruction to Russia, rallying its allies with the goal to damage domestic economy” through blocking credits, technology transfer and an overall destabilization of the business environment.

The ministry said Washington had some success with the policy that resulted in an almost 8 percent drop of Russia’s trade with EU members in 2014. However some European countries like Austria, Hungary or Slovakia are pragmatically keeping bilateral ties with Russia active. In European heavyweight Germany, whose government is among the leading supporters of the anti-Russian sanctions, there is a strong business resistance to keeping them.

Non-EU members in the region like Serbia and Turkey are among priority partners for Russia in the current environment, the ministry added.

April 22, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

UK creates ‘political & economic reform’ fund for Eastern Europe to contain Russia

RT | March 20, 2015

Prime Minister David Cameron has announced the creation of a money pot specifically designed to aid Eastern European countries in tackling any future ‘aggression’ from Russia.

The “Good Governance Fund is aimed at strengthening democratic institutions in areas that are wary of Russia’s influence. The fund will total £20 million ($30 million, €28 million) in 2015 and 2016.

It is broken down into £5 million for Ukraine, and continuing grants for Moldova, Georgia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia.

The announcement comes as leaders of the European Union agreed to extend the economic sanctions currently in place against Russia until the end of 2015, in a move to force Moscow to undertake a full ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.

The Minsk Agreement was reached in February after lengthy talks, but the truce has remained shaky. There have been reports of continuing skirmishes between Ukrainian forces and rebels.

EU leaders have criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin’s alleged “web of influence” across Europe after the reunification of Crimea in March 2014.

Earlier this month, the prime minister of Crimea said the former Ukrainian territory had returned to its historical homeland.

Russia has also formed an alliance with Cyprus, after Putin agreed a £1.8 billion loan for the country in return for the use of its docks for Russian military vessels.

Putin further created powerful western European allies following Marine Le Pens visit to Russia in the autumn. Russia has agreed to loan her party, the right-wing Front National, £6.5 million.

The Kremlin’s interests also extend to Greece, where Putin offered support to anti-austerity party Syriza when it campaigned for the country’s withdrawal from NATO two years ago.

When the party came to power in January, the Russian ambassador to Athens was one of the first to visit Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras.

The new fund is based on a Cold War program created by Margaret Thatcher in 1989.

At the time, her “Know-How-Fund” was used to help countries that had recently left the Soviet Union to develop, such as Hungary and Poland.

Russia denies it is providing rebels in Ukraine with arms and assistance.

The conflict has cost over 6,000 lives to date.

March 20, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , | 1 Comment

US admits 1980s aid to Israel’s H-bomb program

RT | February 13, 2015

Conceding to a federal lawsuit, the US government agreed to release a 1987 Defense Department report detailing US assistance to Israel in its development of a hydrogen bomb, which skirted international standards.

The 386-page report, “Critical Technology Assessment in Israel and NATO Nations,” likens top Israeli nuclear facilities to the Los Alamos and Oak Ridge National Laboratories that were key in the development of US nuclear weaponry.

Israelis are “developing the kind of codes which will enable them to make hydrogen bombs. That is, codes which detail fission and fusion processes on a microscopic and macroscopic level,” said the report, the release of which comes before Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s March 3 speech in front of the US Congress in which he will oppose any deal that allows Iran’s legal nuclear program to persist.

“I am struck by the degree of cooperation on specialized war making devices between Israel and the US,” Roger Mattson, a formerly of the Atomic Energy Commission’s technical staff, said of the report, according to Courthouse News.

The report’s release earlier this week was initiated by a Freedom of Information Act request made three years ago by Grant Smith, director of the Washington think tank Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy. Smith filed a lawsuit in September in order to compel the Pentagon to substantially address the request.

“It’s our basic position that in 1987 the Department of Defense discovered that Israel had a nuclear weapons program, detailed it and then has covered it up for 25 years in violation of the Symington and Glenn amendments, costing taxpayers $86 billion,” Smith said during a hearing in late 2014 before Judge Tanya Chutkan in US District Court for the District of Columbia.

Smith described in his federal court complaint how those federal laws were violated by the US in the midst of Israel’s budding nuclear program.

“The Symington Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 prohibits most U.S. foreign aid to any country found trafficking in nuclear enrichment equipment or technology outside international safeguards,” Smith wrote.

“The Glenn Amendment of 1977 calls for an end to U.S. foreign aid to countries that import nuclear reprocessing technology.”

In November, Judge Chutkan asked government lawyers resistant to the report’s release why it had taken years for the government to prepare the report for public consumption.

“I’d like to know what is taking so long for a 386-page document. The document was located some time ago,” Chutkan said, according to Courthouse News Service.

“I’ve reviewed my share of documents in my career. It should not take that long to review that document and decide what needs to be redacted.”

The government’s representatives in the case — Special Assistant US Attorney Laura Jennings and Defense Department counsel Mark Herrington — initially said confidentiality agreements required a “line by line” review of the Defense Department’s report. They later shifted, arguing that its release is optional and not mandatory, as “diplomatic relations dictate that DoD seeks Israel’s review.”

Smith and the US agreed that the government would redact sections of the report on NATO countries, though the passages on Israel remain intact.

“The capability of SOREQ [Soreq Nuclear Research Center] to support SDIO [Strategic Defense Initiative Organization, or “Star Wars”] and nuclear technologies is almost an exact parallel of the capability currently existing at our National Laboratories,” said the report, written by the Institute for Defense Analysis for the Department of Defense.

“SOREQ and Dimona/Beer Sheva facilities are the equivalent of our Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge National Laboratories…[and have] the technology base required for nuclear weapons design and fabrication.”

The report’s authors Edwin Townsley and Clarence Robinson found that Israel had Category 1 capability regarding its anti-tactical ballistic missile and “Star Wars” weapons programs.

“As far as nuclear technology is concerned the Israelis are roughly where the U.S. [w]as in the fission weapon field in about 1955 to 1960,” the report said. “It should be noted that the Israelis are developing the kind of codes which will enable them to make hydrogen bombs.”

In a statement on the report’s release, Smith said Thursday, “Informal and Freedom of Information Act release of such information is rare. Under two known gag orders — punishable by imprisonment — U.S. security-cleared government agency employees and contractors may not disclose that Israel has a nuclear weapons program.”

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s planned address before the US Congress was controversially arranged by Republican leadership without consultation of congressional Democrats or the White House.

The speech will occur weeks before Netanyahu will seek reelection, and is to center around his opposition to any agreement with Iran over its [civilian] nuclear program, a deal the US — while levying heavy sanctions on Tehran — has pursued despite protests from its preeminent ally [sic] in the Middle East, Israel.

Tehran’s nuclear program is legal under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Israel is one of the few United Nations members that is not a signatory.

February 13, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

‘Ukraine is pretext for US lobby to go on with sanctions against Russia’

RT | January 30, 2015

Anti-Russian sanctions are imposed as a hard neo-conservative lobby in America puts pressure on some European countries to go along with these sanctions, and to persuade other countries to do the same, journalist Neil Clark, told RT.

RT: The EU has extended individual sanctions but refrained from new economic restrictions. Why haven’t they gone further do you think?

Neil Clark: Well, it’s interesting, isn’t it? I think this reveals to us the split that there is within the EU. Because what we’ve got really, we’ve got the hard-line countries led unfortunately by Britain, countries like Poland, Lithuania and some others who really want an extension of sanctions. And then we’ve got the more realistic members, the countries that actually want to see these sanctions lifted. Of course, we remember just three weeks ago Francois Hollande, the French President, said that the EU hoped that sanctions would soon be lifted. And of course that would have caused a lot of horror among the anti-Russian camp. So I think what we saw [on Thursday] is the evidence of a real split. We haven’t had these measures that some people wanted, for example some of the more anti-Russian elements have been calling for Russia to be banned from the SWIFT banking system. And what we’ve seen is an extension of the existing sanctions so I think that this reflects the split within the EU at the moment.

RT: Russia’s been under American and European sanctions since last March. How much has it helped resolve the Ukrainian crisis?

NC: Well I think it’s very important to realize…Ukraine is really a pretext for these sanctions. What we’ve got is an anti-Russian lobby, a neo-conservative lobby in America which has for years wanted to sanction Russia. You go back to 2003 and you got neocons calling for Russia to be sanctioned. …This campaign for Russia to be sanctioned stepped up after the events in Syria in 2013 when Russia blocked a war against Syria…And then the Ukrainian situation kicked off as it were.

So I think it’s very important to realize it really that it has really nothing to do with the situation in Ukraine. These sanctions are being imposed, I’m afraid, because of a hard anti-Russian lobby in America and pressure’s been put on certain European countries that are very close to America to go along with these sanctions and to persuade other countries to go along with these sanctions.

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that when we talk about Ukraine the offenses launched by the Ukrainian government forces coincided with visits of high-ranking US officials. And I think that there would have been quite a lot of concern among this anti-Russian lobby in Washington when Francois Hollande did say three weeks ago that he would like to see sanctions lifted.And then what happens? American officials go to Ukraine and we get another offensive against the people in the East. Then the fighting there is used as a pretext for continuing on with the sanctions.

RT: There have been calls for the West to arm the Ukrainian army. Is that on the cards?

NC: It all really depends on what happens in Europe. It is actually crucial at the moment. We saw last night that vote at the Council of Europe – just how divided it was: 35 to 34. So I think there are certain countries in Europe… Poland has been called the 51st state of America, Poland is following the American line, and Britain unfortunately is. But there are other countries, Austria for example, who don’t really want to go down this road, who want to have a return to proper working relations with Russia, because Europe needs Russia. Europe needs a good working economic relationship with Russia. So it’s all a battle going on within the European Union now as to which fraction will actually prevail… So I think the hawks would love to see hard weaponry going to Ukraine, would love to see this conflict continue. But the more sensible countries in Europe want to see an end to it and get back to normal relations with Russia which is in Europe’s interest.

RT: On Wednesday two Russian bombers were detected flying over the Channel which provoked an outcry in the British media as they supposedly ‘disrupted UK aviation’, though these bombers didn’t violate other countries’ borders. What do you think about this situation?

NC: Well I think it’s very interesting, isn’t it, that this big news story happened when the EU was discussing the issue of sanctions with Russia. And I think it happened before, when we had…this debate about whether to extent or deepen sanctions, increase sanctions on Russia…And headlines that come up, you know “Russian bombers over the Channel”, but then we found out that it wasn’t exactly as it was first reported. So I think that in this anti-Russian climate we‘ve got to be careful when we look at the news headlines. There is an agenda going on, there is anti-Russian lobby in the West unfortunately which wants to keep this going and to keep more excuses and pretexts for the sanctions on Russia. So I think we have got to keep cool heads and you know look at bigger context of the stories and it seems quite interesting that every time we are getting these discussions about sanctions on Russia, that this sort of incidents seem to occur.

READ MORE:

UK fighter jets scrambled to intercept Russian bombers

EU foreign ministers extend sanctions against Russian officials, E. Ukraine rebels

EU Parliament wants to keep Russia sanctions, set ‘benchmarks’ for lifting them

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January 31, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Greek govt furious over EU ‘unequivocal’ anti-Russia statement

RT | January 28, 2015

The new Greek government has spoken out against the EU partners over the statement that lays the blame for Saturday’s fatal attack on the Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Russia. Hungary, Slovakia, and Austria voiced similar objections earlier.

The government, headed by Prime Minister Alexis Tripras, said in a press release on Tuesday that “the aforementioned statement was released without the prescribed procedure to obtain consent by the member states, and particularly without ensuring the consent of Greece.”

“In this context, it is underlined that Greece does not consent to this statement,” Tsipras added.

He voiced his “discontent” in a phone call to EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini.

The EU statement was published on Tuesday morning, saying that all 28 EU leaders had agreed that Russia bears “responsibility” for a rocket attack on the city of Mariupol that left 30 people dead on Saturday.

Brussels objected that the Greek government had been informed about the statement on Russia and Ukraine, but no one had contradicted it until Tuesday.

European Council President Donald Tusk initiated the EU statement, and claimed he had called Tsipras and the “sherpas” – top officials taking care of EU issues in each leader’s office.

One EU diplomat reportedly said that Greece had attempted to remove the line blaming Russia for the Mariupol killing. Also, Austria, Hungary, and Slovakia tried, and failed, to “water down” the communiqué, the EU Observer website stated.

It’s the first time that such a situation – a retroactive abjuration of an EU line – has happened, EU Council official stressed.

Foreign affairs analyst Serja Trifkovich told RT that other countries might follow suit and oppose Brussels’ policies on the Ukrainian crisis.

“It’s very difficult in the EU to break the ranks. Now that Greece has made a move, I confidently expect that the Hungarians in particular, but perhaps also Slovakia and Cyprus, will [find] the courage to say no to the dictate from Brussels.”

The EU statement on Russia and Ukraine also urged for more sanctions, for considering “any appropriate action” against Moscow.

One of the measures being mulled is to block Russia from the global interbank SWIFT payment system.

Economist Max Fraad Wolff told RT that this would be a drastic measure.

“Let’s be fair and honest here: if you’re cut off from SWIFT, your ability to have any kind of normal business flow with the global commerce community is hampered.”

However, what he envisages is that “cooler heads will prevail” and that “we won’t see Russia cut off from the SWIFT system,” as it is “in very few parties’ long-term interests.”

January 28, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Video | , , , , | 1 Comment

Russia loses $140bn with sanctions and falling oil prices – Finance Minister

RT | November 24, 2014

Russia is losing around $40 billion a year due to Western sanctions, but they are not as critical to the economy as lower oil prices, which add $90-100 billion in losses, says Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov.

“We lose about $40 billion a year because of the political sanctions and around $90-100 billion a year due to the 30 percent reduction in oil prices,” RIA quotes Siluanov speaking Monday at the International Financial and Economic Forum.

Lower investment and foreign loans along with capital outflow, estimated at $130 billion this year, are the key components of the loss, Siluanov explained.

Siluanov believes the decline in oil prices has a more significant impact on the Russian economy than the international sanctions.

“If we talk about the consequences of geopolitics, of course, they are important for us,” he said. However, he added that “it is not as critical for the course, and even for the budget, as the prices of goods exported by us.”

Talking about the ruble’s depreciation, Siluanov said that fluctuating oil prices should serve as a principal indicator of the ruble’s exchange rate amid a period of high volatility.

“The price of oil has fallen by 30 percent since the beginning of the year. Incidentally, the ruble has weakened by the same 30 percent. When people ask me – listen, you’re the Minister of Finance, what’s the ruble rate going to be? It is impossible to answer because there are a lot of factors. I say, look at oil prices. The behavior of the ruble will depend on them,” said Siluanov.

The price of Brent crude, which is used to calculate the price for Russian Urals blend, has fallen by 30 percent to about $80 a barrel since the end of June; its lowest price for four years.

According to the International Energy Agency, the total supply of oil on the world market in October increased by 35 thousand barrels to 94.2 million (2.7 million barrels more than in October 2013). In the same period, the average daily volume of oil supplies by OPEC countries in the world market amounted to 30.6 million barrels.

OPEC countries are also adding to the oversupply as they’ve been exceeding their quota of 30 million barrels per day for the last six months.

According to IEA experts, the decline in oil demand from China, world’s second largest oil consumer, and rising oil production in the US will lead to a sharper decline in prices in early 2015.

On November 27, OPEC leaders will meet in Vienna to decide whether to shore up oil prices by cutting output.

November 24, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 1 Comment

EU trying to force Serbia into Russia sanctions club, says senior MP

RT | November 20, 2014

The EU’s attempts to coerce Serbia into joining anti-Russian sanctions are nothing but blackmail, says the head of the State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee.

“Presently the European Union is trying to force Serbia, which is not an EU member, to join their sanctions program. They are practically blackmailing Serbia: either it joins the sanctions against Russia or [the bloc] won’t see it as a country with a chance of joining the EU,” MP Aleksey Pushkov (United Russia) told reporters at a Thursday press conference in Moscow.

“The problem for Serbia is that in any case it has no prospects for joining the EU anytime soon. Even if they join the anti-Russian sanctions now, they would simply succumb to blackmailers and no one would accept them in the EU in one year for doing this,” he added.

The comments came after the EU’s Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said that Serbia would have to join EU sanctions against Moscow if it wants to be part of the European Union.

“Serbia has taken a legislative commitment within the EU accession negotiations to bring its positions in line with those of the EU. Harmonization includes the tough issues as well, like the tough issue of sanctions against Russia. We are expecting of Serbia to hold on to these commitments,” RIA Novosti quoted Hahn as saying.

This was a radical change of position as just days earlier, after a meeting with Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, Hahn assured the press that the EU was not asking Serbia to impose sanctions against Russia. Back then, the commissioner acknowledged that such decisions were a sovereign matter of the Serbian government and the sanctions and Serbian membership in the EU were in no way connected.

Serbian Ambassador to Moscow Slavenko Terzić told Interfax on Thursday that for the moment his country had no intention of joining the sanctions, but in future the question could be raised at the Serbia-EU talks. “It is possible that Serbia would gradually begin to coordinate its position on various international issues with the one of the EU, but today our country is not ready to join the anti-Russian sanctions for many reasons, including because of the fact that Serbia and Russia are strategic allies,” the diplomat noted.

November 20, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment