While President Trump was threatening to “totally destroy North Korea” this week in his address to the United Nations, the navies of Russia and China were engaged a maritime joint exercise less than 100 miles from the North Korean border with Russia.
The Russia-China exercises were the second this year and part of the so-called Joint-Sea 2017 program. The first drills in the exercise were held in the Baltic Sea in July and were closely watched by NATO and European countries, who were already on edge about Russia’s recent military muscle-flexing.
This week’s drills started in the Russian Far East port city of Vladivostok, home base of the Russian Pacific Fleet, and will continue for eight days on both land and sea. Submarine rescue and anti-submarine drills will take place in the Sea of Japan and spread into the Sea of Okhotsk, just north of Japan.
Significant strides have been made in halting the spread of polio and global health officials are on the verge of eradicating the crippling and potentially deadly disease — but two challenges stand in the way, according to international health officials and children’s advocates.
One is the lack of accessibility to particular areas in countries where the disease is prevalent, said Reza Hossaini, director of polio eradication at the United Nations Children’s Fund. Transmission of polio has never stopped in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan — where there are areas of conflict, insurgents have control, or infrastructure inadequacies limit access.
Devastated by conflict, widespread cholera and the total collapse of infrastructure, Yemen has reached the precipice of a humanitarian catastrophe and there is “no hope” for resolving the crisis anytime soon.
That grim assessment of the situation in the poverty-stricken Arab nation came during media briefings this week on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, where the theme of discussions is “Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet.”
“The prescription for the future at the very best is bleak,” said Jamie McGoldrick, the U.N.’s resident humanitarian coordinator in Yemen. “It’s a disaster. I believe I’ll be coming back to [the U.N. General Assembly] next year with bigger numbers, and more desperate a situation … because there's nothing on the horizon that looks like it's going to go anywhere soon.”
Taiwan has its own military, currency and immigration controls. Despite these hallmarks of nationhood, the island of 23 million people cannot join the United Nations or observe the events of U.N. organizations.
After more than 10 years of trying, Taiwan has run out of applications to get inside the United Nations itself, the U.N.-backed World Health Assembly, its climate control convention and the International Civil Aviation Organization.
All applications are dead, a Taiwanese Foreign Ministry publicist said Wednesday.
If Japan has any qualms about President Trump’s confrontational rhetoric toward North Korea, its leader isn’t letting on.
“We consistently support the stance of the United States that all options are on the table,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, five days after North Korea sent a ballistic missile streaking above the Japanese archipelago — the second such overflight in less than three weeks.
Abe, speaking a day after Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if necessary to defend the United States or its allies, declared that the North’s mercurial leader, Kim Jong Un, is a greater menace than ever.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday that “Israel is not interested” in achieving peace.
“A commitment to peace by one side is not enough,” said Abbas, who listed various peace blueprints put together over the decades and accused Israel of sabotaging them all.
The Palestinian leader spoke a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the world body. In his speech, Netanyahu made only a brief reference to hopes for peace with all of Israel’s Arab neighbors in the region, including the Palestinians.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, addressing the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, sharply questioned President Trump’s authority to single-handedly scrap the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear accord, saying the pact “belongs to the international community in its entirety, and not only to one or two” governments.
“It would be a great pity if this agreement were to be destroyed by rogue newcomers to the world of politics,” the Iranian president said, an apparent reference to Trump’s repeated hints — including one delivered at the world body a day earlier — that he was poised to tear up the accord, which was negotiated between six world powers and Iran.
Trump told reporters on Wednesday he had made a decision about the pact, but did not disclose it.
President Trump said Wednesday he has made a decision on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal - but didn't say if he would scrap the landmark agreement or stay in it.
"I have decided," Trump repeated three times in response to shouted questions from reporters. When pressed on what specifically he decided, Trump smiled and said, "I'll let you know."
By his cryptic response, Trump seemed to be bringing to global diplomacy his penchant for building suspense honed during years as a reality television star. Yet as recently as Tuesday, administration officials were still preparing options for him to consider before an Oct. 15 deadline for certifying Iran's compliance with the agreement to block its work toward nuclear weaponry.
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani addressed the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday in a speech that praised U.S. plans to send thousands more troops to the country in the long-standing fight against terrorism.
Ghani said that 16 years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, which resulted in a U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, violence by terrorist groups remained a substantial threat in the country.
"Driven by transnational terrorist networks, criminal organizations, cyber crime and state sponsorship of terror," the violence "promises to be a decade-long threat to national security rather than a passing phenomenon," he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had little to say about prospects for peace with the Palestinians — but plenty to say about the Iran nuclear accord, which he vehemently opposes.
Netanyahu, addressing the General Assembly on its opening day Tuesday, called Iran’s nuclear ambitions a “dark shadow” and said its rulers “vow to destroy my country.” That echoed rhetoric employed a short time earlier by President Trump, who called Iran’s government a “reckless regime” and suggested the landmark 2015 accord would be revisited.
Calling yet again for the scrapping of the pact between Iran and six world powers, Netanyahu said the nuclear deal “doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb, but actually paves it.”