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US will increase nuclear arsenal if others don’t ‘come to their senses’: Trump

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WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump has warned that the United States will increase its nuclear arsenal until other nations “come to their senses”, days after he said the US would pull out of a Cold war era arms control treaty with Russia.

Trump has confirmed that he would withdraw the US from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia that limited the number of missiles in the two nations, accusing Moscow of violating the deal.

The treaty was one of those agreements and is set to expire in the next two years. The 1987 pact helps protect the security of the US and its allies in Europe and the Far East.

 

”We will build it (nuclear arsenal) up. Until people come to their senses — Russia has not adhered to the agreement. This should have been done years ago. Until people come to their senses — we have more money than anybody else by far, we’ll build it up until they come to their senses,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

The US now wants to leave the INF. I’m terminating the agreement because they violated the agreement. I’m terminating the agreement, he had said.

”When they do, then we’ll all stop. We will not only stop, we’ll reduce, which I would love to do. But right now, they have not adhered to the agreement,” Trump said.

Reiterating that Russia had violated the treaty, he said, “They have not adhered to the spirit of that agreement or to the agreement itself, Russia – China’s not as good at the agreement, they should be. But until they get smart, there’s nobody that’s going to be even close to us.”

”It’s a threat to whoever you want, and it includes China, and it includes Russia and it includes anybody else that wants to play that game. You can’t do that. You can’t play that game on me,” Trump asserted.

Russia has denied it is in violation of the treaty.

Senator Jim Risch supported the move toward withdrawal from the INF treaty.

”At a time when the United States and the Soviet Union were the only global superpowers, the INF Treaty was a landmark agreement that helped provide stability and security in Europe,” he said.

The INF treaty was signed between the then US president Ronald Reagan and his USSR counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 on the elimination of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles.

For the past several years, the Russian government has systematically violated the INF Treaty and deployed systems around Europe that undermine the stability that the INF Treaty helped create, Risch alleged.

Russian actions represent a material breach of the Treaty, and it is abundantly clear, the United States is the only country limited by the INF Treaty, he said.

”In addition, new strategic threats from a rising China requires the United States to consider the alliances we have around the world and the commitments to uphold international security. The United States cannot help provide effective deterrence in Asia as long as we are limited by the INF treaty. The time has come to set the Treaty aside and develop alternative avenues toward the security the treaty once provided,” Risch said.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, however, warned that withdrawing the US from the INF treaty would be a strategic mistake that would weaken national security and the security of key allies.

”Since the Cold War, this arms-control agreement has banned an entire class of dangerous nuclear weapons, reducing the threat of nuclear war,” she said.

”Alleging that Russia has violated this treaty for several years, Feinstein said the US must take strong diplomatic actions to address that violation. However, withdrawing from the treaty will only accelerate a nuclear arms race, leaving us far less safe,” she said.

Noting that the US is already investing more than USD 1 trillion to modernize its nuclear arsenal, including developing a new air-launched cruise missile and a dangerous ‘low-yield’ ballistic missile, she said US does not need to spend more money on more nuclear weapons.

”President Trump should be leading non-proliferation efforts around the world, not undermining existing treaties. Rather than abandon another nuclear agreement, he should be working with our NATO allies to counter Russia’s deployment of banned weapons and search for ways to reduce both countries’ nuclear arsenals,” Feinstein said.

Senator Bob Menendez echoed Feinstein.

”There is no doubt that Russia is responsible for the degradation of the INF treaty. However, withdrawing from this treaty without a comprehensive strategy for addressing its underlying strategic implications and without consulting Congress or our allies threatens long-term United States’ national security interests,” Menendez said.


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International

Imran Khan reshuffles cabinet amidst mounting criticism over govt performance

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Islamabad: Prime Minister Imran Khan reshuffled his Cabinet amidst mounting criticism at the lackluster performance of the government.

The key ministry of interior was assigned to former ISI officer, Brig (retd) Ijaz Shah who was recently appointed as minister for parliamentary affairs.

He was a confidant of former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf. Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto reportedly named him among three people who were a threat to her life.

 

Shah was elected as a member of Parliament in last year elections.

Azam Swati, who stepped down last year as minister of science and technology for allegedly using his influence over police to register a case against a poor family, made a comeback and appointed as minister for parliamentary affairs.

Among other changes, information minister Fawad Chaudhry was made minister for science and technology and petroleum minister Ghulam Sarwar made minister for aviation.

Mohammad Mian Soomro would cease to hold portfolio of aviation and would be just the minister for privatisation. Minister of State for Interior and Shehryar Afridi was shifted and appointed as Minister of State for States and Frontier Regions.

Dr Zafarullah Mirza was appointed as Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on National Health Services in place of Amir Kiani who was sacked.

Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan was appointed as Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Nadeem Babar appointed as SAPM on Petroleum Division.

The Prime Minister has not appointed a new finance minister and instead planning to appoint an advisor on finance. Several names were making rounds for the key post. Those being discussed included Dr Abdul Hafiz Sheikh, Dr Hafiz Pasha and Shaukat Tareen. It is the first major reshuffle in the Cabinet since Khan became the prime minister eight months ago.

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International

213 died in Libya clashes, says WHO

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Washington: A total of 213 people have been killed and 1,009 others injured in the fighting between the UN-backed Libyan government and the east-based Army in and around the capital Tripoli so far, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

“Tripoli toll is now 213 dead and 1,009 wounded. WHO medical teams continue assisting surgical staff at local hospitals,” WHO tweeted.

“Two more ambulances have been damaged. WHO calls on all parties in Libya to protect civilians, health workers and health facilities,” the agency said.

 

The Army, led by Khalifa Haftar, has been leading a military campaign since early April to take over Tripoli where the UN-backed government is based.

Libya has been struggling to make a democratic transition amid insecurity and chaos ever since the fall of former leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011.

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Peace talks postponed after Taliban object to size of Afghan delegation

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KABUL: A meeting between the Taliban and Afghan politicians and civil society aimed at ending more than 17 years of war in Afghanistan has been postponed, officials and diplomats said on Thursday, citing Taliban objections to the size of the Afghan delegation.
The talks were set to begin in Doha, but a senior government official in Kabul said “the gathering has been called off for now and details were being reworked.”
Afghan delegates scheduled to fly to the Qatari capital on Thursday were told the trip was postponed and new dates were being discussed, a western diplomat in Kabul said.
“The government will have to change the composition of the delegation to make this meeting happen,” the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said leaders of the hardline Islamist group were uncomfortable with the size of the Afghan delegation and its composition.
“Presence of some participants was completely against the list of what was agreed upon,” Mujahid said, adding that the delegation included Afghans working for the government.
The Taliban have repeatedly refused to meet President Ashraf Ghani’s government, which they call a puppet regime, but have held several rounds of peace talks with US officials.
Ghani said on Wednesday the 250-member Afghan delegation included some government officials attending in a personal capacity. But the group did not include some of the most powerful figures in Afghan politics, who are reluctant to join forces with Ghani ahead of presidential elections due in September.
A senior government official said Afghan-to-Afghan peace talks are in jeopardy.
The talks between Afghan and Taliban officials at the same table for the first time have been considered a significant first step towards finding a negotiated end to Afghanistan’s protracted war.
The senior official said negotiations went awry after President Ashraf Ghani opposed a list of participants announced by the Qatar government, which is sponsoring the talks. The list of 243 people was announced by Qatar on Thursday.
The list differs in part from Ghani’s list of 250 people, according to the senior government official.

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