Missed opportunity: on cancellation of Trump-Kim summit
- American President Donald Trump’s abruptly call off his planned June 12 meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore.
- US decision to call off the meeting has dashed hopes of a breakthrough between US and North Korea. It also heightened risks of a confrontation on the Korean peninsula.
- After the announcement of summit proposal, North Korea makes a series of gestures meant to improve the path for the meeting
- North korea and south Korean President Moon Jae-in meet at a border village in the demilitarised zone.
- The North pledged to halt nuclear and missile tests,
- Released three Korean-Americans.
- It dismantled its Punggye-ri nuclear test site
- In return US response was not so positive
- US conducts a a joint military exercise with South Korea.
- Trump’s National Security Adviser, John Bolton, angered the North Koreans by suggesting that Mr. Kim could follow the 2003 Libyan disarmament model.
- Despite the setback, hopes for an eventual one-to-one meeting still exist. North Korea said US to reconsider their decision to unilaterally cancel the summit.
- Both leaders should address the crisis with diplomacy. They work in collaboration for the de-escalation of tension, if not outright denuclearisation, on the peninsula and work to reschedule the summit.
Want to settle all issues in a friendly ambience: Hasina
- PM Narendra Modi and Bangladesh PM Ms. Hasina participated in convocation of Visva Bharati University in Santiniketan university and the inauguration of the Bangladesh Bhavana.
- Both the leaders spoke about the contribution of Rabindranth Tagore and how the poet is a shared cultural icon between the two countries.
- Hasina announced setting up of two new universities named after Rabindranath Tagore, one at Shahajpur and the other at Kustia, both the places where the Tagore family managed large zamindari estates.
- Just as the Government of Bangladesh has constructed Bangladesh Bhawan at Visva Bharati, the Government of India has taken up the task of renovating Kuthi Bari in Kustia district of Bangladesh.
- The Prime Minister of Bangladesh remember India’s support in its liberation war of 1971 and then in 1975 when her father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rehman and other members of her family were assassinated. Some important excerpts from her speech are
- The land boundary agreement which settled the enclave issue was a rare example of border issues between two countries having been sorted out “amicably.”
- There are still various pending issues between India and Bangladesh, which must be settle in a friendly ambience.
- Hasina also urged for “cooperation from all to put pressure” on the government of Myanmar so that over one million Rohingya, who had taken shelter in Bangladesh, could return to their country.
- Modi said the relations between the two countries were born out of “shared struggles of the past” and both were facing common problems like climate change. Underlining the importance of “mutual cooperation,” he said both countries “can learn from each other in areas of public policy and culture.”
- Modi emphasize on increased cooperation in areas like connectivity, space connectivity and power.
Tipping point in West Asia
- Rakesh Sood, a former diplomat, has analyses the reasons for US withdrawal from JCPOA and its impact on west Asia.
- After Arab Spring, longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict is over shadowed by a series of events, both Internal and External.
- The fight against the Islamic State and its offshoots which was began with Iraq;
- The Syrian conflict which pulled the U.S., Russia, Iran and Turkey into it;
- Renewed tension between Israel and Iran across the Golan Heights;
- The civil war in Yemen where the involvement of Saudi Arabia and Iran has heightened tensions, exposing old regional fault lines; and
- Recently, US withdrawal from Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran.
- After the US withdrawal from deal, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif visited Beijing, Moscow and Brussels to salvage the deal.
- In an address to Iranian officials, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said he expected the E-3 (France, UK and Germany), Russia and China to take up the matter in the UN Security Council
- He advised E-3 to stop criticism of Iran’s missile tests and regional behaviour and ensure concrete economic guarantees.
- A summit at sofia is held where EU leaders directed
- European Commission to activate the Blocking Statute which forbids European companies from complying with the extra-territorial effects of U.S. sanctions.
- European Investment Bank to set up a special purpose vehicle to protect European companies’ investments in Iran.
7.However, the signs are not promising as large European companies cannot afford U.S. sanctions;
- Total and Airbus are already pulling out of their multibillion dollar deals.
- In 1996, US legislation imposes similar extra-territorial sanctions on companies engaging with Cuba. Then EU took off the assets of U.S. companies in Europe, equivalent to the penalties imposed on European companies. Eventually, the stand-off was resolved by introducing a waiver.
- The difference is that in 1996, the Clinton administration was sympathetic to the EU stand but in 2018, the Trump administration is prepared to be tougher.
- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s unveiled a number of conditions for Iran to fulfill for any further scope for dialogue and diplomacy
- A permanent end to uranium enrichment,
- Unfettered access for the inspectors,
- End to missile proliferation,
- Ending support to Hezbollah, Hamas, Houthi rebels (Yemen), Shia militias (Iraq) and Taliban and
- Complete withdrawal from Syria.
- European countries also wanted to curb Iran’s missile proliferation and testing and extend nuclear enrichment restrictions beyond the 15-year timeframe set by the JCPOA.
- But the US wanted to scrap the present JCPOA and push Iran to negotiate a new deal under pressure of stronger sanctions while EU wanted to preserve the JCPOA and build upon it.
- Reason for Signing of JCPOA by Obama Administration
- Post-Arab Spring, Barack Obama felt that the U.S.’s West Asia policy of dual containment (of Iran and Iraq) served Israeli and Saudi interests but restricted American options in the region.
- It was assumed that sanctions relief would strengthen the moderate elements in Iran represented by President Hassan Rouhani, and consequently increasing U.S. diplomatic options.
- Also Obama administration had realized that Iran had successfully accelerated its uranium enrichment programme after the slowdown caused by the Stuxnet attack in 2009.
- US became cautious for any war and regime change after the experience of Libiya, Iraq and Afghanistan.
14 Current accusation against Iran is similar to August 2002 when US made the case for a pre-emptive strike against Iraq. In March the following year, the U.S. invaded Iraq. US said that
- Saddam Hussein was a leading sponsor of terrorism,
- He was involved in nuclear programme,
- He had oppressed his people who deserved a life of dignity and freedom and
- He was behaving like bully seeking regional domination.
- Saudi Arabia and Israel had applauded US decision to invade Iraq in 2002. They also welcome current decision of US to dismantle the JCPOA. Reasons are
- Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has been engaged in a costly adventure in Yemen heightening tensions with Iran.
- In Syria, Iran has built up its presence by bringing in Shia militias and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps advisers to support the Syrian army, leading to growing tensions with Israel.
- Iran does not want to be accused of killing the JCPOA. It would be difficult for US to justify going to war with Iran when it is in full compliance with JCPOA.
Out-of-turn coal to PSE utilities irks IPPs
- The Centre decision to supply coal out-of-turn to State and PSU utilities is being objected by independent power producers (IPPs)
- ln order to avoid possible shortage of coal at state owned thermal power plants the central government has directed the Coal India to provide out-of-turn coal allotment to State and central PSU utilities.
- This move has irked independent power producers (IPPs) which are already under stress on account of high levels of debt and less than optimum plant load factors. State-owned NTPC currently operates at a plant load factor (PLF) of more than 70%, IPPs are averaging about 55% PLF.
- The demand for coal supply coincided summer when demand for power Increases.
- Shortage of coal supply to IPP raised number of concerns
- Discrimination based on ownership of assets puts into question the sanctity of commercial contracts signed by Coal India Limited.
- This would lead to more stress for the bankers.
- This is against the principle of ease of doing business.
- Association of Power Producers (APP) has demanded level playing field for both Public and Private sector.
- APP demanded that prioritization should be on the basis of efficiency rather than on contractual obligations. This helps to produce more power on same quantity of coal.
PVC pipes: Supreme Court refuses to interfere with NGT fiat
- The Supreme Court has refused to intervene with the National Green Tribunal order to freeze its own directive to publish a warning about hazardous lead content in Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) pipes.
- Current petition contended that the publishing of the warning would safeguard the people from the adverse health effects of lead-contaminated water.
- Earlier, Jan Sahyog Manch, an NGO had raised the concern for ecological damage caused by lead in the manufacture of PVC pipes and seeks for its remedy by National Green Tribunal.
- On May 25 last year, NGT asked the Ministry of Environment and Forests to lay down standards for the use of lead in PVC pipes. The measure was to be implemented in consultation with the Indian Bureau of Standards.
- The tribunal intervened after learning that lead content in water pipes, used in buildings, contained toxic materials.
- The NGT, however, decided to keep in abeyance its May 25 order after plastic manufacturing units said they were not heard.
CoC is not proactive enough
- The Chairman of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board (IBB) of India has observed that the Committee of Creditors (CoC) has not been efficient in implementing the provisions of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.
- The Committee of Creditors comprises of both financial and operational creditors.
- The main function of Committee of Creditors (CoC) to create a resolution plan within the stipulated time frame, in order to revive the corporate debtor.
- For this purpose, IBC provides that such a plan must have the approval of at least 75% of the creditors. Failure to approve resolution plans leads to initiation of liquidation proceedings.
- FICCI president discussed the consequences of 75% approval clause. According to him, a lot of good plans get rejected because small creditors could hold up the whole process.
- The unintended consequence was that a lot of good plans were getting rejected because small creditors could hold up the whole process.
- He suggested that the threshold of rejection of a plan should be much lower- about 51%