Donald Trump: US will build up nuclear arsenal

Donald Trump: US will build up nuclear arsenal

President Donald Trump has warned that the US will bolster its nuclear arsenal to put pressure on Russia and China.

Speaking to reporters, he repeated his belief that Russia has violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which he has threatened to leave. Russia denies this.

The Cold War-era treaty banned medium-range missiles, reducing the perceived Soviet threat to European nations.

Russia has warned it will respond in kind if the US develops more weapons.

Mr Trump said the US would build up its arsenal “until people come to their senses”.

He added: “It’s a threat to whoever you want to include China and it includes Russia and it includes anybody else that wants to play that game… [Russia has] not adhered to the spirit of that agreement or to the agreement itself.”

Meanwhile, US National Security Adviser John Bolton has been holding talks in Moscow after Russia condemned the US plan to quit the deal.

Mr Bolton was told that the US withdrawal would be a “serious blow” to the non-proliferation regime.

However, Russia’s Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev also said the Kremlin was “ready” to work with the US to remove “mutual” grievances over the INF.

As Mr Bolton began his visit, Moscow warned it would take steps to maintain the balance of nuclear power.

“We need to hear the American side’s explanation on this issue,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “Scrapping the treaty forces Russia to take steps for its own security.”

What does the treaty say?

The INF treaty was signed by US President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, in the final years of the Cold War.

It banned ground-launched medium-range missiles, with a range of between 500 and 5,500km (310-3,400 miles), both nuclear and conventional.

On Sunday, one of the original signatories of the INF treaty, Mikhail Gorbachev, said a US withdrawal would reverse efforts made to achieve nuclear disarmament.

But the US insists the Russians have, in breach of the deal, developed a new medium-range missile called the Novator 9M729 – known to Nato as the SSC-8 – which would enable Russia to launch a nuclear strike at Nato countries at very short notice.

Moscow denies the missile breaches the treaty but Nato said in July that Russia had failed to provide any “credible answer” over the missile and concluded that “the most plausible assessment would be that Russia is in violation of the treaty”.

Germany’s foreign minister has described Mr Trump’s planned withdrawal from the INF as “regrettable”, and described the agreement as “hugely important, particularly for us in Europe”.

But leaving the INF is also seen as a counter-move to China, which has not signed up to the deal and can therefore develop such weapons at will.

The decision could create uncertainty over the future of other disarmament agreements between the US and Russia, such as the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty which ends in February 2021.

The last time the US withdrew from a major arms treaty was in 2002, when President George W Bush pulled the US out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which banned weapons designed to counter ballistic nuclear missiles.

Khashoggi death: US meets Saudi crown prince despite criticism

Khashoggi death: US meets Saudi crown prince despite criticism

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A senior US official has held talks with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince in Riyadh, despite growing concern over the Saudis’ role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met Mohammed bin Salman on Monday.

Turkish officials say Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after a visit on 2 October.

Saudi officials have given a series of conflicting accounts, but now say a “rogue operation” was to blame.

They initially said Khashoggi had left the consulate on the same day he visited it. Last Friday they admitted for the first time he was dead and said he had been killed in a “fist fight”.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he will reveal the “naked truth” of the matter in parliament on Tuesday.

What do we know of the Riyadh talks?

Saudi state media reported that Mr Mnuchin and the crown prince had stressed “the importance of the Saudi-US strategic partnership”.

The meeting in the Saudi capital was held behind closed doors and the US has so far made no public comment on the talks.

Khashoggi death: US meets Saudi crown prince despite criticism

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They were held despite the fact that Mr Mnuchin – like a number of other Western politicians and businessmen – had pulled out of a major investment forum being held in the Saudi capital this week.

President Donald Trump’s latest comment suggests the US is yet to decide on its response.

“I am not satisfied with what I’ve heard,” Mr Trump told reporters at the White House.

But he added: “I don’t want to lose all that investment that’s been made in our country,” referring to the multi-billion-dollar arms deals with Saudi Arabia.

He said: “We’re going to get to the bottom of it.”

Mr Trump also said he had discussed the issue with the Saudi crown prince, seen as the country’s most powerful figure.

The Saudis say they have arrested 18 people, sacked two aides of Mohammed bin Salman and set up a body, under his leadership, to reform the intelligence agency over the killing.

How has the Saudi version changed and what of the crown prince?

Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir provided the latest comments, saying the killing was a “rogue operation”.

“We are determined to find out all the facts and we are determined to punish those who are responsible for this murder,” he said.

“The individuals who did this did this outside the scope of their authority,” he added. “There obviously was a tremendous mistake made, and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to try to cover up.”

He said that Saudi Arabia did not know where the body was.

Mr Jubeir insisted that the action had not been ordered by the crown prince.

Khashoggi death: US meets Saudi crown prince despite criticism

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However, Yeni Safak, a media outlet close to Turkey’s government, said it had information showing that the office of the crown prince received four phone calls from the consulate after the killing.

Reuters news agency reported on Sunday it had spoken to a Saudi official who said Khashoggi had died in a chokehold after resisting attempts to return him to Saudi Arabia. His body was then rolled in a rug and given to a local “co-operator” to dispose of.

A Saudi operative then reportedly donned Khashoggi’s clothes and left the consulate.

CNN quoted a senior Turkish official as saying a Saudi agent had been captured on surveillance footage dressed as the journalist.

The video appears to show the man leaving the consulate by the back door on the day the journalist was killed, wearing Khashoggi’s clothes, a fake beard and glasses, CNN said.

In another development, Turkish police found a car belonging to the Saudi consulate left in an underground car park in Istanbul.

Turkish media also posted footage apparently showing Saudi consular staff in Istanbul burning documents a day after Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Turkey’s ‘full account’ vow

Analysis by BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner

After weeks of calculated and often lurid leaks to the Turkish media, Tuesday morning’s statement by President Erdogan is eagerly awaited.

Turkey has promised “a full account” of what happened to Khashoggi, with nothing held back.

So that would include the widely reported audio tape from inside the Saudi consulate then? And evidence of the “bone saw” allegedly brought in by the hit team that killed him?

Because both of these elements are crucial in establishing the facts about what happened and the motives of his murderers. If evidence of the bone saw can be produced then it would certainly imply murderous intent by the hit team from Riyadh.

The audio tape of his murder – if it does exist – could be excruciating to listen to – but is an essential part of the puzzle of how Khashoggi died. But Turkey, a country that has itself jailed more journalists than any other nation on Earth, may have its own reasons for holding back on what it has.

For the full story, we may have to wait a little longer yet.

How have other world leaders reacted?

Many of them have condemned the murder and demanded a full investigation:

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel said “it must be cleared up”, otherwise there would be no arms exports to Saudi Arabia
  • UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt condemned the killing “in the strongest possible terms”
  • French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the murder was a grave crime
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau threatened to cancel a multi-billion-dollar defence contract
  • President Erdogan’s adviser dismissed the Saudi explanations as mockery

But several of Saudi Arabia’s regional allies – including Kuwait and Egypt – have come out in its support.

Sea cucumber called 'headless chicken monster' recorded for second time

Sea cucumber called 'headless chicken monster' recorded for second time

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Expanding camera technology has allowed us to capture more and more with each technological advancement. Now, new camera technology developed by Australian researchers is shedding light on the deeper parts of the ocean and exactly what lives down in the dark.

A creature whose name translates to “headless chicken monster” is the most recent sighting of rarely seen creatures off East Antarctica in Southern Ocean waters.

The headless chicken monster, whose scientific name is Enypniastes eximia, is a kind of deep-sea cucumber with the ability to swim because of its wing-like fins.

Sea cucumbers are echinoderms, a phylum of invertebrate marine animals that includes starfish and sea urchins. They’re generally ocean-floor dwellers and feed on tiny particles like algae. There are about 1,250 known species, some of which are harvested illegally because they’re prized as delicacies and folk-medicine ingredients.

The headless chicken monster has been seen only one other time, in the Gulf of Mexico, according to Australia’s Department of Energy and Conservation. This time, the creature was recorded during a project using cameras to understand the effects of long-line fishing on species that live in deeper parts of the ocean.

“The cameras are providing important information about areas of sea floor that can withstand this type of fishing, and sensitive areas that should be avoided,” said Dr. Dirk Welsford, program leader for the Australian Antarctic Division.

In the video captured by the Australian researchers, the transparent red monster can be seen foraging on the ocean floor with various tentacles, as if it’s going for a stroll. It can also be seen swimming upward with its fins, which most sea cucumbers can’t do.

“Some of the footage we are getting back from the cameras is breathtaking, including species we have never seen in this part of the world,” Welsford said.

He elaborated on the special camera, saying, “We needed something that could be thrown from the side of a boat and would continue operating reliably under extreme pressure in the pitch black for long periods of time.”

Koreas to remove guns and guard posts from Panmunjom 'truce town'

Koreas to remove guns and guard posts from Panmunjom 'truce town'

North and South Korea have agreed to remove guns and guard posts from Panmunjom, the “truce town” that straddles their border.

Also known as the Joint Security Area (JSA), Panmunjom is the only place along the border where troops from the two Koreas face each other.

The aim is to reduce tensions between the two countries.

Earlier this month, troops from both sides started removing about 800,000 landmines buried along the border.

“The two Koreas and the UNC [US-led United Nations Command] agreed to take measures of withdrawing firearms and military posts from the JSA by 25 October, and for the following two days, the three parties will conduct a joint verification,” the South Korean defence ministry in Seoul said in a statement.

The three parties also confirmed the completion of the demining operations in the JSA, it said.

Meanwhile, a group of North Korean officials left for Russia on Monday, the North’s official news agency said, amid speculation that leader Kim Jong-un is planning to visit the country later this month or early next month.

Monday’s talks were the second meeting of a trilateral JSA commission made up of the two Koreas and the UN Command, which has overseen affairs in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) since the end of hostilities in the 1950-53 Korean War.

The village is used as a meeting point, and the leaders of the two Koreas met there twice this year.

But over the years it has also seen a number of armed skirmishes. Last December, a North Korean soldier was shot and seriously injured by his own side while defecting to the South.

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By Thursday, firearms and guard posts will be removed from the zone, which could reduce the likelihood of similar incidents.

Relations between the North and the South – which are still technically at war – have improved in recent months.

Monday’s move was agreed when Kim Jong-un and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in met last month in Pyongyang for talks that centred on the stalled denuclearisation negotiations.

That came after a historic meeting between Mr Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June in which the pair agreed, in broad terms, to work towards a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.

In April, South Korea said it had stopped broadcasting propaganda via loudspeakers along the border to “ease the military tension between the two Koreas”.

As migrant caravan continues north, some debate staying or moving forward

As migrant caravan continues north, some debate staying or moving forward

TAPACHULA, Mexico — About 7,000 migrants, including many who crossed the Guatemala-Mexico border last week, woke up in a Tapachula park Monday morning to find that the little amount of belongings they had brought with them were soaked in overnight rains.

While donations and aid from the Mexican Red Cross can make up for some of what they have lost on the way, the migrants have a bigger concern to address: whether to stay in Mexico or continue traveling toward the United States. Either way, their goal is to seek refuge.

For some in the caravan, the question is whether to stay in the southern part of Mexico where they spent the night or continue the arduous walk north toward the U.S.-Mexico border.

One mother was debating whether to stay behind and return to Honduras. The journey was too dangerous, she felt.

But others seemed determined to make the grueling trek to the U.S. It’s not clear when they will arrive, but the tentative plan was for them to walk to Arriaga — arriving in several days — and then take trains toward Tijuana.

Several members of the group Pueblo Sin Fronteras, which loosely organized the caravan, said in a press conference on Monday morning that they would help the migrants “process humanitarian visas alongside the proper authorities in charge of doing so.”

Since joining the caravan, the morning routine of people like the Lopez family consists of cleaning up the space where they slept, brushing their teeth with bottled water and eating donated bread for breakfast.

Raquel and Manuel Lopez left their home in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, with their three children to seek economic opportunities.

Oct. 22, 201802:04

“There’s no food, no jobs. We’re hungry,” the family told NBC. They plan to continue north.

Like the Lopez family, thousands of other migrants were getting ready to leave Tapachula.

President Donald Trump posted a series of tweets blaming Democrats for the caravan and threatening to cut foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Trump also tweeted that “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in.” From a total of over 400,000 crossings, about 3,000 people from the Middle East and Africa have been apprehended at the border during the last fiscal year, according to NBC News reporter Julia Ainsley, who spoke with officials at the Department of Homeland Security.

Raquel and Manuel Lopz with their three children, Josselyn, Mayli and Melissa.Raquel and Manuel Lopz with their three children, Josselyn, Mayli and Melissa.Natalie Valdes / NBC News

The migrants, mainly from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador — referred to as the Northern Triangle of Latin America — are part of a caravan of people who for the most part are fleeing poverty and violence in their communities.

Honduras is among the countries with the world’s highest rates of murder, violence and corruption, according to Human Rights Watch. Roughly one in five Hondurans live in extreme poverty, according to the World Bank. It is also the Latin American country with the highest level of economic inequality.

The Northern Triangle is home to transnational gangs such as MS-13 and the 18th Street Gang, both founded in Los Angeles, as well as drug cartels and criminal organizations with origins in the area’s civil wars. Over the years, rampant crime and gang activity in these countries have fueled waves of immigration to the U.S.; while many Central Americans living in the U.S. have fled gang violence, others are political or economic exiles.

Last week, Trump said via Twitter that he would “call up the U.S. Military and close our southern border” if Mexico doesn’t stop the caravan from coming to the U.S.

Nicole Acevedo reported from New York, and NBC producer Natalie Valdés and NBC News correspondent Gabe Gutierrez reported from Mexico.

Saudi Arabia has 'no intention' of weaponizing oil as a retaliatory measure

Saudi Arabia has 'no intention' of weaponizing oil as a retaliatory measure

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Saudi Arabia has “no intention” of stopping oil production or exports as a retaliatory measure against potential sanctions, top energy official Khalid al-Falih told Russian media outlet TASS on Monday.

A number of American lawmakers have called for punitive actions against Saudi Arabia for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Washington Post columnist and Saudi national, who had been living in self-imposed exile in the United States after criticizing the regime, had disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Turkey on Oct. 2. After weeks of insisting that it was unaware of Khashoggi’s whereabouts, despite video documentation of the dissident entering — but not leaving — the consulate, Saudi officials confirmed on Friday that Khashoggi had been killed.

The incident is turning into a diplomatic crisis for Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 33-year-old leader who had been heralded as a reformer with a vision to wean the Kingdom off its dependence on petroleum exports.

Although Saudi government officials have denied that the crown prince had a hand in Khashoggi’s killing, it has badly tarnished his reputation and that of his flagship economic conference scheduled to take place this week. Top American business leaders including the CEOs of JP Morgan Chase and Uber have dropped out, along with Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, among others.

President Donald Trump promised “very severe” punitive measures if evidence of bin Salman’s involvement emerges, prompting a statement from Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry threatening a “stronger measure” of retaliation. Given the Kingdom’s oil-dominated export sector and its role as de facto leader of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, some market-watchers had expressed concern that its formidable contribution to the global supply could be weaponized.

“I don’t find it surprising that Saudi Arabia is coming out swinging on the issue — they’ve been backed into a corner,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.

In his TASS interview, al-Falih appeared to put that concern to rest. “Rational people in the world know that oil is a very important commodity for the rest of the world. If oil prices will go too high, it will slow down the world economy and would trigger a global recession,” he said.

A dramatic jump in prices would have a rapid effect on worldwide economic growth, according to Oxford Economics, which calculated that $100 oil could shave roughly one-third of a percentage point off global GDP growth in 2019 and 2020, and could contribute an additional 0.7 percent to global inflation.

In an analysis of GDP impact on 26 countries, Oxford found that only three — Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates — would see a significant economic benefit if Brent crude oil prices were $100 a barrel.

“I do not believe Saudi Arabia is foolish enough to embargo oil, since it could lead to a global meltdown, higher oil prices, and eventually, as they become more isolated from other countries, a murky path forward in which they would be even more reliant on crude exports to keep their economy afloat,” DeHaan said.

At the same time, the upcoming deadline on Iran sanctions that will effectively remove its output from the market could inject volatility into oil prices, potentially giving Saudi Arabia diplomatic leverage. “It is very important for the world to support Saudi Arabia, because it is the only country that invests heavily in spare capacities,” al-Falih said. “Saudi Arabia needs to be appreciated and supported, recognized for doing very honorable duty for the rest of the global community.”