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What we’re watching: August 27 to Sept 3, 2018
here ♦ Diplomat maneuvering on three fronts, with a heavy overlay of political theatrics. In the first case, the US has cancelled what would have been Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s fourth visit to Pyongyang citing insufficient progress on North Korea’s promise to dismantle its nuclear weapons capabilities. Among other things, recent satellite imagery indicates North Korea has halted the work it was doing to dismantle its “Sohae Satellite Launching Ground”, aka missile testing site. The cancellation recalls President Trump’s calling off his summit meeting with the North Korean leader, which was rescheduled after Kim showed renewed signs of seriousness.
♦ On the Afghanistan front, the Russians last week announced they would hold a “peace conference” in Moscow to which they reportedly invited the Afghan government and the Taliban, along with Pakistan, India, Iran, China, the five former Soviet ‘stans and, oh yes, the United States. Predictably, Kabul and Washington have both said they won’t attend. Kabul says it prefers to negotiate directly with the Taliban. In addition to the US currently having 8475 troops in Afghanistan, 38 other countries have a total of 7178 deployed in the country. None of these were invited.
♦ In the Hague this week, the International Court of Justice is to hear Iran’s lawsuit against the United States for reimposing sanctions after its withdrawal from the Iran “deal”. The suit alleges that Washington’s decision violates the Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights which the two countries signed in 1955 — when the Shah ran the place. The ICJ has no power to enforce any ruling on the matter. But you have to wonder … in 2003 the court decided that neither Iran’s attacks on US shipping in the Gulf nor US retaliatory attacks on Iran oil platforms violated the treaty. It’s certainly hardy.