US Plans To Enforce U.N. Sanctions on Iran With Its Own Action

The United States said on Wednesday it plans to impose sanctions on those who violate a U.N. arms embargo on Iran, which Washington says will now stay in place instead of expiring in October as agreed under a 2015 nuclear deal. U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela and Iran Elliott Abrams said Washington could deny access to the U.S. market to anyone who trades in weapons with Iran, which President Donald Trump’s administration accuses of seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has denied it is developing nuclear weapons. In 2018 Trump quit the Iran nuclear deal – under which Tehran limited its nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief – and reimposed U.S. sanctions. Washington also says it has triggered a return of all U.N. sanctions on Iran, which would take effect this weekend. But the other parties to the nuclear deal – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – and most of the U.N. Security Council have said they do not believe the United States can reimpose the U.N. sanctions. “It’s like pulling a trigger and no bullet comes out,” a senior U.N. Security Council diplomat said on condition of anonymity. “There will be no snapback, the sanctions will remain suspended, the JCPOA (nuclear deal) will remain in place.” Asked if Washington is “making concrete plans now for secondary sanctions” to enforce the arms embargo, Abrams told reporters: “We are, in many ways, and we will have some announcements over the weekend and more announcements on Monday and then subsequent days next week.” Diplomats say few nations are likely to reimpose U.N. sanctions on Iran. Earlier on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters, “We’ll do all the things we need to do to ensure that those sanctions are enforced.” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday described the opposition to Washington as a “victory of the Iranian nation and the disgraceful defeat of the United States in activation of the snapback mechanism.” (Reporting by Arshad Mohammed, Doina Chiacu and David Brunnstrom in Washington, Michelle Nichols at United Nations and Parisa Hafezi in Dubai; Writing by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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Pompeo Says Chinese Companies Follow Predatory Practices in Mekong Region

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday said China’s state-owned companies engage in predatory business practices in the Mekong River region and the Chinese Communist Party is responsible for much of the boom in trafficking of persons, drugs and wildlife there. The new U.S.-Mekong Partnership launched Friday will help combat these transnational crimes and will strengthen water security for partner countries where China’s manipulation of the river has exacerbated a drought, he said. The U.S. is “concerned about infrastructure-linked debt and the predatory and opaque business practices of Beijing’s state-owned actors, such as China Communications Construction Co. (CCCC),” Pompeo said in a statement. Last month, a senior State Department official also named CCCC when he said upstream damming pursued by Beijing in the Mekong River has been done in “a completely nontransparent and non-consultative way.” “And there is a – actually a specific CCCC angle to the Mekong environmental concern story given CCCC’s role in would-be Chinese plans to blast and dredge the Mekong River, which could have potentially catastrophic effects on the downstream communities, the scores of millions of people whose livelihoods rely on the Mekong,” the official who was not named said during a special briefing. On Monday, Pompeo also said companies and groups associated with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) are linked to human and narcotics trafficking in the Mekong region. His statement did not provide evidence to support the allegation. “Concerning also is the boom in trafficking of persons, drugs and wildlife, much of which emanates from organizations, companies and special economic zones linked to the CCP.” Pompeo also said the CCP is withholding Mekong water, adding downstream countries must hold it accountable by asking it to share water data through the Mekong River Commission. “The CCP’s unilateral decisions to withhold water upstream have exacerbated an historic drought,” he said. “We encourage countries of the Mekong region to hold the CCP accountable to its pledge to share its water data.  That data should be public.  It should be released year-round.  It should include water and water-related data, as well as land use, and dam construction and operation data.” U.S. pledges $154 million to Mekong region Countries of the Mekong – Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam – “deserve good partners,” Pompeo said. The U.S. has pledged a total of $156.4 million for a host of initiatives under the U.S.-Mekong Partnership. These include $52 million to support COVID-19 recovery, $55 million to counter transnational crime, $33 million to develop energy markets under Asia EDGE (Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy), $6.6 million to improving energy infrastructure and markets in the Mekong region, and $2 million to counter trafficking in persons. These initiatives were announced Friday at the first U.S.-Mekong Partnership Ministerial Meeting held to launch the partnership. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen E. Biegun was the U.S. representative at the virtual meeting. “The United States is committed to supporting the resilience and autonomy of countries in the Mekong region and will work with all partners who share our principled, transparent approach,” State Department spokesman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement after the meeting. Pompeo said on Monday that the U.S. will also work closely “with partners like Japan, Australia, South Korea, India, and other good friends of the Mekong.” The partnership’s launch Friday coincided with last week’s series of meetings at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ministerial summit. Pompeo on Friday reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to Southeast Asia and ASEAN and accused China of “aggression” in the South China Sea. “We stand with our ASEAN partners as we insist on the rule of law and respect for sovereignty in the South China Sea, where Beijing has pursued aggressive campaigns of coercion and environmental devastation,” Pompeo said in a statement released during the summit. On Monday, Pompeo said the U.S.-Mekong Partnership “is an integral part of our Indo-Pacific vision and our strategic partnership with ASEAN.” Reported by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.

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US ‘Deeply Concerned’ About Hong Kong Activists Held in China: Pompeo

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday Washington is deeply concerned about 12 Hong Kong democracy activists being held in China, saying they have been denied access to lawyers and local authorities have not provided information on their welfare or the charges against them. The United States questions the Hong Kong leadership’s commitments to protecting citizens’ rights, Pompeo said in a statement. The activists were arrested about two weeks ago off the coast of Hong Kong, according to the statement. At the end of August the provincial Coast Guard Bureau said on its social media site that it had arrested at least 10 people after intercepting a boat off the cost of the southern province of Guangdong. Hong Kong media, citing unidentified sources, said the 12 were headed to Taiwan to apply for political asylum. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said earlier this week that if they “were arrested for breaching mainland offences then they have to be dealt with according to the mainland laws.” “We question Chief Executive Lam’s stated commitment to protecting the rights of Hong Kong residents, and call on authorities to ensure due process,” Pompeo said. On Saturday, the Chinese foreign ministry’s Hong Kong office expressed “firm opposition” to Pompeo’s remarks and demanded that U.S. politicians cease interfering with Hong Kong’s internal issues. “The United States has its own economic and social problems, frequent racial conflicts, and a high number of coronavirus infections and deaths. It should have focused on handling domestic affairs,” it said in a statement. In Hong Kong, families of six of the 12 detained activists donned masks and hats to shield their identities and demanded the urgent return of their relatives. It was the families’ first public appeal for help and information on their plight. The arrests come as local activists and politicians fear a worsening clamp-down across the former British colony as a sweeping new national security law imposed by Beijing in July takes full effect. (Reporting by Lisa Lambert, additiona reporting by Josh Horwitz in Shanghai; Editing by Mohammad Zargham, Grant McCool and Kim Coghill)

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