New York: The Trump administration said that it would impose new sanctions against Russia to punish Moscow for the use of a nerve agent in the attempted killing of a former spy and his daughter in Britain.
The State Department said in a brief statement that the sanctions were in response to “the use of a ‘Novichok’ nerve agent in an attempt to assassinate UK citizen Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal in March”.
The US, on August 6, determined that the Russian government “has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law or has used lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement. The statement said that following a 15-day Congressional notification period, these sanctions will take effect around August 22.
Russia has rejected allegations levelled by the UK that Moscow was behind the deadly nerve-agent attack in the English city of Salisbury on March 4 that had left Skripal and his daughter hospitalised in critical condition.
The sanctions are mandated under the Chemical and Biological Weapons and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991, which “requires the President to make a determination with respect to whether a country has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law or has used lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals,” the State Department said.
The Washington Post quoted a State Department official as saying that the sanctions could have a significant impact on trade with Russia, including prohibition of licenses on sending some US goods there, such as electronic devices.
“But unless Russia agrees within 90 days to stop all use of chemical weapons and permit inspections to confirm their elimination, additionally mandated measures could cut off almost all trade between the two countries, prohibit landing rights for Russian airlines, and lead to a suspension of diplomatic relations,” the Washington Post report said.
US ending decades-old nuclear arms treaty with Russia, announces Trump
Washington: US President Donald Trump has announced that America is pulling out of the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with Russia, a decades-old agreement signed in 1987.
“Russia has violated the agreement. They’ve been violating it for many years,” Trump told reporters on Saturday before boarding Air Force One to leave Nevada following a campaign rally.
“And I don’t know why President (Barack) Obama didn’t negotiate or pull out. And we’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we’re not allowed to. We’re the ones that have stayed in the agreement and we’ve honoured the agreement.
“But Russia has not, unfortunately, honoured the agreement. So we’re going to terminate the agreement. We’re gonna pull out,” he said of the agreement, which was signed in December 1987 by former President Ronald Reagan and former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev.
The treaty forced both countries to eliminate ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between approximately 300 and 3,400 miles.
It offered a blanket of protection to the US’ European allies and marked a watershed agreement between two nations at the centre of the arms race during the Cold War.
The Trump administration has said repeatedly that Russia has violated the treaty and has pointed to their predecessors in the Obama administration who accused Moscow of violating the terms of the agreement.
In 2014, CNN reported that the US had accused Russia of violating the INF Treaty, citing cruise missile tests that dated to 2008.
The US at the time informed its NATO allies of Russia’s suspected breach.
Earlier this month, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the military alliance remained “concerned about Russia’s lack of respect for its international commitments, including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the INF Treaty”.
Moscow’s failure to adhere to the agreement was also addressed in the most recent Nuclear Posture Review published by the US Defence Department in February, which said Russia “continues to violate a series of arms control treaties and commitments”.
However, pulling out of the treaty could provoke a similar arms race across Europe akin to the one that was occurring when the agreement was initially signed in the 1980s, CNN said.
Journalist Jamal Khashoggi death ‘a mistake’: Saudi Arabia
Riyadh :Saudi Arabia described as “a mistake” the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in its Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, earlier this month.
In an interview with Fox News, Saudi Foreign Minister Abel Al-Jubeir said that this was a “rogue operation”.
“They made a mistake and killed Jamal Khashoggi in the consulate and they tried to cover up for it,” Al-Jubeir said.
Khashoggi, journalist and columnist for The Washington Post, had been missing since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
A joint Turkish-Saudi team completed an investigation into the case on Thursday after searching the residence of the Consul General as well as the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The kingdom acknowledged early Saturday that Khashoggi died in a brawl in its consulate, but did not give any explanation on the cause of his death.
As of now, 18 Saudi suspects have been taken into custody in connection with the incident and two senior Saudi officials fired.
Saudi King, Crown Prince send condolences to Khashoggi son
Riyadh:The King of Saudi Arabia and the Crown Prince sent their condolences to a son of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist who died at his country’s consulate in Istanbul, Saudi state media reported.
The official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said on Sunday that the Monarch, Salman bin Abdulaziz, and his son, Mohammed bin Salman, telephoned Salah Jamal Khashoggi to express their condolences, reports Efe news.
Salah thanked the king and expressed his “sincere gratitude” to Prince Mohammed for the calls, according to separate press releases published by the SPA.
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said in an interview with US television channel Fox on the same day that Prince Mohammed had no knowledge of Khashoggi’s death.
In that interview, al-Jubeir described the death of Khashoggi as “a grave mistake” and said that those responsible will be held to account.
The Saudi authorities at first denied the death of the regime-critical journalist.
The Saudi authorities said that Khashoggi died in the course of a “fight” with agents who were trying to interrogate him in the legation.
The UK, France and Germany said on Sunday that Saudi Arabia’s version of Khashoggi’s death needs to be supported by “facts” to be considered “credible”.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the suspension of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia on the grounds that they cannot be done under the “current circumstances”, in reference to the Khashoggi case.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that he will reveal details about the Turkish investigation of the alleged murder of the journalist on Tuesday.
Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, had been missing since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
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