Syria chemical attack looks like nerve gas – and was no accident

By Debora MacKenzie

Nerve gas is back. Images of the victims and reports from doctors on the scene of yesterday’s Syrian government air strike on the rebel-held northern town of Khan Sheikhoun suggest the weapon used was the nerve agent, sarin. At least 70 men, women and children died and hundreds were injured.

The timing of the attack seems startling, just a day ahead of today’s meeting in Brussels at which 70 countries are meant to discuss funding the reconstruction of Syria, and a week after senior US officials disavowed previous US calls to remove Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. It may have been aimed at sowing discord among Western allies, or demonstrating the regime’s defiance.

But it could also just be a continuation of war as usual for the Assad regime, which has been increasingly using chemical attacks to terrorise civilians for the past several months, even though in 2013 it signed the international treaty banning chemical weapons and agreed to let its chemical stockpile be destroyed.

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51 COMMENTS

  1. @OP – It may have been aimed at . . . . . . . . .
    . . . . . . .
    But it could also just be . . .. . . . ..

    I am always sceptical when politicians and media rush to apportion blame for atrocities, before there has been time for proper investigations. – Especially when there is a parallel propaganda war being waged and there is a range of possible explanations as to whose weapons caused the deaths!

    Did the bombs contain nerve gas – OR did explosive bombs hit someone’s hidden stash of nerve gas?

  2. Im with you Alan. The way the BBC has been showing distressing images so frequently and the treatment of ‘Red Ken’ is showing so much bias.

  3. Olgun #2
    Apr 5, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    I’m with you Alan. The way the BBC has been showing distressing images so frequently and the treatment of ‘Red Ken’ is showing so much bias.

    The BBC is “balanced” and factual on some issues, but it’s material needs scrutiny for “politically correct” false balance – especially when UK government policies and information from political sources are involved.

    the treatment of ‘Red Ken’ is showing so much bias.

    Nobody has been prepared to upset the Zionists or Corbynites, by coming out and saying Corbyn and the Labour NEC are making fools of themselves and the party, by “investigating” Ken Livingstone for not recanting the historically accurate quotes he has made!

    They are history illiterates and comparable to the science illiterates who want political investigations into evolution and climate science!

    If they had the skills to investigate historical documents, they would not be “investigating” Livingstone’s non-compliance with fumble-brained political correctness – but then “competence” was the basis of the vote of no confidence in Corbyn by the majority of Labour MPs, prior to his re-election by the mass of “know-nothing” recently joined “cheap subscription” recruits awarded voting rights!!

  4. It seems that knee-jerk military action has been impetuously launched before there has been time for proper investigations as to whose chemical weapons were involved! – Rather like Bush, his international cheerleaders, and HIS actions against imaginary “Weapons of mass destruction”!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/world-us-canada-39521332

    Summary

    President Trump has ordered US air strikes on a target in Syria
    59 Tomahawk missiles targeted Shayrat airfield near Homs
    The action follows a suspected chemical weapons attack on civilians in a rebel-held town
    President Trump said the attack was “in vital national security interest” of US

    What on Earth has this got to do with the “national security interest” of US”?
    Surely the incompetent US miltary interventions in Iraq, and the backing of rebels fighting the Assad regime, are prime causes of the civil wars, vast numbers of deaths, injuries and refugee problems!

    The Syrian army says the strikes killed six and caused “extensive material damage”
    Russia, a close Syrian ally, condemned the US “aggression” and suspended a joint air safety agreement

    The Russian Defence Ministry says the US airstrike was ineffective, the Russian news agency Interfax reports.

    From BBC Monitoring:
    “According to Russian monitoring tools, only 23 missiles reached the Syrian airbase. It’s not clear where the remaining 36 cruise missiles fell,” Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov is quoted as saying.

    More from Russian journalist Yevgeny Poddubny, who has access to the bombed airbase for the news channel Rossiya 24.

    He says nine Syrian military aircraft were destroyed. The covered hangars containing the aircraft had been struck. He said the runway was not damaged but is strewn with shrapnel.

    Russia will not hit back at the US strike by escalating military action in Syria, Russia’s government newspaper website Rossiiskaya Gazeta has reported.

    The deputy speaker of the State Duma, Pyotr Tolstoy, told the assembly at a full session: “How can we respond? Of course not by escalating military actions, not with Iskanders [type of short-range ballistic missile], though of course that’s an important part of our forces.

    “Yet that’s not where our strength lies – our strength is in our own understanding of the logic of events.”

    The website said Mr Tolstoy called for “calm and logical action in defence of international law, justice”.

    Evgeny Poddubnyy , a reporter for the news channel Russia 24 has exclusive access inside the base and is posting images and video to Instagram .

    He says not all the planes have been destroyed, and that initial reports suggest nine burnt up in their hangars.

    Homs governor Talal Barazi has given a stinging rebuke to the US missile attacks on Syria and said it won’t stop the government’s actions.

    He told the Today programme that he wasn’t “surprised” at “America and Israel supporting this terrorism”

    “It is obvious that the US cruise missile strike had been pre-prepared. It is clear to any specialist that Washington made the decision to strike before the events in Idlib, which were only used as a pretext for a show of force.” Russian Foreign Ministry

    Ex-UK ambassador to Syria: ‘No proof’ of chemical attack – Peter Ford says the use of chemical weapons by Assad would be ‘self defeating’

    Russian tone changes on Trump
    Posted at 8:46

    BBC Moscow Correspondent Steve Rosenberg says:
    The Kremlin has described the airstrikes as “active aggression”, violating international norms on an “invented premise” and said it will do considerable damage to US-Russian relations, which spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted were already in a very poor state.

    Just a couple of months ago there was a sense of elation here in political circles that Donald Trump had been elected president. Finally here was a president who had been saying nice things about President Putin and was talking about boosting relations with Russia. He was depicted in state-run media almost as a fairy tale figure, a knight in shining armour who was going to ride to the rescue of US-Russia relations.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman has described the US air strikes on the Shayrat airbase as an “aggression against a sovereign nation”. Mr Putin sees them as an “attempt to distract the world from civilian casualties from US military action in Iraq,” and they “do significant damage” to US-Russia ties”,** Dmitry Peskov said**.

  5. … even though in 2013 it signed the international treaty banning
    chemical weapons and agreed to let its chemical stockpile be
    destroyed.

    Hahahaha… So naive, so stupidly naive from someone to believe that politicians who are suporting war or (and) started war, are going to maintain their words, or in any way take steps to stop war. They are the one who want wars, and they are treacherous liars and murderers. To have any civilized or human conversation with them is a waste of time. And as always, it is unbelievable that people who represent themselves as civilized, like some international councils, go and have conversations with them, or they hope to have any meaningful conversation with them. Politicians all over the world are the same sort of people – liers and worshipers of power and force, who are so easily prone to destroy others (living and material things) in the name of their hunger for power and money. There is so called international councils or comunities which aim to stop the war? Really? If they really wanted to stop the war there, or anywhere in this world, they would have done it. It is easy. But they do not want that. Any politician who is negotiating with war lords is their accomplice, because the first thing (if they are human) they should of done seeing him, is to arrest that war lord. Talking to them!! hahahaha What a joke. Talking…while inocent people are being tortured and killed in the most imaginative ways possible by the army of that war lord. Talking, while children and civilians are wondering where are you World, why are you not helping us…we are also human beings.

  6. Assad may not have been behind the chemical attack. We are, again, being lied to. And MSNBC is complicit in these lies. Nothing but horrifying.

    http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=18834

    Crucially, we also don’t know who was responsible. Western governments, led by the United States, and much of the western press have asserted that the Syrian regime is responsible, but there is still no clear evidence.

    Russia claims that the Syrian military did drop bombs in the affected area but that the chemical effect was not in the bombs dropped but rather from the explosion of an alleged chemical warehouse under the control of unnamed rebel forces. The same report by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that found Syrian government responsibility for chlorine attacks also found that ISIS had used another chemical weapon, mustard gas, and investigated at least three other chemical weapons attacks whose perpetrators could not be identified. So that could be possible as well.

  7. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-39529264

    Two US Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Shayrat airfield in western Homs province at about 04:40 Syrian time (01:40 GMT).

    They targeted aircraft, aircraft shelters, storage areas, ammunition supply bunkers and air defence systems at the Syrian government-controlled facility, according to the Pentagon.

    Russia has promised to strengthen Syria’s anti-aircraft defences after the US bombarded a Syrian air base with missiles, reportedly destroying it.

    Russia, which backs President Bashar al-Assad, condemned the US strike.

    It also suspended a deal with the US designed to avoid collisions between their air forces over Syria.

    In the first direct US military action against Syria’s government, at least six people are reported to have been killed.

    Idlib’s opposition-run health authority says 89 people, including 33 children and 18 women, died in the suspected nerve gas attack in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. Syria denies using nerve gas.

    The UN Security Council is meeting to discuss the US missile strikes, with Secretary General Antonio Guterres urging restraint.

    Cruise missiles fly low and have a relatively small radar cross-section so they are difficult to destroy with air defences.
    Russia may seek to improve Syria’s surface-to-air missile system in the wake of this US attack but it would be very much a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

    Russia has some of its most modern surface-to-air missile systems at its air base in Syria and radars with a huge reach but, for whatever reason, they too have not deterred Israeli strikes.

    Their presence makes air strikes by manned US aircraft unlikely and for Washington the Tomahawk cruise missile will remain the weapon of choice

    Speaking from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, US President Donald Trump said in a statement that he had acted to prevent the use of chemical weapons.

    A prudent president might have waited to establish who exactly was using or storing chemical weapons, BEFORE launching an attack which tears up the US co-operation agreement with Russia and Syria on jointly fighting ISIS!

    It looks like a reversion to the old politics of half-baked attempts at regime change – which opened up the opportunities for ISIS in the first place! Trigger happy US Naval vessels in the Med. at the ready? – Probably not a coincidence!

    Nothing has been learned from military adventures in Iraq, or the Libyan “regime-change” fiasco, which caused on-going civil wars regional instability, and massive refugee crises!

    The US has led a coalition carrying out air strikes against jihadist groups in Syria since 2014 but this is the first time it has targeted government forces.

    President Trump previously spoke out against US military involvement in Syria, instead calling for a greater focus on domestic interests.

    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signalled a sudden shift in policy on Thursday, saying that Bashar al-Assad should have no role in a future Syria.

    Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Vladimir Safronkov, told Friday’s session that the US military’s “illegitimate” missile strikes had encouraged “terrorists” in Syria.

    Russia sent a frigate armed with cruise missiles, the Admiral Grigorovich, from the Black Sea to the Eastern Mediterranean on Friday, in what may be a routine move.

    Russia said a Syrian air strike had hit a rebel depot containing chemical weapons.

  8. The “Assad using chemical weapons on his own people” mantra is a vile lie designed for nothing other than softening up Western public opinion for more war and aggression in the Middle East. How many times do Western (and in particular US audiences) have to be led down the path of war on false pretenses before they’ll catch a clue that these pretexts are crude propaganda?

    It makes ZERO sense for the Syrian state to have carried out such an attack. The Syrian Arab Army was on the offensive; why would they launch an attack on civilians when they’re WINNING and that could only play into the hands of the “rebels” (US-and Gulf state backed terrorists and jihadis)? Assad isn’t stupid enough to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. But of course, racist Western audiences will eagerly lap up anything that aligns with their view of Arabs, namely that “they’ve been fighting each other for thousands of years”, “We have to save them because their leaders won’t”, and other neo-colonialist attitudes.

    But while it makes no sense for the Syrian state to attack its own people with chemical weapons – let alone when it has gained the initiative against the terrorists – it makes PERFECT sense for the terrorists to play up such stories. They know that the US will then “have a moral responsibility” to act against “Assad”.

    Sorry, but this “latest chemical attack by Assad” is 100% garbage propaganda, designed for dupes to act as lapdogs for war.

    I’m particularly disgusted by the liberals in the US who have eagerly prostituted themselves in the service of imperialist war. Apparently to them, Trump “isn’t my president” despite having been legally elected, but he “became” president when he attacked a small sovereign country. Think about the message there: to prove your “presidential credentials”, it isn’t enough to run in an election and win it; you have to bomb a country that poses no threat to you, on flimsy pretexts that collapse upon any scrutiny. THEN you will be regarded as “serious”. I saw one particularly repulsive example of this when a news anchor gushed about the “beautiful weapons” that the US launched to attack the airfield from which “Assad” allegedly “gassed his own people”. It’s startling how the premise for the attacks was completely and utterly sidelined by the liberal wing of the mainstream media in their pathetic “debate”, which revolved around the chauvinist talking point of whether the air strikes were “constitutional”, as though that were the most important consideration. This chauvinist attitude is completely typical of liberal imperialists, who are too busy whining about “Russian hacking” to even consider whether they are behaving as playthings of the imperial forces (the military-industrial complex, finance capital, energy interests etc). If you so much as hint that you doubt the premise that the government feeds you (which is taken as an article of religious faith by these “reasonable” liberals), they look at you like they can’t even comprehend your question. Imperialist fundamentalism, ladies and gentlemen, laid bare in its grotesque, racist, colonialist filth.

  9. Modesti said:

    “Talking to them!! hahahaha What a joke. Talking…while inocent people are being tortured and killed in the most imaginative ways possible by the army of that war lord. Talking, while children and civilians are wondering where are you World, why are you not helping us…we are also human beings.”

    Garbage propaganda. The “world” is helping: by funneling supplies of weapons to terrorists and jihadis seeking to destroy the fabric of Syrian society and to replace is secular system of government with atavistic, sectarian dogma. It’s hilarious how you allude to Assad the “politician” who “can’t be trusted” but blindly trust Trump’s rhetoric about “Assad gassing his own people”, as though Trump and the US don’t have ulterior motives for intervening in Syria.

  10. Sorry Modesti,

    I think I may have completely misread the intention of your post. I’ve read some of your comments on another Syria-related article and it seems that you question the standard narrative fed to people in the West. My apologies if my response to you above was missing the point you were trying to make.

  11. The article below is a jigsaw puzzle with many of its pieces still in the box and others missing. The suspended underwater pipeline from SA and Egypt, through Cyprus, Turkey to Europe is one such piece and why the ‘unification’ talks in Cyprus has failed once again. At the final moments of the talks and an agreement, the Greek Cypriots decided to cynically allow the teaching of ENOSIS (union with Greece) in their schools. This is highly offensive to Turkish Cypriots and planned to be so. The west need control of ALL the gas pipes and not Just Qatar and, obviously, Russia won’t allow that.

    http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/37685-the-war-against-the-assad-regime-is-not-a-pipeline-war

  12. The underwater pipe line from SA and Egypt should have included the Field from Israel that the Jews do not want to share with Palestine.

  13. This is so alarming Olgun. So alarming. Perhaps I will offend you but you know, I wish there are no Turkish Cypriot or Greek Cypriots,… I would like there to be just Cypriots. I would like them to forget their ancestry, and be united into one “nation”… no looking back. Our ancestors are not our identity,… we change during time and I know that nationality is not genetic inheritance. Colour of our eyes, or hair, or some diseases, or some somatic charactheristic are inherited by our genes. I have only a quarter of my grandparents genes. And less from my distant cousins. I am not them. I am even not my parents so to speak haha. 😉 And I just want to be me, different from them all – my identity is just mine, and I do not want to be associated in that sense with my ancestors. For example my grand grandmother was Czech, my grandfather Austrian but I am not Czech or Austrian (and not Yugoslav any more which is pitty haha 😉 ). And I am not about to start to gloryfy any of it, because that is what does not define me. I would like for people to start living in present, …to start living now, and behave humanly towards each other. 🙂 What is nation? To be kill over nation? So stupid. 🙁 Sad now.

  14. Modesti

    I will keep my reply on this thread so as not to incur the wrath of the mods! 🙂

    ENOSIS

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enosis

    we gave the ‘Cypriot’ thing a try but it lasted three years. We have been GC and TC ever since. I too wish it had worked but Union with Greece got in the way. What I would like to see now is a two state solution, adult behaviour and future unification when they both prove themselves to be worthy. But my point was that bigger players won’t let it happen and the recognition of the GCs as the government and the suspension of reality and existence of TCs is the game played by the international community. The orthodox churches of Russia and Greeks have their own agenda whilst each government has theirs. It is a powder keg and I believe have pulled the plug once again because they don’t want the gas pipe in US hands if at all. They use nationalism in south Cyprus to achieve this. The world focuses on two insignificant leaders of two insignificant communities whilst the big stuff goes on unreported in the main. It was to show how Turkey was sidelined and why she turned a blind eye to refugees swamping Europe. Why she is keen to get rid of Asad so at least one pipeline makes it to Turkey and then Europe. We can wish all we like but there is a reality out there no matter how confused. Greed yes but need too!!!

  15. Modesti (#17), Olgun

    I liked your comment, Modesti. I don’t know too much about the history of the Greeks and the Turks; but I find it irritating and disturbing, and I think it is highly significant too, that almost every single Turkish person I’ve ever met has a positive contempt for Greece, and every single Greek person (without exception) that I’ve ever met has expressed tremendous contempt for Turkey!

    (There are not always two sides to every argument, but no one can be truly objective when their identity is bound up with their love of country or their religion. It is like religion. 2.2 billion Christians think, or claim, that their religion is the real one. About a billion Hindus think that their religion is the right one. About 1.6 billion Muslims think that the other two religions are wrong, etc. And the ancient Greeks worshipped Neptune, and their religion was above and beyond doubt for many people back then, presumably.)

    The Turks massacred the Armenians – that is reality – and have never apologized, if that is the right word. The various people from Turkey that I have brought this up have all gotten defensive, and they start blaming the Armenians.

    Nationalism and love of, and identification with, country comes at a price, afflicts all peoples, and tends to obliterate all objectivity.

    The Jews (and I am – technically, legally – a Jew) are brutalizing the palestinians. I am also an American, as American as anyone can be; and I am able to acknowledge America’s atrocities, able to be objective. I have critical distance. I got that from my highly enlightened, leftist parents, to a large extent.

  16. Olgun, Dan,

    But my point was that bigger players won’t let it happen and the
    recognition of the GCs as the government and the suspension of reality
    and existence of TCs is the game played by the international
    community. The orthodox churches of Russia and Greeks have their own
    agenda whilst each government has theirs. It is a powder keg and I
    believe have pulled the plug once again because they don’t want the
    gas pipe in US hands if at all. They use nationalism in south Cyprus
    to achieve this.

    Yes, completely agree with you Olgun! Always this old hoax of nation… always selling of this story of national identities, while behind is going on something not so “patriotic” haha, but more primitive and lucrative, like who is going to control energy distribution. Normal person would think that it could be resolve by some civil understanding and as you say some adult consciousness (agree too). I hope war is not going to start there also. 🙁

    It was to show how Turkey was sidelined and why she turned a blind eye
    to refugees swamping Europe. Why she is keen to get rid of Asad so at least one pipeline makes it to Turkey and then Europe.

    Yes. Those politicians are the biggest monsters on this planet! At least I think so. 🙂 And what do they get for their mistakes? Being fired from work place? What about responsibility for human lives and making our habitats more and more difficult to live in? No punishment. 🙁 Just sacked… and even have possibility to run for elections another time. 🙁

    …but no one can be truly objective when their identity is bound up
    with their love of country or their religion. It is like religion. 2.2
    billion Christians think, or claim, that their religion is the real
    one. About a billion Hindus think that their religion is the right
    one…

    So true. This indentification of nation with religion is so dangerous combination, probably inherited when religion was the politician throughout centuries, … I don’t know (thinking). But their connection is reality, right?, and it is so sad when people could not see what is this doing to them (and others). This stupid. Religion is indeed the most dangerous thing in the world.

    …tends to obliterate all objectivity.

    Yes. 🙁

    Wait,… Dan, can you explain something to me. 🙂 I am puzzled every time someone says they are atheists but than say tehy are are Jews. This guy I know superficially said so many times that he is a Jew, but he is an atheist (he said so), and he is not born in Izrael, but here in Croatia. So how he can be Jew? Or you? hahaha… I mean,… I don’t know, perhaps you are born in Izrael 😉 . But I do not mean anything wrong, it is not so important to me (you are human) but is has always been puzzeling for me. How can enyone say they are Jews (in this case) when they are not born there, and they are not religious? Glad that you have this objectiveness and a normality.

  17. Hello, Modesti,

    I wasn’t saying that Nationalism is the identification of nation with religion (although it can be that); I just meant that nationalism is similar to religion in that people tend to prefer one’s own country because that is their country.

    As for being an atheist Jew, I don’t know if I want to get into that. I was born in NYC, and my late father and his father were born in the US of A. My mom was born in Frankfurt. Being Jewish has absolutely nothing to do with being born in Israel. I have never even been to Israel. I had an unpleasant argument with someone about being an atheist Jew recently. I call myself a secular, unreligious Jew because I choose to. I can define Jew any way I wish to. There’s an identification there with the history; its part of my background, I have a certain identification with the people, I sometimes take part in family traditions, etc. Maybe that makes no sense and maybe it does. I see your point, and understand your confusion. I too get confused. But being Jewish is one of those things that has many definitions. Calling oneself Jewish is different than calling oneself a Christian; it has morphed into something other than a religion for a lot of people. Don’t want to get into it. (Not offended.)

  18. Alan, Modesti (or anyone who wishes to comment),

    This situation with North Korea is really heating up! Any thoughts/predictions about that?

  19. Dan #21, (and Allan #22) : I can define Jew any way I wish to. … I have a certain identification with the people, I sometimes take part in family traditions, etc. Maybe that makes no sense and maybe it does.

    Yes, I think I can comprehend that. It is like some identification with tradidion with whom you have been brought up if I understood you well. 🙂 Ok.

    Thanks Allan. 🙂

  20. This situation with North Korea is really heating up! Any
    thoughts/predictions about that?

    Just went to see some news about that. And find The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/20/un-security-council-north-korea-nuclear-tests-sanctions
    So there is this at the first lines of article:

    The UN security council has strongly condemned North Korea’s latest
    missile test and threatened to impose new sanctions… saying Pyongyang’s “illegal missile activities”…

    I didn’t know it is illegal. But US also had tested their missile products as I am sure other countries did after constructing them. It is like car testing (or any product)… to see if it is working. They did not tested them on any country but in their yard. US did it but why Koreans can’t?

    “If we have to start looking at sanctions or other actions, we will,”
    the US ambassador, Nikki Haley, told reporters.

    I don’t know what sanctions she is talking about, but how will those sanctions affect N.Korea is a question. Perhaps they can live without those sanctions whatever they are. I supose US do not have trade with N.Korea. Other countries perhaps do, but I do not know if sanctioning them will cause some economy damage. But I can see how they can have a moral issue … they are forbiden to test their missiles but others (who are complaining) can. So, this is again about some illusive laws and permissions, and if someone who see is as a threat to their illusive construct will answer with guns?

    The US-drafted statement was agreed upon after Russia insisted that
    language stressing the need to achieve a peaceful solution “through
    dialogue” was included in the final text.Moscow had blocked an earlier
    version of the statement – which comes after North Korea carried out a
    failed test on Sunday – even though China, Pyongyang’s ally, had
    expressed its support for it. However, the Russian charge d’affaires,
    Petr Iliichev, denied blocking the statement, saying the US had broken
    off talks on a consensus position in an “abrupt manner”.

    A priori I do not believe what are politicians saying haha. Look at this paragraph. Where is the truth here? I don’t know. What. They are trying to find peacefull solution but somehow their egos prevents them for doing so? If they want peace they would find it. And I do not understand about solutions. Solution for what? For not letting N.Korea test their weapon on their soil?

    I am not sure that war will start again, but with Trump anything can happen. 🙁

  21. Anything can happen is right, with Trump the glorified landlord – he’s a landlord; what do you expect? – and those unscrupulous, twisted, maniacal, incompetent, indecent bunch of psychopaths in power now.

    Someone can correct me; but I don’t think it is necessarily illegal for North Korea to test the missiles.

    Treaties Banning Nuclear Testing

    Two treaties restrict nuclear testing as such: the 1963 Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water (Partial Test Ban Treaty, or PTBT),[2] and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT),[3] which has not yet entered into force. However, North Korea is not a party to either of these treaties and thus does not have any direct legal obligations there under.

    Even if the PTBT were considered customary international law,[4] that treaty permits the testing of nuclear weapons underground, so long as radioactive debris is not released outside the territorial limits of the testing state.[5]

    The article goes on. Nikki Haley, by the way, is a profoundly odious person. She has the worst record, is extremely reactionary. Can’t stand her.

    “Haley has come under growing criticism for South Carolina’s ‘low road’ economic development approach, a strategy that lavishes millions of dollars in giveaways to companies for low-paying jobs that keep many working families mired in poverty.” —The Institute for Southern Studies

  22. Yes, a landlord…good expression! Perhaps he is seeing all countries as potential real estates. 😉
    Oh you have find some info on testing. Good.

    Even if the PTBT were considered customary international law,[4] that
    treaty permits the testing of nuclear weapons underground, so long as
    radioactive debris is not released outside the territorial limits of
    the testing state.

    I am sure that N.Korea have been careful of that debris after all. They are not the one who wants to start the war I think. But they are prepare to defend themselves if necessary as they said. You are right of this high tension situation. Only one tiny injury to an ego of these psychopats can start it. I just remebered thing called shame society, and how shame is very important for those countries at East (China, Japan, Koreas…). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shame_society
    What if Trump is aiming to that. You know… put them (N.Korea) to shame so they have no choice but to respond. 🙁 A bit streched theory but in their twisted minds one can expect anything.

    The article goes on. Nikki Haley, by the way, is a profoundly odious
    person. She has the worst record, is extremely reactionary.

    I didn’t know that… though, she looks so evil, haha… perhaps she was selected for this job for this fine characteristics. 😉

    …a strategy that lavishes millions of dollars in giveaways to companies
    for low-paying jobs that keep many working families mired in poverty.

    What a strategy! Just earlier I was thinking on irresponsibility and how politicians are not punished for atrocities that they do. I mean, they are in position of power where in one second they can decide on destiny of masses of people; whole society, and when they got it wrong it is like it was some minor accident… no very severe consequences (perhaps I am wrong, but looking generally…). For example this woman has brought poverty for the masses of people and she gets promoted?! She should be in jail right? I know you all know how politics work, so I am not really surprised, but I don’t know if us people can resolve this with some laws that should be made. 🙁 But I know we need more severe laws on responsibility of politicians. No second chances.

  23. Re North Korea.

    Trump is the world’s worst nightmare, the US does unquestionably have a history of meddling militarily where it really should have kept its nose out, double standards do abound, and FWIW, I also tend to the view that we could perhaps just try leaving North Korea alone, on the basis that, while the cobra beneath your sofa is undoubtedly dangerous, repeatedly poking it with a stick isn’t necessarily the best way of protecting yourself from it.

    But US=bad and Trump=mad doesn’t of itself make North Korea the innocent victim here. In the real world, geopolitical issues rarely boil down to a straight contest between the Goodies and the Baddies (regardless of which way round you choose to cast those roles).

    This is probably the most helpful overview of the complexities of the immediate North Korean problem I’ve seen:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/17/world/asia/north-korea-nuclear-weapons-missiles-sanctions.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=0

  24. On the Syrian chemicals weapons issue, there seems to be evidence that the poison was Sarin, but little to indicate whose stock of Sarin it was!

    There are various people (and their echo-parrots), saying they are confident that the Syrian government was responsible, but as these same people are confident that global warming is a hoax, I put little credence in such claims!

  25. Good piece, Marco.

    I just don’t understand why anyone has to do anything? Why don’t we get on with our lives and ignore NK? Maybe wait for some local disaster and offer help? A trade deal? It’ll never get better if we keep picking at it…

  26. Dan

    I don’t know much about the Armenian thing though my best friends from school were an Armenian from Istanbul and a Greek Cypriot. I didn’t really get on with Turkish Cypriots of the day. We had some great times in the day of the disco. I still am great friends with my GC friend but the other made his fortune in Romania. He got in touch the other week through FB. But, in the interest of clarity, and I still can’t find a definitive answer, when did the Ottoman become a Turk? I know the date when Turkey was formed but history books still refer to the former as Turks. As far as I know the ‘turk’ in Ottoman times was the lowest of the low. I have mentioned it before and it is a work of ‘historical fiction’ but in the book Birds Without Wings, the Armenians revolted and the Kurdish fighters (also Ottomans) were the ones who ‘escorted’ them out of Ottoman territory. They slaughtered and robbed them almost as soon as they were out of the villages. Still under Ottoman rule I know but the Kurds and Armenians were fierce enemies. I am not getting defensive because, as I said, I don’t know much about it. I have my hands full with Cyprus and its complicated history. Pound for pound, more Turkish Cypriots were slaughtered by Greeks than Armenians by ‘Turks’.

  27. Phil

    I suspect the worry is that, at this rate, NK will have an ICBM capable of reaching the USA before that much longer, and given the unpredictability of the NK regime, that’s probably not something anyone in the West feels too comfortable with. Also, NK does keep making pretty bloodcurdling threats against South Korea and Japan, both of which are US allies and, more pressingly, host US airbases and are therefore important to the US as a way of keeping China “in its place”. Waiting and seeing could be a very high risk strategy. Hence the temptation to try to take out the NK nuclear capability before they’ve had chance to use it.

    But yes, given that the NK regime seems to depend on the narrative of Western aggression for its survival, completely switching off, or even reversing, the aggression might well prove to be a more effective approach. NK doesn’t seem to have expansionist ambitions, at least (though that’s probably the best that can be said for it).

  28. Marco #32
    Apr 21, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    I suspect the worry is that, at this rate, NK will have an ICBM capable of reaching the USA before that much longer, and given the unpredictability of the NK regime, that’s probably not something anyone in the West feels too comfortable with.

    Given that the US has warning systems and anti-missile systems which are engineered to deal with much more sophisticated missiles and missile systems, and that North Korea seems to be having difficulty in making missiles which will fly at all, I have to wonder how serious that threat really is?

    I think the real issue is the hangover from colonialism, WW2, the cold war partitioning of Korea, and the Korean war, with decades of simmering hostility between the communist North and the US supported right-wing South Korea.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Division_of_Korea

    An understanding of the history gives a good background on the hostility!

  29. Olgun

    Well I am neither Turkish nor Armenian, but was taught that the Armenians were savagely and mercilessly slaughtered in what became known as the Armenian genocide. That is, I believe, the consensus amongst Americans; and I can never get a consistent historical analysis of this; Armenians and the people who are of Turkish descent always have two different explanations. So it supports my imprecise analogy (religion): either they are both right (which is impossible) or they are both wrong (which is not likely).

    I used to work with two women: one was Armenian and the other (“Esma”) was Turkish. They never spoke a word to each other. (I was fond of both of them.)

    The Greeks claim to have been slaughtered by the Turks who they despise. This appears to me to be a virtually universally held view. Maybe they are all wrong. Who knows? (No sarcasm. ) And to be honest I also haven’t met too many Greek intellectuals, professors, scholars. They’re out there, for sure; I just haven’t met too many of them.

    It could also be true that the Greeks are right, and they were the victims. My ex-brother-in-law gave us a “history lesson” once, is from Athens, is well educated, a bright and decent guy, a pilot.

    My point is that people tend to defend the country they are from. But in some cases they are right; in other cases they are wrong. In some cases I suppose the truth lies in-between. But objectivity is in short supply.

  30. Marco, others

    I have heard from what I consider to be a reliable source that we cannot take out North Korea’s nuclear capability without using a nuclear bomb. Malcolm Nance went into this on a news show. It’s all deeply embedded underground, he said. And that guy knows his shit.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_Nance

    A military conflict with North Korea would be an unmitigated disaster and must be avoided.

    Nothing that they have done thus far warrants US military action, in my opinion.

  31. Olgun

    Just finishing up my comment:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Genocide

    The Armenian Genocide[11] (Armenian: Հայոց ցեղասպանություն,[note 3] Hayots tseghaspanutyun), also known as the Armenian Holocaust,[12] was the Ottoman government’s systematic extermination of 1.5 million Armenians,[note 2] mostly Ottoman citizens within the Ottoman Empire and its successor state, the Republic of Turkey.[13][14] The starting date is conventionally held to be 24 April 1915, the day that Ottoman authorities rounded up, arrested, and deported 235 to 270 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders from Constantinople to the region of Ankara, the majority of whom were eventually murdered. The genocide was carried out during and after World War I and implemented in two phases: the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and subjection of army conscripts to forced labour, followed by the deportation of women, children, the elderly, and the infirm on death marches leading to the Syrian desert.

    […]

    Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, denies the word genocide as an accurate term for the mass killings of Armenians that began under Ottoman rule in 1915. It has in recent years been faced with repeated calls to recognize them as genocide.[27] To date, 29 countries have officially recognized the mass killings as genocide,[28] as have most genocide scholars and historians.[29][30][31]

  32. Dan

    Your comments are why I don’t trust ‘historical accounts’ and why I got involved in Cyprus politics. You will read that the problems in Cyprus began in 1974 which means that mine and my families/peoples suffering from 1963 to 1974 was trivial. You will not read that my aunt nearly died from infection of ticks because the Turkish Cypriots were forced into enclaves and denied even baby milk. You will not read that my mum was forced to strip naked and ogled by laughing Greek/Greek Cypriot soldiers. You will not read that the flour for bread, that was allowed through was emptied onto the ground at the check points and then the TC would be told to shovel it up and continue. The crunch in our bread was not from the crust but from the bits of grit from the road. You can find these accounts but they are not mainstream and the world seems to have dismissed them though some were written by prominent British present at the time. The newspapers of the time have been completely dismissed and the period has been made known as ‘intercommunal fighting’ regardless of a document found called the Akritas Plan which planned the distruction of the TCs. The world knew that Turkish soldiers killed six thousand GCs but my GC friends dad was burying Makarios supporters, killed by Greek coupists, with a bulldozer long before the Turkish army arrived. Makarioses speach to the UN forgotten in which he describes the streets littered with bodies and asks for intervention. Mass graves claimed by GCs that are now turning up TC bones with one were they buried the bus along with its passengers.

    So, both accounts can be wrong as well as right and is not impossible because there is a middle ground. The war of propaganda last much longer than the war itself and taints historical accounts. My GC friends sister was killed in 1974 and he believes it was the Turkish army because that is what he was told. He has no idea of Makarioses speech and the streets full of bodies and I haven’t got the heart to tell him there might be a different version as he is not the brightest button in the box but still we are like brothers. I had a tiff with a British politician recently (he campaigns for the TCs as well) because he puts the failure of us putting our points across, and effecting history writers, to TCs being too nice. He does not see the situation as the international community giving all the rights to GCs. The Palestinians face the same fate though have support because they fire an odd firework at the Jews. So fuck history books. A real history book would be long and rambling without any conclusion.

  33. Also:

    They won’t tell you of a five year old boy whose family ‘escaped’ (with a kick up the arse) who ended up in two rooms, with his parents and five siblings, in London waking up screaming several times a night because he did not understand what was going on, and who did not stop wetting the bed until the age of thirteen. He then went on to have a breakdown in his forties with vivid dreams he did not know he had memories of. I feel like crying each time I think of those children in Syria and Palestine.

  34. Alan4discussion #33:

    … I have to wonder how serious that threat really is? I think the
    real issue is the hangover from colonialism, WW2, the cold war
    partitioning of Korea, and the Korean war, with decades of simmering
    hostility between the communist North and the US supported right-wing
    South Korea.

    I agree. Somehow I doubt that Korea has adequate means to resist US arms, although they may surprise me. Somehow (from my point) this “threats” from them feels more like a show in a theatre… jus tacting, showing off but without real quality behind it. You know… all those demonstration of power, “lovely arms” to display. I don’t know… it is like in animal kingdom where some animals have this colourful feathers or other marks to look more scary to enemy in order to make sure the enemy does not get too close. I mean, if Korea really wanted to do something about their “threats” they would of done it, the fact they are hesitating (for decades) speaks to me they do not want war. On the other hand America is always provoking them, don’t want to live alone this old feud. I suspect they do not want to start war first so they are provoking and provoking until Korea explodes.

  35. Dan #35:

    I have heard from what I consider to be a reliable source that we cannot take out North Korea’s nuclear capability without using a nuclear bomb. A military conflict with North Korea would be an unmitigated disaster and must be avoided.

    I agree totally. Can you imagine droping a nuclear bomb on N.Korea? I mean, this politicians are real psychopats… they behave like it is nothing…just some new toy they are alowed to play. It is so easy to say “drop it” or to press a trigger on a weapon. A machine stands between you and a victim, and it feels like you had nothing to do with pressing the trigger but it is a function of a machine. So easy. Perhaps that is why all this bureaucrats do not see horrible consequences of pressing the button. 🙁 I would like US to turn and go away from N.Korea, and help at real things that matter in society like poverty, health and things like that. 🙂

  36. Olgun #38, #37

    I had my eyes filled with water with your words in #38. I can understand you. Sometimes, I would like to get revenge at all of those who started war at Yugoslavia, because of their greed and “correction of history” (ethnic conflict or some liberation from comunism, wich we had non, we had self-governing socialism, is only official reason and one for history books not real one). I can understand Dan as well, because he can rely only on official data,… but I think he knows what propaganda is and from his point of view (sometimes from my also) it is difficult to recognize the truth. 🙂 I see you are aware of middle ground, and I am glad that you have this awareness, and hope you will have it in the future despite wounds of that small boy and his familly who came to GB to save themselves.

    So, both accounts can be wrong as well as right and is not impossible
    because there is a middle ground.

    The history would be so much different if it was written with truth, and I would be so happy to see that, but I am in dilemma, because my actions in that direction would be another violent act of “correction of history” in somebody eyes (present generations which have been thought in schools and media of “official history”), but on the other hand I can not forget all those inocent children, women and men who were cleared from the face of this planet just because some psychopats thought they had right to correct history. I would like to do rightnesness for those inocents, but perhaps my involvement would cause that this vicious circle never will stop turning, and I would be agressor in somebody eyes. 🙁 That is why I would like that people start living now and not in past any more… but it is difficult… almost imposible.

    I can understand you, and I can understand Dan. … I hope you will find your way and your peace. 🙂

  37. Olgun,

    Let me wrap this up.

    I am only saying that every Greek I’ve ever met feels that the Turks were the bad ones. And everyone from Turkey feels the opposite way. That’s all I’m saying about that issue. I agree with you about the Palestinians. Always those damned rockets. Those rockets have killed a small handful of Israelis, nothing in comparison to the number of deaths of innocent Palestinian civilians caused by the Israelis. Propaganda from the Israeli government and the US is dreadful, monstrous.

    As for the Armenian issue I don’t think there is much to debate about, frankly.

    http://www.history.com/topics/armenian-genocide

    In 1915, leaders of the Turkish government set in motion a plan to expel and massacre Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire. Though reports vary, most sources agree that there were about 2 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire at the time of the massacre. By the early 1920s, when the massacres and deportations finally ended, some 1.5 million of Turkey’s Armenians were dead, with many more forcibly removed from the country. Today, most historians call this event a genocide–a premeditated and systematic campaign to exterminate an entire people. However, the Turkish government does not acknowledge the enormity or scope of these events. Despite pressure from Armenians and social justice advocates throughout the world, it is still illegal in Turkey to talk about what happened to Armenians during this era. […]

  38. Dan

    I hope you realise my anger is at the history tellers and not you. I am out of sorts today because yesterday I went to a part of Cyprus I have not been to before, at least as an adult. I sat at a beach bar with my dad (who wanted one more visit before he can travel no more) sister and wife with a tattered fence behind us only ten metres away, sipping Turkish coffee. Beyond that fence is a whole city with hotels and all. Some with bullet and bomb holes in them. The thing that upset me most was sat in the middle of some 60s and 70s ugly hotels and was a much older French colonial style hotel with iron railings and shutters on balconies. I could see a little inside and there were arches and ornate coving. It would have made a great setting for a comedy of errors or a romantic movie. It was beautiful though falling apart. I just couldn’t help but think what might have been. It made me sad and angry.

    Modesti

    Thank you for your kind words.

  39. Modesti

    “I would like to do rightnesses for those innocents, but perhaps my involvement would cause that this vicious circle never will stop turning, and I would be aggressor in somebody eyes. 🙁 That is why I would like that people start living now and not in past any more… but it is difficult… almost impossible.”

    That was a very poignant comment you made.

    Olgun,

    Yes, I understand. I was just making a point about how people from different sides interpret history differently, and that this is often problematic. I wasn’t taking sides on the Greece-Turkey issue. There is so much I don’t know. I appreciate your comments (#43).

  40. Modesti #39
    Apr 22, 2017 at 3:33 am

    Somehow I doubt that Korea has adequate means to resist US arms, although they may surprise me. Somehow (from my point) this “threats” from them feels more like a show in a theatre… jus tacting, showing off but without real quality behind it.

    Saddam did not have the means to resist the initial US onslaughts on Iraq, but that does not mean that in the following years, or at present, the matters are settled, or that the “liberated population” have anything to thank the US for!
    His earlier destruction of his “weapons of mass destruction” in response to the UN, along with the UN arms embargo and “sanctions” also contributed to Iraq’s inability to defend itself against invasion!

  41. Modesti,

    Korea has the ability to do great harm. They have nuclear weapons which we cannot destroy by a preemptive strike, and I have no doubt that NK will use them. Alan can tell you what the impact of one exploded nuclear bomb would be on the world. We’re talking about nuclear bombs.

  42. Dan #47
    Apr 22, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    Korea has the ability to do great harm. They have nuclear weapons which we cannot destroy by a preemptive strike, and I have no doubt that NK will use them.

    I doubt that they have operational or deliverable nuclear weapons at present, but their motivation in developing them, is decades of threats of invasion by foreign powers via the South.
    They have threatened to retaliate if attacked! The US could try just LEAVING THEM ALONE, and stop organising threatening military exercises on their southern border, where there is a demilitarised zone.

    They could then put some better efforts into improving the lives of their people in co-operation with China!

  43. The French intelligence services have just published the results of their investigation into the chemical attack on 4 April:

    http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/170425_-evaluation_nationaleanglais-_final_cle0dbf47.pdf

    Update: I can’t get the full link to become active, but copying the full URL and pasting it into a browser will do the trick.

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