Two Crises, Two Approaches—Korea and Iran
May 9 (EIRNS)—The crisis in Korea and the crisis in Iran have very different predicates, but it is most useful to compare the way in which one is being solved, while the other appears to be careening out of control. Just as many people and many national leaders around the world were screaming that war was about to break out in Korea just a few months ago, we hear similar cries about Iran today.
Look at Korea. Two serious efforts were made in the past decades to reach an agreement with Pyongyang to end their nuclear weapons programs, but both were sabotaged by a lack of trust between North Korea, the U.S., China and Russia. The current historic breakthrough, although not yet consolidated, was made possible by the fact that Presidents Donald Trump, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin worked closely together, in collaboration with the Moon government in Seoul, to present a global solution, which all sides could trust, not just to achieve denuclearization, but to create conditions for joint development as part of the New Silk Road. As U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said today after meeting with Kim Jong-un and General Kim Yong-choi in Pyongyang: “For decades we have been adversaries. Now we are hopeful that we can work together to resolve the conflict, take away the threats to the world, and make your country have all the opportunities you so richly deserve.” Now, South Korea, Russia, and China are mapping out grand development plans for the entire region, with North Korea now playing a central role. Both the U.S. and Japan are in support.
Look at Iran. If the Iran nuclear deal were upheld, would that lead to peace and development in the Mideast? Was trust restored on all sides? The answer is obvious. It is a deal that addressed only one aspect of a massive, historic conflict, carefully nurtured by the British Empire over a century, creating and provoking a state of permanent conflict, between Arab and Jew, Sunni and Shi’a, and territorial conflicts created intentionally by Sykes-Picot.
President Trump has blustered against Iran, as he did once against North Korea. His motivations, and the motivations of those around him, are varied and not known. But, Trump has made clear that he wants an end to regime change, to America as the world’s policeman (on behalf of the British Empire, he should have added). The entire Mideast cauldron is now poised for adopting a new approach. It could easily be war, which could easily explode into world war. The danger is great. But it also could result in new negotiations, in public and in private, that address the real problem, the entire problem, not just one piece. This is what the LaRouche movement has called for for fifty years.
Helga Zepp-LaRouche today in her weekly webcast, said:
“I think there is general concern voiced by many countries and forces, for example, China, Russia, but also Merkel, Macron, May, they all expressed concern that this is potentially a very dangerous development, because it could easily spin out of control….
“Obviously, given the condition of the entire Middle East, after the destructive wars in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, it is very clear that the only thing which will really solve the problems of this region would be what I have said many times before: You need the extension of the New Silk Road into the entire region, from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean, from the Caucasus to the Persian Gulf, and have a development plan for all of these countries as an integrated one. And this could only work if Russia, China, India, Iran, Egypt, the United States, and hopefully European countries, are all agreeing that this region must be economically built up. And the only way you can have peace in a region, and really get rid of terrorism, is if you have a perspective for the hope for the future.
“So I would really hope that if President Trump says he has an alternative plan, a more comprehensive plan, that it should absolutely include joint ventures of the United States, Russia, China, India in the development of this region. A beginning was made between President Xi Jinping and India’s Prime Minister Modi when they met in Wuhan a week ago, where India and China said they would start joint development projects in Afghanistan, building a railroad from Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, China, and that would be the beginning of many other projects to follow. You need a comprehensive development plan for it to work. And so, I would really hope that President Trump would think in that direction, because I think that’s the only way it could be stabilized.”
U.S. POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC
Secretary Pompeo in North Korea Upbeat about Kim-Trump Summit
May 9 (EIRNS)—In his meetings in North Korea with leader Kim Jong-un and other high-level officials, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed optimism that a successful summit between President Trump and Kim is possible, and that beyond the issue of denuclearization, the potential for broader cooperation exists.
Pompeo told reporters that the purpose of his trip was “to put into place a framework for a successful summit.” In returning to the U.S. today, Pompeo told reporters that the summit with Kim will last one day, but that “if there is more to discuss,” it will extend into a second day.
Today, Trump said that the time and place of the summit will be announced in three days.
Yesterday, in announcing that Pompeo was on his way to Pyongyang, President Trump reported that “plans are being made, relationships are building, hopefully a deal will happen, and with the help of China, South Korea, and Japan, a future of great prosperity and security can be achieved for everyone.”
Pompeo met with Kim Jong-un for about 90 minutes, and then also met with Gen. Kim Yong-choi, of the United Front Department in charge of inter-Korean relations. He told Kim Jong-un that “for decades we’ve been adversaries. Now we are hopeful that we can work together to resolve this conflict, take away the threats to the world and make your country have all the opportunities you so richly deserve.” Kim responded that he had “high expectations the U.S. will play a very big role in establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula,” to which Pompeo responded, that the U.S. “is equally committed to working with you on exactly [that].”
General Kim told Pompeo over lunch yesterday that détente on the Peninsula wasn’t the result of U.S. sanctions and pressure, but rather, “was the will of the Korean people.” He emphasized that now, since Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal is complete, the focus would be on economic development. Pompeo described General Kim as “a great partner” in preparing for the summit, but had cautioned earlier that there would be no let-up in sanctions.
As a sign of good will, North Korea has released three Americans who had been detained in the country for some time, and who will return to the U.S. with Pompeo. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said today that President Trump “appreciates leader Kim Jong-un’s action to release these American citizens and views this as a positive gesture of good will.”
Sen. Rand Paul: Congress Abdicates Constitutional Duty in New Military Force Authorization
May 9 (EIRNS)—In an article published in the American ConservativeMay 7, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), denounced the new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) put forward by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), which, Paul charges, represents a shameful abdication of Congress’s constitutional responsibility to declare war.
Instead, he continued, the new AUMF intends to “codify the unacceptable, unconstitutional status quo, which says that we are at war anywhere and anytime the President says so.” This isn’t an AUMF, he continues, but rather a “complete rewriting of the role of the executive and of the constitutional separation of powers.”
How so? It specifies that war can be declared on people and places in at least 20 nations, naming, among others, the “Taliban, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, ISIS anywhere, … Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, in Niger, Algeria, Libya and Nigeria, and ‘associated forces’ (as defined by the President) around the globe.” This, he says, is “simply breathtaking.” Previous AUMFs have never included “associated forces, and with good reason.” Yet the Kaine/Corker AUMF not only codifies military action against those associated forces, but by conservative estimates authorizes war in 20 nations.
Moreover, “it provides even more expansive war-making authority to the executive branch than the status quo.” If it is passed, Paul warns, Congress “will have chosen to make itself irrelevant on the issue of war.” It would allow the executive “unlimited latitude in determining war” and leave Congress debating such action after forces have already been committed. Under this resolution, he says further, Congress could only disapprove of a war, which could be vetoed by a two-thirds vote in Congress, as opposed to the majority that is required to approve of one.
Thus far, the House leadership has not been willing to allow the bill to come to the floor.
STRATEGIC WAR DANGER
Putin to Victory Parade: Soviets Won World War II
May 9 (EIRNS)—President Putin addressed the military parade on Red Square today, commemorating the 73rd anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.
“Today there are attempts to deny the feat of the people, which saved Europe and the world from slavery, from extermination and from the horrors of the Holocaust, and attempts to bury in oblivion the authenticity of the heroes, falsify, re-write and distort the entire history. We will never allow this,” he said, reported TASS.
Speaking of the moment that the Soviet Army drove the Nazis back into Germany, Putin said: “This long-awaited word immediately spread across the planet and all the countries and all the peoples understood then that it was the Soviet Union that decided the outcome of World War II and that this great sacrificial deed was made by our soldiers and our people,” stating that it had cost the country irretrievable losses.
He said pointedly: “The country will always be proud that the Soviet people did not falter and did not give in to the cruel enemy when some countries preferred the disgrace of capitulation and the hypocritical compromise or direct collaboration with the Nazis….
“Actually impossible things were done: No one thought about himself, and both women and children were working heroically. For the sake of their Motherland, for the sake of the victory and for the sake of those who were defending the country, their families in the heat of the war,” Putin said.
Rouhani Maintains Iran Will Remain in Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
May 9 (EIRNS)—Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, during a television address following President Trump’s announcement that the U.S. would be withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, said that Iran would remain in it without the U.S.
“From now on, the Iran nuclear deal will be a deal between Iran and five countries,” he said, reported Tasnim News. “The Group 5+1 has lost one of its parties.” He then announced that he has ordered the Foreign Ministry to start talks with the other five parties to the nuclear deal within the coming weeks. “After these talks,” Rouhani said, “If we conclude that we can achieve the results we expected from the deal, the JCPOA will remain in place regardless of the U.S. decision.” The other five countries are Russia, China, Germany, France, and the U.K.
Earlier in his remarks, Rouhani reported that Tehran has adopted necessary measures to confront new anti-Iran pressures, saying that his U.S. counterpart is launching psychological war and economic pressure on Tehran by announcing withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal.
“Trump is exerting economic pressure on Iran and launching psychological war, but we won’t let him achieve what he wants,” Rouhani said. “Tonight, it was proved that we were right for decades. Iran is a country that remains committed to its promises, and the U.S. is a country that has never lived up to its commitments.”
Nonetheless, he is making clear that Iran will engage in further discussions for a new arrangement.
The leadership of both the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Iranian military issued much harder-line statements welcoming Trump’s announcement.
Israeli Analyst Says Trump Leaves the Door Open for Negotiation over Iran
May 9 (EIRNS)—Senior Israeli security commentator Ron Ben-Yishai writes today in Ynetnews that President Donald Trump’s announcement of U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement aims at starting a new negotiation process. Whereas Trump has given 180 days for European, Chinese, and Russian companies to wind down their activities in Iran, after which sanctions against them will take effect, Ben-Yishai points out that this is, in effect, a “wide window” for negotiations. Furthermore, Trump made it clear that if the Iranians are willing to make amendments to the existing agreement, he would be willing to call off the American withdrawal.
The amendments Trump is looking for include restrictions on the development of medium- and long-range ballistic missiles; changing the “sunset provisions,” under which Iran would be able to enrich as much uranium as it wants, as fast as it wants, after 15 years; tightening the supervision over the development of nuclear warheads for missiles; securing a commitment from Iran to stop aiding terror and guerrilla organizations led by Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Houthis in Yemen. But, Ben-Yishai states, Trump failed to clarify how he wants to fix the flaws in the existing agreement. He is leaving it to the Europeans, who will conduct the negotiations, if the Iranians agree to renew the talks.
Ben-Yishai said Trump had mentioned the agreement with North Korea, that he wanted to stress that his strict policy vis-à-vis Pyongyang proved itself, and that there is good reason to believe that, eventually, the Iranians will seek a compromise, too. Trump reiterated that North Korea was ready for negotiations and a reconciliation with the U.S., despite his strict policy.
Ben-Yishai pointed to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s indirect confirmation of this assumption, when he said that Iran would stay in Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) without Washington. Rouhani warned, however, that Iran would revive full-scale enrichment if talks failed. In other words, Iran is prepared to hold talks with the other five signers that will try to mediate and reach new understandings which may comply with the American demands.
COLLAPSING WESTERN FINANCIAL SYSTEM
Putin: Russia Must Free Itself of ‘Dollar Monopoly’ To Achieve Economic Sovereignty
May 9 (EIRNS)—In a speech yesterday before the Federal Assembly after his inauguration, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the burden that the “dollar monopoly” represents for Russia, and said that, in order to achieve greater economic sovereignty, it will be necessary to free the economy from it, according to reports by TASS and Sputnik. “Certainly, we are thinking about what we need to do in order to get free of this burden,” Putin said.
Diversification of reserves is one way, he said, and “we will continue to do it.”
The Russian President pointed out, reported Sputnik, that “we used to behave naively, but now we see that the World Trade Organization rules are broken all too often, and restrictions [sanctions] are imposed for political reasons, plus more and more of them are imposed to secure favored competitive advantages.” He warned that the dollar monopoly is dangerous, “not just for us but for many,” and that for underlying security-related reasons, particularly as this relates to the pricing of oil in global commodity markets, it’s time to look for alternatives.
Sputnik observes that Putin’s statement comes less than two months after China launched yuan-denominated oil futures on the Shanghai International Energy Exchange, thus challenging the dominance of the Brent and West Texas Intermediate benchmarks. Citing a source close to the top management of the St. Petersburg Stock Exchange, columnist Igor Naumov says Russia is ready to support the Chinese contracts.
“Currently the U.S. dollar is used as the contract currency in the global hydrocarbon trading system, as well as for other commodities. This is what largely provides the dollar with its status as the world’s leading reserve currency. However, the yuan is seeking to dislodge the American [petrodollar] from one of the fastest growing markets in the world,” Naumov explained.
Russia is now China’s largest crude supplier, displacing Saudi Arabia and Angola. In January a second pipeline for importing Russia’s East Siberia-Pacific Ocean Crude began to pump oil, doubling China’s import capacity to 30 million metric tons annually. In December 2017, Russia’s Finance Ministry announced plans to place an issue of yuan-denominated bonds worth $1 billion on the Russian domestic market this year.
THE NEW GLOBAL ECONOMIC ORDER
Japan, South Korea, China Summit Vows To Expand Cooperation, Seek Korean Peace
May 9 (EIRNS)—In talks in Tokyo today, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in vowed to expand regional cooperation and work toward ensuring peace on the Korean Peninsula. They agreed to meet on a regular basis to function as “inseparable trade partners,” as President Moon explained it, and to also pursue a trilateral free-trade agreement and safeguard the “rules-based multilateral trade system.”
This was the first meeting of the three East Asian powers since 2015, marking a new spirit of cooperation.
They also issued a statement on the South-North Korean summit, welcoming “confirmation of the goal of complete denuclearization and expect[ing] the North [Korea]-U.S. summit will be successfully held.”
In his remarks to the trilateral summit, and at a separate business forum attended by all three, China’s Premier Li proposed that they carry out joint projects in the region, with an emphasis on areas of industrial capacity cooperation, trade, poverty reduction, disaster management, and innovation cooperation, among others, which he said could be carried out through a “China-Japan-South Korea + X” cooperation model. The Belt and Road Initiative, he underscored, is creating new opportunities for cooperation among the three, and he pointed out that, given the level of their development, and the development deficit in other parts of Asia, these three nations should play a major role in terms of equipment technology and of capital and engineering construction to jointly open up a fourth-party, or even a multi-party market, to promote the rapid development of Asian countries.
Global Times points out that, if the UN lifts sanctions on North Korea, it could very likely become the “X” in the new cooperation framework proposed by Li, whose ultimate goal is to establish a multilateral platform to promote Asian development. Li suggested that the three countries could perhaps earmark certain projects or certain countries as starting points to begin cooperation, also signalling that North Korea would be an appropriate partner.
Li observed that there has been slow progress on economic integration in the whole region, because North Korea is a closed economy under UN sanctions, but that if Pyongyang can be involved in the new cooperation framework, everyone will benefit.
He underscored that the situation on the Korean Peninsula is at a critical juncture for improvement, and that dialogue and reconciliation should be top priorities.
“We are also in favor of dialogues among parties in various forms to address both the symptoms and root causes, promote a political settlement on the Peninsula, and establish a peace mechanism so as to achieve lasting peace in the region,” he said, Xinhua reported.
Turkey Plans $46 Billion in Railway Investments, Transport Minister Tells Conference
May 9 (EIRNS) —“Turkey is the second-largest country after China in railway constructions. Our target is to complete 11,700 km of high-speed railway lines by 2023 and to link 41 cities to each other,” said Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan.
Turkey will invest $46.4 billion on railways in the next five years, Arslan said on May 8, at the opening ceremony of the 10th World Congress on High-Speed Rail being held in Ankara over May 8-11. More than 1,000 experts in high-speed rail from around the world will meet in the congress, which is themed, “Sharing Knowledge for Sustainable and Competitive Operations.”
“Our target is to transform all our lines to electrically operated ones and raise our productivity to the maximum level until 2023,” Arslan said.
In the last 15 years, Turkey has invested $25 billion in its railways, including high-speed trains, he said, and a 1,213- km high-speed railway line is in operation in Turkey.
“The construction of 3,798 km of the railway is underway and 11,582 km of railway projects are in the process of auctioning and planning,” he said, reported Hurriyet Daily News.
Isa Apaydin, director general of the Turkish State Railways, said there are 41,000 km of high-speed railway lines in the world, and that figure will nearly double in the coming years. “High-speed trains are the motor power of Industry 4.0; they provide productivity for all areas,” he said.
Renato Mazzoncini, president of the International Union of Railways (UIC), said 1.6 billion passengers use high-speed trains annually. “These trains not only change tourism and economy, they also change people’s lifestyle,” he said.
SCIENCE AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Putin Recognizes U.S. Apollo-Soyuz Astronaut as Model in U.S.-Russia Cooperation
May 9 (EIRNS)—One month ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded retired U.S. astronaut Tom Stafford the “Order of Friendship” for his “great contribution to developing cooperation in the field of space exploration between the Russian Federation and the United States of America.” Since his command of the American ship in the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975, Stafford has played a central and unwavering role in promoting and carrying out joint space programs with the Soviet Union, and after 1991, with the Russian Federation. For his role in that first joint manned mission, in the midst of the Cold War, Stafford was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, reported Oklahoma television station KFOR on April 10, from Stafford’s hometown of Weatherford.
“What made Tom so effective” during the Apollo Soyuz Test Project program, former flight director and Johnson Space Center Director Chris Kraft told KFOR “is that the Soviets trusted him, and so did the Americans.”
Stafford and his Russian counterpart in the 1975 mission, cosmonaut Alexey Leonov, have maintained a close personal friendship over these decades. Stafford became a staunch supporter and advocate of cooperation with Russia, from which he never wavered, regardless of political ups and downs. He was the American expert responsible for safety considerations for Space Shuttle visits to the Russian Mir space station in the 1990s, and for technical decisions regarding the International Space Station, for the past 20 years.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the ISS, a documentary filmed on the station, “Above It All,” is due to be released in December. The film’s experienced writer/director Al Reinert, and producer/editor John Aldrich, interviewed Tom Stafford last year.
From their interview, the documentary describes how the Apollo-Soyuz mission came together from a proposal by engineers from the two countries, who shared a dream.
Malaysia’s Mahathir Is Back!—Shock Victory Against Najib
May 9 (EIRNS)—Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, at 92, has just been elected Prime Minister of Malaysia. Mahathir, who served as Prime Minister from 1981 to 2003, and famously stood up to George Soros and the IMF in the 1997-98 “Asia Crisis,” formed a coalition to run against Prime Minister Najib Razak, winning about 130 parliamentary seats out of 222 (final results are pending), as well as winning the state legislatures in about 7 states (out of 13). Malaysian elites are reported to be in a state of shock.
The ruling UMNO party (United Malays National Organization) of Najib, until today, had been in power (in different coalitions) for 61 years, since Malaysia won independence from the British in 1957. Mahathir was the longest-serving Prime Minister of UMNO. In 2015, however, he launched a fight against Najib and the party over corruption, which reached a peak with the scandal over 1MDB (One Malaysia Development Berhad), a development fund set up by Najib. $700 million went missing from 1MDB and showed up in accounts connected to Najib. Mahathir formed his own party, joined a coalition (Pakatan Harapan), and now has won the national election.
There is a huge question as to what will happen under the new coalition government, since the way Mahathir won was by joining with many of his old enemies, and especially with Anwar Ibrahim. When Mahathir rejected IMF demands in 1998, his deputy at the time, Anwar, supported the IMF, and was fired by Mahathir. Anwar was historically connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, and subsequently connected with George Soros, Al Gore, Paul Wolfowitz, and other such miscreants. He became Mahathir’s sworn enemy, on behalf of his foreign backers in London and the U.S. Anwar is currently in prison, on charges of sexual perversions, but will be released next month, although he will be ineligible for political activity for two more years.
Mahathir not only joined forces with his enemy Anwar and his party, but also announced this morning that he will serve as Prime Minister for at most two years, at which point Anwar will take over.
Mahathir also campaigned against Najib’s close ties to China, since the Chinese investments in the country, and in purchasing assets belonging to 1MDB, served to cover some of Najib’s corruption.
However, sources tell EIR that Mahathir is not likely to change foreign policy, especially regarding China, since he was partially responsible for the close relations between Malaysia and China, and also because the Chinese investments are critical to the economy and to Malaysia’s future.
The same cannot be said about how Anwar will rule, if, in fact, he becomes Prime Minister in two years. Mahathir, who has granted several interviews to EIR over the years, has changed course many times in the past and may do so again.