North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A US-India visit

President Obama is on a multi-day visit to India. This is an important visit for both countries, as India is a strategic power in South Asia, one that the US wants as a counterbalance to China, as well as a future trading power.

The Presidential party being hosted under a tent at a state dinner

India views strengthened US ties as important considering its hostile relationship with its neighbor Pakistan, and also for enhancing its own global position.

Besides some initial announcements of enhanced bilateral trade details, India was satisfied to hear President Obama announce his support for India to receive a seat at the UN's permanent Security Council. As one paper tells, "President Barack Obama, in a speech to the Indian Parliament, for the first time publicly backed India's inclusion as a permanent member in the United Nations Security Council.

President Obama addresses the India Parliament

"The just and sustainable international order that America seeks includes a United Nations that is efficient, effective, credible and legitimate," Mr. Obama said. "That is why I can say today—in the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed U.N. Security Council that includes India as a permanent member."

The gesture toward India was long-sought by New Delhi and greeted warmly by the Indian Parliament during the speech. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said the move was meant to formalize India's rise as a world and regional power, and Mr. Obama said repeatedly here that he viewed India not as "a rising power" but a power that has already risen."

The position would establish India as a global power, joining the other leaders, US, Britain, France, Russia, and China. It is not an easy path to take on, and immediately, Pakistan and China announced their opposition, one strongly, the other in measured terms. He also said the administration wasn't backing away from Washington's longstanding call for a Japanese permanent seat.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry criticized Mr. Obama's statement and said the U.S. should "take a moral view and not base itself on any temporary expediency or exigencies of power politics.' China has long opposed a permanent seat for India on the council. Liu Yutang, spokesman for the Chinese mission to the U.N., said the mission "was still reading the news" and that the Foreign Ministry in Beijing would issue a statement.

The UN seat has long been held by the five leading nuclear powers, and India would be the first to take a seat when it has consistently refused to sign a Non-Proliferation treaty. That treaty binds nations from spreading nuclear weapon technology. President Obama's support for India's membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) could have a more immediate impact on global affairs than the Security Council issue, said security experts.

The 46-nation NSG was created in the 1970s by developed countries to more tightly control the spread of technologies used in producing nuclear fuel. Member states initially needed to be signatures to the U.N.'s Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and have no history of abusing global export controls.

India's first nuclear powered submarine

New Delhi has refused to sign the NPT and was sanctioned by the U.S. in the 1990s for conducting a covert nuclear-weapons test. Proliferation experts worry India's potential membership to the NSG could significantly weaken the informal body and diminish fears among aspiring nuclear states that they might face punishment if they subvert global nonproliferation bodies.

"You have to worry where this is all headed," said Henry Sokolski, head of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, a Washington think tank. "Will any rules continue to apply?"

First Lady Michele Obama a great hit with students and the press

That aside, India, with this high profile trip from the sitting US President, has signaled to the world that this nation of over 1 billion people, and the world's oldest democracy, has walked out on center stage.

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