Probing the Attempted Murder of an Ex-Spy

Recall that an ex-spy and his daughter were attacked in a British park with a view to killing at least the ex-spy.  The weapon used was a nerve gas that’s only made in Russia.  The investigation itself is pointing strongly at Moscow as the instigator of the murder attempt; although the investigation is not complete.  Now Russia is refusing to cooperate in the investigation unless certain conditions are met.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow would only cooperate with the UK’s investigation into the nerve-agent poisoning of a former spy if London supplied the substance in question and opened up the probe to Russian officials.

Better than Nothing

…and good for the region, although not as good as it could have been with US involvement.

Japan, Canada, Mexico and eight other Pacific nations [Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam] are set to sign a new version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, on Thursday.

This is a missed opportunity for the United States and a foreign policy mistake by President Donald Trump.

The goal of the pact is to open borders to more trade in the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific region and to set international standards, which many see as crucial to managing the encroaching dominance of China….

Peace in our Time

Republic of Korea’s envoy trip to northern Korea has produced a Baby Kim promise to play nice with the RoK and to talk with us about nuclear weapons.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un promised to not use nuclear or conventional weapons against South Korea and expressed willingness to hold talks with the United States on denuclearization, Seoul said on Tuesday after a rare two-day visit to Pyongyang.

The Hermit Kingdom added that it’s willing to give up its nuclear weapons if military threats against North Korea subsides….

RoK National Security Director Chung Eui-yong said after his safe return to Seoul

The Russian Attitude Toward Rule of Law

And the value of any contract with Russia.  These are demonstrated by Russian behavior regarding Russian natural gas flowing through Ukraine to western Europe.

Having won an arbitration dispute with Russian-controlled Gazprom over natural gas shipments to Ukraine, Gazprom and the Kremlin decided not to honor the ruling or the commitment:

Russia is tearing up its contracts to supply Ukraine with natural gas, sparking another stand-off between Moscow and Kiev and raising fears of new gas supply shortages across Europe during the winter.

In response,

Tariffs and National Security

In response to President Donald Trump’s of tariffs to be applied to imports of steel and aluminum at some unspecified in the (presumably relatively near) future and coming from as yet unnamed nations, Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko said

I believe there is absolutely no impact on America’s national security from imports of steel and aluminum from Japan, which is an allied nation.

I agree in principle with the generally negative attitude toward tariffs.

However, Seko has misunderstood the national security question. Stipulate that Japan (and the Republic of Korea, another staunch ally and key exporter of steel to us) is a strong and reliable ally.

“Dialog” with Northern Korea

Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in wants the US to “lower the threshold for dialogue” so that “dialog” with northern Korea can begin.  Adding offensiveness to the foolishness, Moon didn’t even suggest this to us; he said it to People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping via a meeting with an envoy of Xi’s.

No.  The onus is on northern Korea to “lower the threshold.”  Until Baby Kim agrees to discuss—seriously discuss, not just engage in idle chit-chat—the dissolution of his nuclear weapons program and of his nuclear weapons, there is no basis for dialog.

Full stop.

Telecommunications Security

The US is concerned about People’s Republic of China’s cell phone company, Huawei, and the threat it poses to our national security, through an ability to use its equipment to conduct espionage and to shut down our communications networks, were it to get a significant foothold in our cell phone network, whether via its cell phones or its network equipment—its routers, switches, and cell-tower gear.  The concern stems from Huawei’s relationship with the PRC government, which makes the company an arm of that government.

Trusting Russia on Ukraine

The US and Russia, along with NATO and Ukrainian officials, talked about setting up a peace-keeping force to get and maintain peace in Ukraine.  Interestingly, that force would be placed along the front that separates the Russian and rebel-held eastern Ukraine from the rest of the nation instead of being on the Ukrainian border with Russia.  The proposal also carefully ignored the status of Russia-occupied Crimea.  A US counterproposal, offered by the US’ chief negotiator, Kurt Volker, suggested that the force should include, also, that border—not instead of the front—while still ignoring Crimea.

Understanding

On the question of the Russian threat, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had this to say in an interview with Spiegel Online:

Of course, I do hope that we can come to agreement with the Russians in the future. At the moment, though, it is good to be strong militarily. That makes understanding easier.

Yewbetcha.

Diplomacy and Northern Korea

The Wall Street Journal‘s Gerald Seib had a piece extolling the virtues of the Republic of Korea’s willingness to engage in formal, summit-level diplomacy with northern Korea coupled with President Donald Trump’s sub rosa willingness to talk.

There were, though, some serious misunderstandings in the article.  Here are a couple:

[T]here is no way to know for sure what the North Koreans are willing to give up without testing their intentions.

Apparently Seib has been doing a Rip van Winkle impression. For the last 25 years, the northern Korean government has said they’ll never give up their nuclear weapons goals.  We know for sure that what northern Korea is willing to give up is nothing.