China Resists US Push To Blacklist Ships Caught Trading With North Korea

After the US Treasury Department released satellite images purporting to show Chinese ships transferring oil to a North Korea-flagged vessel in blatant violation of UN Security Council sanctions, the US is pressing for 10 ships, several of them Chinese, to be added to the list of entities banned by the UN.
But there’s one problem: China, which like the US holds a permanent veto over UN Security Council decisions, is pushing back. It says it will only accept sanctions on four ships, according to the Wall Street Journal.
While there’s some skepticism about how well these rules are enforced, UN sanctions would require members to bar blacklisted ships from their ports.
A Security Council resolution passed last week gives member states more authority to seize the ships that have breached international sanctions and ban them from their ports. And the satellite images mentioned above have shown just how easily North Korea has managed to circumvent sanctions managed to restrict energy flowing into the country while also choking off its exports of North Korean coal.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Fri, 12/29/2017 –.

TENSIONS FLARE AS US RECON SATELLITES EXPOSE CHINESE SHIPS ILLEGALLY SELLING OIL TO NORTH KOREA

According to South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo, U. S. recon satellites have photographed around 30 illegal transactions involving Chinese vessels selling oil to North Korea.
Washington, D. C. – United States reconnaissance satellites have allegedly caught Chinese ships violating UN sanctions by engaging in illegal oil trades with North Korean vessels nearly 30 times in October.
The images were captured in the West Sea on October 19, prior to the most recent round of sanctions on the DPRK, which caps oil product shipments at 500K barrels per year, going into effect.
The satellite footage reveals a North Korean ship, named Ryesonggang 1, connected with a Chinese ship in what was deemed a ship-to-ship oil transfer, which is prohibited and deemed illegal by U. S. authorities.
According to the U. S. Department of the Treasury’s official report on the incident:

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on DECEMBER 27, 2017.

North Korea’s Grandstanding And US Inaction Will Likely Continue In 2018

Authored by Duane Norman via Free Market Shooter blog,
2017 has seen President Trump’s administration make a marked departure in how North Korea is ‘handled’ by the United States.
***
Whereas past administrations were more predictable, waiting for North Korea to act bellicose before they acceded to relief from sanctions, the Trump administration has done no such thing, instead choosing to implement more sanctions on the North Korean regime following its weapons tests.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Thu, 12/28/2017.

Russia Tests Powerful ICBM Capable Of Overcoming Missile-Defense Systems

As North Korea vociferously condemns the US and the United Nations after the Security Council passed yet another round of sanctionsagainst the restive regime, Russia is continuing to test ICBMs in preparation for a violent conflict on the neighboring Korean Peninsula while simultaneous calling for both sides to seek mediation.
Last night, Russia’s Strategic Missile Force tested the RS-12M Topol intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) at the Kapustin Yar practice range in the southern Astrakhan Region, the TASS News Agency reported Tuesday.
“On December 26, 2017, a combat team of the Strategic Missile Force test-fired an RS-12M Topol intercontinental ballistic missile from the Kapustin Yar state central combined arms training range in the Astrakhan Region,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said.
“The launch was aimed at testing perspective armament for intercontinental ballistic missiles,” the ministry said.
“During the tests, specialists obtained experimental data that will be used in the interests of developing effective means of overcoming anti-ballistic missile defense and equipping the perspective grouping of Russian ballistic missiles with them,” the Defense Ministry said.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 26, 2017.

North Korea Declares New Sanctions An “Act Of War,” Refuses To Ever Abandon Its Nukes

North Korea strongly rejected the latest United Nations sanctions resolution, calling it an ‘act of war’ against the rogue regime.
The U. N. Security Council unanimously decided Friday to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea in response to the North’s test of a new intercontinental ballistic missile that some experts suggest can range the entire continental U. S.
Resolution 2397 bans nearly 90 percent of North Korea’s refined petroleum imports and sets new restrictions on other essential imports, such as heavy machinery.
The punitive resolution also demands the repatriation of North Korean workers generating funds for the regime abroad and puts greater pressure on North Korean shipping.
Pyongyang called on the U. S. and its international partners to ‘wake up from its pipe dream of our country giving up nuclear weapons’ and learn to ‘co-exist with the country that has nuclear weapons.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 24, 2017.

In Victory For Trump, UN Imposes New North Korean Sanctions

One day after the UN humiliated Donald Trump, when 128 nations voted for a UN resolution demanding the US president revoke his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, on Friday Trump scored a significant victory at the same venue – his third of the day after signing off on the tax and stopgap bills – when the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved new sanctions targeting North Korea’s economy after the latest launch of a ballistic missile last month that Kim Jong Un’s regime said shows it can now target the entire continental U. S.
The new restrictions are meant to slash North Korea’s imports of refined petroleum products, further restrict shipping and impose a 12-month deadline for expatriate North Korean workers to be sent home, according to Bloomberg. “Under the new sanctions, oil exports will be limited to their current level, which has already begun to result in shortages around the country,” the NY Times added. “Countries around the world will be ordered to expel North Korean workers, a key source of hard currency. Nations would also be urged to inspect all North Korean shipping and halt ship-to-ship transfers of fuel, which the North has used to evade sanctions.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 22, 2017.

What Will Drive The Next Oil Price Crash?

Authored by Tsvetana Paraskova via OilPrice.com,
As we roll into 2018, analysts and investors are more optimistic that the oil market will further tighten next year and support higher oil prices, but rising U. S. shale production will likely cap any significant price gains.
On the demand side, expectations are that global economic growth will support solid oil demand growth.
On the supply side, Venezuela’s dire situation, possible new sanctions on Iran, and increased tension in the Middle East mostly with the Saudi-Iran issues and the Iraq-Kurdistan standoff may take more barrels off the market than OPEC and friends plan, and send geopolitical jitters through the oil market.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 22, 2017.

New Austrian Gov’t Promises “Sanctions” Against Migrants Who Don’t Integrate

Authored by Jacob Boejesson via The Daily Caller,
Austria’s incoming conservative government is taking a hard line on immigration by promising ‘sanctions’ against those ‘refusing to integrate.’
***
Sebastian Kurz, 31, is set to become the world’s youngest leader after winning the parliamentary election in October with his People’s Party. Kurz will serve as chancellor with support from the populist Freedom Party.
A new platform unveiled Monday calls for faster deportations and a halt to illegal immigration. The main emphasis for migrants will be put on integrating to Austrian society by adopting local values.
Monthly payments to migrants will be cut to 365 euros ($432 USD) with the possibility of earning an ‘integration bonus’ of 155 euros ($184 USD).

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 21, 2017.

EU Triggers “Unprecedented Nuclear Option” Against Poland; Sanctions May Follow

Despite efforts for a constructive dialogue for 2 years, we have concluded that there is a clear risk of a serious breach of the rule of law in #Poland
We therefore proposed to @EUCouncil to adopt a decision under #Article7 (1) of the Treaty on EU
— European Commission (@EU_Commission) December 20, 2017

Yesterday we reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron had publicly agreed to back Article 7 proceedings against Poland for refusing to comply with EU immigration quotas and changes to its judicial system. The only thing that was missing was the official triggering of the so-called “nuclear option” Article 7.
On Wednesday morning, in a historic development – one which may herald the future fracturing of the EU – the European Commission launched an injunction against Poland for a “serious breach” of European common values and rule of law. The European Commission said it decided to take the next step in its infringement procedure against Poland for breaches of EU law by the Law on the Ordinary Courts Organisation, referring Poland to the EU Court of Justice. And while only a warning now, Article 7 could lead to sanctions and a suspension of EU voting rights.
The unprecedented measure was taken amid two-year tensions between the EU and Poland over the latter’s judicial reforms. The bloc is concerned over “a serious breach of the rule of law” in the country, saying the reforms resulted in ‘the absence of judicial independence.’ “It is up to Poland to identify its own model for its justice system, but it should do so in a way that respects the rule of law,” it said in a statement.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 20, 2017.

Meet The Team Building North Korea’s Nuclear Missiles

In recent years, North Korea has frustrated the US intelligence community, which has struggled to determine exactly how Kim Jong Un and his regime have managed to make so much progress, so quickly in their quest to develop a nuclear weapon capable of striking the Continental US.
The international community has authorized one round of sanctions after another, and yet they appear to have little impact on the country’s economy. If anything, these efforts have only served to strengthen the Kim’s grip on power by feeding the narrative – taught to every North Korean child – that the US is an evil, imperialist antagonist bent on subjugating the North.
While the exact means by which the North has managed to survive such immense international pressure remain a mystery, the New York Times has a theory: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has cultivated an aura of reverence and celebrity around the country’s nuclear scientists.
These celebrity scientists are known by nicknames like the ‘nuclear duo’ and the ‘missile quartet’.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 17, 2017.

Debunking The Myths About An Attack On North Korea

First, the bragging dummies
Trump and Haley are still at it. They want to force China to take action against the DPRK by threatening to take North Korea ‘into their hands’ if China refuses to comply. Haley said, ‘But to be clear, China can do more, (…) and we’re putting as much pressure on them as we can. The last time they completely cut off the oil, North Korea came to the table. And so we’ve told China they’ve got to do more. If they don’t do more, we’re going to take it into our own hands and then we’ll start to deal with secondary sanctions.’
First, let’s reset this scene in a kindergarten and replay it.
Kid A has a fight with Kid B. Kid A threatens to beat up Kid B. Kid B then tells Kid A to go screw himself. Kid A does nothing, but issues more threats. Kid B keeps laughing. And then Kid A comes up with a brilliant plan: he threatens Kid C (who is much much bigger than Kid B and much much stronger too!) by telling him “if you don’t make Kid B comply with my demands, I will take the issue in my own hands!”. The entire schoolyard erupts in hysterical laughter.
Question: how would you the gauge the intelligence of Kid A? Anyway…
This would all be really funny if this was a comedy show. But what this all is in reality is a slow but steady progression towards war. What makes this even worse is the media’s obsession with the range of North Korean missiles and whether they can reach Guam or even the USA. With all due respect for the imperial ‘only we matter’ (and nevermind the “gooks”), there are ways ‘we’, i.e. the American people can suffer terrible consequences from a war in the Korean Peninsula which have nothing to do with missile strikes on Guam or the USA.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 16, 2017.

Iran Joins EAEU – 45 Years Of US Foreign Policy Down The Drain

Authored by Tom Luongo,
Iran is joining the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). By early next year, February by this account, Iran will join the five founding members of the Union and open the door for Turkey to do so later in 2018.
Between this and the end of the war in Syria, it’s not hard to declare the Brzezinski Doctrine of U. S.-led Central Asian chaos as gasping its last breaths.
Iran finally joining the EAEU is a response to a number of factors, the most important of which is the continued belligerence by the U. S. Expanded economic sanctions on Iran and the EAEU’s leader Russia has created the need for greater coordination of economic and foreign policy objectives between them.
And it is creating the new realities in the region that will reshape the word for the next hundred years.
The Nuclear Gambit
In the dying days of the Obama administration it looked like the goal was to placate Iran to stop its pivot towards Russia and China. I believe that was the driving force behind Obama’s negotiating the controversial nuclear deal.
In effect, Obama tried to trade unfreezing Iran’s hundreds of billions in assets held in Western banks for Iran to ignore our atomization of Syria and the creation of a complete mess there.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 15, 2017.

Oil Producers Turning To Crypto To Solve Sanctions Problems

Authored by Tom Luongo,
Last week, Venezuela announced it would develop a national cryptocurrency backed by its oil reserves, the Petro. Now there is a report that Russia is considering the same thing. Iran will likely follow suit.
As of right now this is just a rumor, but it makes some sense. So, let’s treat this rumor as fact for the sake of argument and see where it leads us.
The U. S. continues to sanction and threaten all of these countries for daring to challenge the global status quo. There is no denying this. And so much of what we see in the geopolitical headlines are knock-on effects of this challenge.
The Geopolitical ‘Why’
From the Middle East to North Korea, the Dutch changing their laws to block Nordstream 2 to the Saudis breaking off relations with Qatar, everything you read about in the news is a move on the geopolitical ‘Go’ board.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 12, 2017.

HSBC Shares Surge As US DoJ Removes “Sword Of Damocles” On Money Laundering

On Monday, HSBC announced its deferred prosecution agreement with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) had expired, removing the threat of criminal prosecution for money laundering which had been hanging over the company for five years. From the Financial Times.
The US Department of Justice has given HSBC a major boost by seeking dismissal of the deferred criminal charges that have been hanging over the bank since it was fined for money laundering and sanctions breaches five years ago. The move by the DoJ lifts the threat of criminal prosecution that had been a ‘sword of Damocles’ hanging over London-headquartered HSBC, as its new management team looks to put its misconduct-plagued past behind it.
HSBC said the DoJ would file a motion with the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York seeking the dismissal of the charges deferred by the agreement it reached as part of a settlement with the bank in December 2012. The deferred prosecution agreement meant the DoJ could have reopened the criminal case against HSBC if the bank had been caught breaching the rules again during that period.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 11, 2017.

49 Countries Have Violated Sanctions On North Korea

A new report from the Institute for Science and International Security has found that 49 countries violated sanctions on North Korea to varying degrees between March 2014 and September 2017.
13 governments including Cuba, Egypt, Iran and Syria were involved in military violations, which as Statista’s Martin Armstrong notes, includes either receiving military training from North Korea or being involved in the import and export of military equipment.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 10, 2017.

North Korean “Ghost Ship” Arrivals In Japan Surge

Large numbers of North Korean fishing boats are washing up along the Japanese coast, some of which have contained decaying corpses.
Winds and water currents push dozens of boats onto Japan’s northern coasts annually. Rickety North Korean fishing boats are particularly vulnerable because they lack the sturdiness and equipment to return home. In November of this year alone, 28 of the so-called “ghost ships” were discovered by Japanese authorities with 42 people who claim to be fishermen found alive.
18 bodies have also been recovered so far.
As Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes, the grim discoveries suggest that the situation in North Korea is becoming desperate with sanctions and food shortages likely driving fishermen further out to sea to secure bigger catches.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 6, 2017.