Russian Official Claims US House Bill 1644 Amounts to A 'Declaration of War'
May 7, 2017
Sputnik News & GovTrack.us & Mathew Maavak / Sputnik News
The Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act, which passed the House by a near-unanimous vote, calls for enhancing sanctions against North Korea. But the chair of Russia's upper house of parliament's international committee has called the bill "an act of war" because it includes provisions for forced inspections of foreign vessels by US warships and presumes to extends US control over ports in China, Iran, Syria and the Russian Far East. Both acts constitute violations of international law.
US House Bill on Port Controls Amounts to
A 'Declaration of War' -- Russian Senator
(May 5, 2017) -- The "Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act," a US House of Representatives bill establishing control over the Russian Far East ports envisions a show of force and thus amounts to a declaration of war, the chairman of the Russian upper house of parliament's international committee told Sputnik.
"This bill, I hope will never be implemented because its implementation envisions a scenario of power with forced inspections of all vessels by US warships," Konstantin Kosachev said Friday.
His comments follow the reported passage on Thursday of a House bill [H.R. 1644] enhancing sanctions against North Korea, outlining "inspection authorities" over Chinese, Iranian, Syrian and Russian ports. The latter include the ports of Nakhodka, Vanino and Vladivostok.
"Such a power scenario is beyond comprehension, because it means a declaration of war," Kosachev underscored.
H.R. 1644: Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act
This was a vote to pass H.R. 1644 in the House. This vote was taken under a House procedure called "suspension of the rules" which is typically used to pass non-controversial bills. Votes under suspension require a 2/3rds majority. A failed vote under suspension can be taken again.
H.R. 1644 amends the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016 to modify and increase the President’s authority to impose sanctions on persons in violation of certain U.N. Security Council resolution regarding North Korea.
Specifically, the bill expands sanctions to deter North Korea's nuclear weapons programs, targets those individuals overseas who employ North Korean slave labor, cracks down on North Korean shipping and use of international ports, and requires the administration to determine whether North Korea is a state sponsor or terrorism.
[The single "no" vote was cast by Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) -- EAW.]
The Red Line of Common Sense:
The US Can't Control Russian Ports Without War
(May 6, 2017) -- Moscow lashed out at a US Congress bill on tightening sanctions against North Korea which stipulates that the US military may establish control over ports in the Russian Far East. The Russian Upper House warned that such actions violate international law and amount to a declaration of war.
On May 4, the US House of Representatives passed a bill which slapped more sanctions on North Korea and gave the Trump administration the go-ahead to take control over Russian, Iranian, Syrian and Chinese ports in order to ensure that no forbidden cargo reaches Pyongyang.
In particular, the bill mentions the ports of Nakhodka, Vanino and Vladivostok in the Russian Far East.
The bill, which was approved by a 419 to 1 margin, is due to be approved by the Senate and then signed by US President Donald Trump.
Tantamount to War
Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Russian Upper House's International Affairs Committee, told Sputnik that the US House of Representatives bill on establishing control over ports in the Russian Far East envisions a show of force and thus amounts to a declaration of war.
"This bill, I hope, will never be implemented because its implementation envisions a scenario of power with forced inspections of all vessels by US warships. Such a power scenario is beyond comprehension, because it means a declaration of war," Kosachev said.
According to him, the document, "like a huge number of other pies baked by Congress," runs counters to international law.
"No country in the world and no international organization, primarily the UN, has authorized the US to monitor the implementation of any resolutions of the UN Security Council," he said.
Kosachev called the bill Washington's attempt to "affirm the supremacy of its own legislation over international law," which he said is "the main problem of present-day international relations."
He was echoed by Alexey Pushkov, a member of the Russian Upper House, who specifically drew attention to the fact that the bill' final vote was 419 to 1, something that Pushkov said "indicates the nature of the legal and political culture of the US Congress."
"It is absolutely unclear how the bill will be implemented. To control Russian ports, the US will have to introduce a blockade and inspect all ships, which amounts to an act of war," he pointed out.
He shared Kosachev's view that Washington is trying to extend its legislation to other countries.
"But there is already a red line related to a common sense," Pushkov said, referring to the bill which he said will almost sure be adopted.
Andrey Krasov, first deputy head of the Russian Lower House's Defense Committee, in turn, told Sputnik that US control of the Russian Far Eastern ports is out of line with a general concept on maintaining international security.
He expressed confidence that no American ship will enter Russian territorial waters.
"Why on Earth did America assume the responsibilities, who gave it such powers to control the seaports of our country? Neither Russia nor international organizations asked Washington to do so," he said.
"One can only answer that any unfriendly step by the US Administration against Russia and our allies will receive a symmetrical adequate response. In any case, no American ship will enter our waters. Our armed forces and our fleet have every means to severely punish those who will dare to enter our territorial waters," Krasov said.
He described Washington's position on the matter as nothing but "saber-rattling."
"With a unipolar world already in place, they should accept the fact that there are BRICS countries, including Russia, China and India, and there is Iran; these are heavyweights which in principle do not fit into the US' overall concept on governing and ruling the whole world," Krasov concluded.
An absurd idea and a political move
Many Russian experts agreed that the US will not be able to implement the bill in practice.
Vladimir Baranov, head of a company which is expected to launch a ferry line between Vladivostok and the North Korean port of Rajin, said that this US move looks like a bluff.
"The US physically cannot control Russian ports -- you have to visit the port authority, demand documents, that sort of thing . . . This is essentially a bluff by the US, an attempt to show that it controls the world. Meanwhile, we'll be transporting whatever it is we need to transport," he said.
Alexander Latkin, a professor at the Vladivostok State University of Economics and Service, for his part, said that any attempt by the US to control Russian ports looks absurd.
"How could the US control our ports' operations? It might have been possible if the US possessed a percentage of the ports' equity, but as far as I know all of the shareholders are Russian. It is essentially a political move by the US. The Americans don't have any legal or economic basis for controlling our ports," he explained.
Meanwhile, Maxim Grigoryev, head of the Foundation for the Study of Democracy, told Sputnik Radio that while the US House of Representatives adopted the bill virtually anonymously, this entire situation has a touch of tragicomedy to it.
"A declaration about keeping an eye on what's going on in Russian ports sounds rather funny. However, what happened is that the US judicial authority has empowered its executive counterpart to present a report on this matter, which includes telling whether the sanctions against North Korea are being violated via Russian, Iranian and Syrian ports," according to him.
"I'd like to point out that the bill did not outline any inspection procedure as it would’ve been completely pointless, but the wording itself does look rather ambiguous. The US doesn't mind that it basically dictates that other countries must adhere to US legislation," he said.
Furthermore, he added, this bill was likely adopted to pave the way for another move against Russia.
"Clearly this is a preparation for some sort of statement to be made against Russia, Syria or China. This measure is unlikely to be related to real politics, because the US doesn't have any jurisdiction over other countries. But this is an obvious foundation for some propaganda campaign," Grigoryev concluded.
It is Not Just North Korea
But Asia That is in US Crosshairs
Mathew Maavak / Sputnik News
(April 25, 2017) -- Imagine that you lead the US deep state, and you are observing the real-time flow of Western technology, industry and next-generation skills to the East with alarm. How will you reverse this trend with one master stroke and temporarily staunch the decline of Pax Americana?
A rapid socio-economic meltdown across Asia might produce this hypothetical outcome, and this is where the current North Korean "crisis" may provide an opening gambit.
Amidst "rising tensions" on the Korean Peninsula -- while South Koreans are concerned with noodles, not nukes -- the United States has pre-emptively decided what is best for the region.
But the US war machinery is vacillating for good reasons and is unable to get its narrative and geography right. On April 11, President Donald J. Trump supposedly despatched an "armada" to counter North Korean provocations, right after striking Syria. Yet the "armada" led by the USS Vinson was discovered drifting in the opposite direction in the Sunda Strait.
This is nothing serious that can't be solved by hiring an American navigator who actually knows geography and game theorists with winning permutations on PlayStations.
The US armada is back on course for a showdown in the Korean Peninsula.
Gaming Out the Attack on North Korea
A pre-emptive naval strike against North Korea is the most likely option pursued if the madmen prevail in Washington. The strategic calculus here is "yuge" in its simplistic crudity: any North Korean retaliation may result in massive civilian casualties and Twitter-generated sympathies for the US-South Korea alliance.
Pyongyang has no other option. It will need to take out the Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, which hosts the United States Forces Korea (USFK) headquarters, particularly the Combined Forces Command (CFC).
As Globalsecurity.org succinctly puts it: "The role of Combined Forces Command (CFC) during the armistice is to deter war. CFC's wartime role is to defeat external aggression. The CFC is commanded by a four-star US general, with a four-star ROK Army general as deputy commander.
Throughout the command structure, binational manning is readily apparent: if the chief of a staff section is Korean, the deputy is American and vice versa. This integrated structure exists within the component commands as well as the headquarters. All CFC components are tactically integrated through continuous combined and joint planning, training and exercises."
Any unilateral US strike on North Korea would automatically drag South Korea as a junior partner in a war it never desired, simply because the Americans wrote all the rules of engagement since the 1953 armistice.
The Yongsan garrison is only a 3-minute drive away from Seoul's financial center and straddles heavily populated areas. For decades, US-scripted propaganda had invoked the specter of millions of South Korean casualties from Pyongyang's artillery range.
Lost in this giddy script are the war crimes committed by US troops against the Korean people during the 1950-53 war.
Was the CFC using 25 million people in the greater Seoul metropolitan area as human shields against North Korea? High civilian casualties are guaranteed in the event of a conflict as Pyongyang's projectiles lack precision-guidance.
Due to this manifest danger, the US was pressured for years to relocate the CFCto Pyeongtaek. But this will not happen before 2019 and by then, the US Army would probably be battling its own impoverished citizens back home.
Time is running out to take down Asia.
Rise of the Taeguk Warrior
Some genius in Washington may have been inspired by a redux of the orchestrated "Mi-Guk, Mi-Guk" (Mi-Guk is Korean for the United States) chants that greeted US soldiers in the 50s.
The modern reality is vastly different. South Korea (and Japan) is awash with anti-American undercurrents. During the 2006 World Cup in Germany, US army personnel in Yongsan were advised by their commanders to avoid passionate South Korean fans who would gather in their tens of thousands to watch giant open air live telecasts of their national team in action.
There was a good precedent for this injunction: During the 2002 World Cup, a US military vehicle struck and killed two young schoolgirls in Seoul, sparking an unprecedented outburst of anti-Americanism that combined explosively with soccer-fuelled nationalism.
These are South Korea's Taeguk warriors. Imagine how they will react once even 200 South Koreans are killed in a tit-for-tat military exchange between Uncle Samael and Kim Jong-un? The lives of South Koreans naturally matter less to American uber-patriots like Senators John "I hate those Gooks" McCain and Lindsey Graham who was the "happiest dude in America" after the April 6 attack on Syria.
There is something more that may make Graham, McCain, Trump and the 130 million Americans who elected them even happier: the destruction of a thriving multi-trillion dollar Asian economy that is eclipsing the West in unprecedented ways.
There is no way the West will countenance an ascendant Asia, and it has been probing every possible geo-economic Achilles Heel to bring the East to heel. The War on Terror now appears like a botched US-Saudi plot to control the flow of fossil fuel to an energy-dependent Asia.
Yet, instead of allowing its destinies to be controlled, Asian nations launched a series of strategic fuel and grain reserve programs since the 9/11 terror attacks. Asia can no longer be held to joint US-Saudi petrol blackmail as long as Iran, Russia and Venezuela continue to pump and export oil and gas to the rest of the world. The demonization of these nations, therefore, should not come as a surprise.
From a geostrategic viewpoint, it is not the Westward contours of Middle Eastern pipelines that may have worried Washington and its hordes but rather the unfettered flow of Iranian and Russian oil to an ascendant Asia.
Syria alone would have done well with untold millions levied on pipelines traversing its territory. Alternative motives behind the Arab Spring and Maidan coup should re-considered in the light of an Asian contagion that may be sparked off in the Korean peninsula.
Mathew Maavak is a writer and geopolitical observer residing in Malaysia.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.
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