Top Left Link Buttons
  • English
  • German

Global Diplomacy

Category Archives

Railway Service in Europe Seriously Disrupted by Floods

July 22, 2021 (EIRNS)–The Trains.com website comments that portions of the rail network in Western Europe could be out of service for months or years in the wake of flooding that has left hundreds dead across a swath of western Germany and Belgium. Rail service has been suspended after the floods, which saw rivers running three yards higher than previous records in some cases and destroyed homes and businesses. See report here.

In Belgium, most rail lines south of Brussels saw disruption, with many in the hilly Ardennes region seriously damaged. The high-speed rail line connecting Brussels with Cologne in Germany was briefly closed, but as this goes through hills and over valleys, it was not seriously damaged. Services restarted over the weekend. The older rail lines that follow river valleys, often no more than a few yards above the river, fared much less well. Several routes are so badly damaged that reconstruction is expected to take until late August; less damaged routes reopened July 19.

In neighboring Germany, where the scale of destruction and loss of life has been greater, some rail lines, again built following river valleys, have been completely washed out. In total, German national railroad Deutsche Bahn has reported that 600 kilometers (more than 370 miles) of tracks and 80 stations are impassable.

The worst affected route along the valley of the Ahr River from Remagen to Ahrbrück has seen around 12.5 miles of its 18-mile length destroyed by flood water, with all seven bridges destroyed where the line crossed from one side of the river to the other.

In the Ruhr region, the main station in the city of Hagen was flooded and closed, along with rail lines through the city, as were those in the nearby city of Wuppertal. The flood waters knocked out power and telecom services in many areas. In the city of Bonn, the electronic signalling center controlling the main rail lines along the Rhine valley was unable to function, due to flood damage. Countries neighboring Germany have also seen flooding, with the south of the Netherlands hit with large-scale disruption to rail and road travel. As the weather system moved on, flood waters have affected Switzerland and by last weekend the rain had moved east to Bavaria in Germany and the neighboring Czech Republic, with the rail line between Dresden and Prague shut down July 18 as the Elbe River burst its banks. The Elbe alley was the scene of massive flooding in August 2002, which closed the rail line for three months.


Egypt Prioritizes Nuclear in Future Energy Mix

July 22, 2021 (EIRNS)–Hesham Hegazy, head of the nuclear fuel sector at Egypt’s Nuclear Power Plants Authority NPPA, has recently revealed that the Egyptian nuclear program is not limited to the construction of the Dabaa nuclear power plant, as the country seeks to build more nuclear power plants on the north coast, Al-Monitor reports.

Jamal al-Qalyubi, a professor of petroleum and energy engineering at the American University of Cairo, told Al-Monitor that the Egyptian state has been working since 2015 on a strategy to diversify its energy sources to address future challenges. He said that since the 1960s, Egypt has been heavily reliant on nonrenewable energy sources from hydrocarbons, such as petroleum, diesel and, more recently, natural gas. But the country is now looking to replace the plants that produce electricity via hydrocarbons with ones that rely on so-called renewable energy, in the framework of the Sustainable Development Strategy of Egypt Vision 2030, he said.

Qalyubi noted that nuclear energy is essential for Egypt, and that the state is seeking to have an educational and applied influence in this regard instead of only importing foreign technology. He added that nuclear reactors are beneficial not only in terms of power generation but also in terms of seawater desalination and the production of radioactive isotopes, which ultimately benefit Egypt’s industry.

He expects more Egyptian companies to contribute 20% to the construction of the new nuclear stations; local companies have already contributed 20% to the construction of the first unit of the Dabaa nuclear plant. These companies have managed to participate in the Dabaa project as they received training at the Dabaa Nuclear School in Matrouh governorate (west of Cairo), while educational missions are being sent to Russia, Qalyubi said, adding that such steps help promote Egypt’s local nuclear industry.

Former NPPA deputy head Ali Abdel Nabi told Al-Monitor over the phone, “The Egyptian government’s energy mix plan seeks to have the nuclear plants’ electricity generation to account for about 20% of the total production in Egypt by 2035.” He said, “Reaching this percentage requires the establishment of more nuclear plants, in addition to the Dabaa plant, which only produces 4,800 MW, or nearly 3% of the total electricity production.”

Abdel Nabi explained that one of the goals behind the establishment of nuclear plants in Egypt is the transfer and localization of the manufacturing technology into Egyptian factories, increasing their contribution to the manufacture of new plants to more than 50%.

“Nuclear plants provide electricity in much greater proportion than plants powered by gas or renewable energy such as wind, as these plants operate at 93% of the number of hours per year, compared to 27% for renewable energy plants and 56% for gas plants. In other words, nuclear plants serve the sustainable development goals better,” he noted.

Abdel Nabi pointed out that nuclear power plants are first-class investment projects, as they cover their costs within only 15 years of operation, and that their life span ranges from 60 to 100 years, which ensures greater benefit, unlike plants powered by gas, petroleum, and renewable energy, which operate for 25 years at most.


Amb. Antonov on U.S. Media Fake News about Russian Foreign Policy

Ambassador Antonov on U.S. Media Fake News about Russian Foreign Policy 

July 21 (EIRNS) – In an interview with RT’s Rich Sanchez yesterday, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov commented on his dismay at all the fake news in the U.S. media on Russian foreign policy. The entire interview is here.

Sanchez opened discussing Merkel and Biden’s decision to drop any opposition to Nord Stream 2, and then asked Antonov if he thought Biden’s insistence that Nord Stream 2 is “geopolitical” stemmed from his need to “save face” with respect to U.S. relations to Ukraine.

“I don’t understand what you are talking about. What kind of political interest United States administration has in Ukraine? Ukraine is too far.”  He went on. “I discussed this issue with many politicians and sometimes, frankly, I’m not kidding… but some of them don’t know where Ukraine is!  So I don’t understand why it’s so important for United States. It seems to me that some political figures, some politicians just only would like to use Ukraine as a tool to press on Russia, to change Russian independent foreign policy, or Russian economic policy. Or, as you, the United States call it, as ‘malign activities’ of Russian Federation on the international scene.”

Sanchez asked him about what Americans hear from the media, that Russia has expansionist ambitions, seizing Crimea, wanting to take over Ukraine, and what he thought about that?

Antonov replied:  “You have touched a very interesting issue. Every morning when I wake up, I open American newspapers, and I switch on my TV…. And sometimes I am shocked to get so much fake news, fake information about the Russian foreign policy,” he replied. “What I see today, we see a lack of confidence, a lack of trust between the United States and Russia. I am trying to find a day when Russia has become an enemy or a rival for the United States, and it’s rather difficult to say when it happened. It seems to me that maybe ten years ago, but not when the Ukrainian crisis started, it goes without saying.”

Sanchez’s last question, “Is there a way to put our relationship back together again?” drew the following reply from Antonov: “We have to fix it, the Russian government and American administration as well. Because, to have good relations between the United States and Russia is in the interests of the United States people, as well as Russian Federation. I could say, we are doomed for cooperation,” he said, and then echoing President Putin’s January 2020 call for the P5 summit, he went on: “We are the main nuclear states. We are permanent members of [the UN] Security Council. We bear special responsibility for peace. That’s why we have no time to quarrel. We have to fix many problems that we face today. For example, fighting against terrorism, climate change, and … we see what is going on now in Afghanistan after United States’ decision to withdraw their forces from this country.  I understand how much we have to do together.

“I would like to say, if anybody would like to create an island of security somewhere, in the United States, or in Europe, or in another continent, it will be a mistake. We can win together. When we are together, we can solve any issue, any problem that we face today,” Antonov concluded.


State Department Admits Sanctions Would Not Prevent Nord Stream 2

State Department Admits Sanctions Would Not Prevent Nord Stream 2

July 21 (EIRNS) –In comments to the press yesterday, State Department spokesperson Ned Price reiterated President Joe Biden’s recent statement that the United States suspended its sanctions against Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline project because they could hardly prevent the project’s completion. He explained that President Biden couldn’t have been any clearer when he met with Chancellor Merkel last week: “We continue to oppose Nord Stream 2. … We continue to believe it’s a bad deal for Germany, it’s a bad deal for Ukraine, it’s a bad deal for Europe and Europe’s broader energy security goals.” And, “of course in May we imposed sanctions on 19 entities and vessels, and at the same time … we have come to the conclusion … that it was not in our interest to significantly undermine … the relationship we have with our ally, Germany for a pipeline whose construction would continue, nonetheless.”

Price commented on reports by Bloomberg News that the U.S. and Germany were close to reaching an agreement on Nord Stream 2 that will reportedly include a provision that Germany will impose sanctions on Russia should Moscow use the pipeline to pressure Ukraine or engage in other “aggressive” behavior. “The Germans have put forward useful proposals…. That shared goal is ensuring that this pipeline cannot be weaponized against Ukraine, against any other European partner. That is our goal in doing so. I do expect we’ll be able to share more details on this today.”

State Department Counselor Derek Chollet arrived in Ukraine for discussions yesterday, and then headed for Poland which also opposes Nord Stream 2. According to Bloomberg, the draft agreement with Germany would seek to promote investments of as much as $1 billion in a so-called Green Fund to help Ukraine’s transition to cleaner sources of energy. Germany reportedly would commit to an initial $175 million investment in the fund, and would also appoint a special envoy—with $70 million of funding—to support bilateral energy projects with Ukraine.

Meanwhile, in a posting to his website, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) denounced the reports of an administration agreement, growling that, “If the reports and details of a deal are accurate, this will be a generational geopolitical win for Putin and a catastrophe for the United States and our allies. President Biden is defying U.S. law and has utterly surrendered to Putin.”


Lavrov: Developing Central Asia, Afghanistan Opens “New Vistas” for Eurasian Continent; U.S. Participation Needed

July 20, 2021 (EIRNS)—Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov captured the potential world-transforming change which can be brought about, if the nations of the world join together in developing Afghanistan and the Central Asian nations, when he addressed the plenary session of the conference on “Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity, Challenges and Opportunities” in Uzbekistan on July 16.

“The representative nature of this event is vivid proof of the increasing demand for a unification agenda in Eurasia and the rest of the world,” he began, in thanking Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev for organizing the conference. He situated the building of connectivity between Central and South Asia within the greater project of developing the giant continent of Eurasia as one “seamless, united logistical” economic hub of transportation, trade, power, development.

“Russia has been consistently in favor of forming the Greater Eurasian Partnership, a congregative integration contour in the entire space from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, one that is maximally free for the movement of goods, capital, the workforce and services, and open, without exception, to all the countries of our common continent, Eurasia, and the integration unions created there, including the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations,” all organizations which have displayed an interest in this initiative, Lavrov explained.

“Implementing this long-term project will make it possible not only to accelerate the economic development of all participants but also to create a reliable material foundation of common security, stability and prosperity.”

He cited, in particular, the efforts which seek to integrate the EAEU plans and the Belt and Road project and “the North-South International Transport Corridor linking Europe, and the South Caucasus and Central Asia with the Indian Ocean coast, as well as to the Europe-West China transcontinental transport route.”

“In this broad context, higher connectivity between Central and South Asia is opening new vistas for the development of trade, economic and investment processes on the Eurasian continent….”

This will not happen without a comprehensive settlement of the Afghanistan conflict, he argued; “only direct and inclusive intra-Afghan talks with the support of international partners can lead to a lasting peace.” Lavrov named three “tried and tested mechanisms” as key to mobilizing that support: the Shanghai Cooperation Organization-Afghanistan Contact Group, and the two known as the “Moscow format” and the “extended Troika,” the latter formed by the US, Russia, China, and Pakistan working together.

When a reporter at Lavrov’s discussion with the press in Tashkent asked him if he thought the U.S. had deliberately carried out its withdrawal in such a way as to cause trouble in Russia’s “area of geopolitical interests,” Lavrov refused to take the bait. “I do not believe in conspiracy theories. I heard that perhaps this hasty withdrawal was in pursuit of some kind of geopolitical goals. We should not speculate about it.” Russia is “not interested in chaos” in Afghanistan, and “we will continue working with the Americans in the extended Troika format, as well as with all other countries that can influence the situation in Afghanistan,” he answered.


China National Nuclear Has Started Construction of `SMR’

China National Nuclear Has Started Construction of `SMR’ —

July 18 (EIRNS) — China National Nuclear Corporation now has a small modular reactor “in the construction phase” after approval of its design by the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to articles in OilPrice.com and Global Times. The reactor is rated at 125 MW of power. The start of the construction phase is reported by OilPrice.com to have been delayed by four years after originally being scheduled in 2017. There is scant information in either piece as to the mode of construction or location of a factor to build units – the planned first reactor (“Linglong 1”) is perhaps the only unit to be located at the site, which is in Chiangjiang in Hainan Province in the south of China, a center of CNNC nuclear power production.
            But the Global Times article contains an ambitious and accurate description of what fourth-generation small modular reactors will do: “Unlike 3rd-generation large reactors such as the Hualong 1, which has an electric power output of 1 million kilowatts, far greater than the power range of a small reactor, the Linglong 1 can realize the multi purposes of nuclear energy, such as heat supply for cities, industrial steam, seawater desalination, oil exploitation and other different needs, in addition to electricity generating. The energy generated by Linglong 1 can be applied to various scenarios such as industrial parks, islands, mining areas and energy supplied by high-energy consuming enterprises, meeting the development needs of Hainan.


`The Place Where These Rivals Can Work Together’: Afghanistan

`The Place Where These Rivals Can Work Together’: Afghanistan —

July 18 (EIRNS) – An interesting statement by Pakistan’s ambassador to China, Javid Ahmad Qaem, was quoted in Global Times July 17. “The only place,” the Ambassador said, “where the U.S., China and India could really cooperate, and at least there could be a starting point to cooperate between these rivals, if I can call them that, is Afghanistan.”
            The same Global Times article which quoted Qaem made clear that China has proposed the Belt and Road Initiative – the Eurasia-wide infrastructure corridor development plan it initiated in 2013 – as the basis for cooperation in shifting Afghanistan from the theater of endless war and poverty to a nation developing and a contributor to stability. At the July 15-16 conference of 40 nations’ representatives in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on “stability and connectivity” in the region following the NATO withdrawals, “China urges Central and South Asian countries to forge a closer regional connectivity partnership through high-quality cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI),” Global Times reported, not implying U.S. participation. A White House readout July 18 said only that A high-level US delegation led by Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the international conference in Uzbekistan and discussed the evolving security situation in Afghanistan and the US support for the Afghan defense forces.”
            The impression is given by many media accounts (leaving aside those that forecast the Taliban overrunning Kabul this week) that China and Russia are working with the Taliban on new regional security concepts while the United States and India try to meddle. Russia at least is, according to an Asia Times report July 15, preparing to move at the UN for the Taliban to no longer be designated as supporting terrorism, if that movement maintains peaceful relations with the Central Asian Republics and does not support either al-Qaeda or the East Turkistan Independence Movement (ETIM, Uiygur separatist terrorists). The Taliban have proposed friendly relations with China.
            But the Afghan government has also made moves toward economic reconstruction potentials for the region, in anticipation of the NATO troops getting out. In February it agreed with Pakistan and Uzbekistan on a rail corridor from Peshawar, Pakistan to Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan to Tashkent, clearly linking to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and to the main Eurasian Land-Bridge rail corridor. It also discussed with Pakistan a highway in the same corridor but branching to Dushanbe, Tajikistan. And the Ghani government has started a 50 km gravel and asphalt road through the formidable Wakhan Corridor to the 5,000 meter-high Wakhjir Pass; it continued beyond it would be a rugged but short and direct route to China through Xinjiang Province.
            Afghan consultant to Ghani’s office Shokrullah Amiri, writing in Global Times July 18, says that the Afghan and Chinese governments have been consulting since May on the Wakhan  Corridor also becoming part of the Belt and Road Initiative (it was a part of the 12th Century Silk Road). This, said the Asia Times July 15 report, was why the Ghani government began on the road. Amiri has much more to say about the potential development of Afghan minerals and Afghan-China trade as a result.  For more details, go here.


Russian UN Energy Forum in Run-up to Glasgow COP26 – Look to Nuclear, Hydro

July 15, 2021 (EIRNS)–In preparation for the Glasgow UN Climate conference – COP26 (Oct. 31-Nov. 12, 2021), the Mission of the Russian Federation to the UN held a virtual side event, titled, “Low Emissions Solutions in Energy and Beyond: Partnering with Businesses for a Sustainable Recovery.” The event was opened by Russia’s Minister of Economic Development, Maxim Reshetnikov, and included speakers from Russia, China, Japan, Australia, and the UK. The Schiller Institute attended the event, which had 60 participants.

Russia was represented by speakers from the IAEA and from Rosatom, as well as by the Minister of Economic Development. Minister Reshetnikov stated that Russia’s goal is to reduce emissions to less than 70% of Russia’s 1990 emission levels by developing all technologies, especially nuclear and hydropower. He appealed: “Don’t discriminate against any technology,” saying that this must be done in a cost-effective way and one that does not impede economic development.

Speaking as the Deputy Director General, and chief of the Nuclear Energy Dept. of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Dr. Mikhail Chudakov made a series of sharp points addressing the importance of nuclear energy from the vantage point of urgent global energy deficits: 1) globally, 700 million people are still without access to electricity, and demand is growing, 2) nuclear is the most dense form of all energy sources — we need a level playing field for all low-carbon electricity sources, including access to financing, and 3) “Don’t forget about fusion:” Many companies are now investing over $2 billion in fusion research, which will yield a clean and unlimited new source of energy. Dr. Chudakov said that the promotion of nuclear power as a key part of the solution to the emissions question will be the message taken by the IAEA to COP26. Kirill Komarov of Russia’s Rosatom, documented in many dimensions the power of nuclear energy as a friend of the environment. For instance, in measuring Life Cycle Emissions (measured in gCO2eq/ kWh) we see the following: Solar – 48, Hydro – 24, Nuclear – 12, Wind – 11

Chinese Charge d’ Affaires at the China Mission to the UN, Amb. Dai Bing urged a “people-centered approach” to energy policy, which can create a “beautiful ecological environment.” Dame Barbara Woodward OBE, the UK Permanent Representative to the UN — who was apparently added to the program at the last minute — gave an arrogant speech attacking both Russia and the use of coal, demanding that nations adhere to the dictates of the Paris Climate agreement “4 to 5 times faster” — which will be the UK’s demand at COP26 in Glasgow. Corporate representatives from Brazil and Australia promoted biofuels, hydrogen production, wind, and solar panels.

The Schiller Institute’s Paul Gallagher posed this question to the panel of speakers: “Nuclear power plants have the highest power density per area and time of operation and are extremely reliable — but, they take a long time to build relative to other sources. Can this be solved through factory production of modular nuclear power units; how quickly can this become a reality?” Dr. Chudakov responded that Belarus had built a nuclear plant in only six years. So, the process can be expedited. “We need a clear policy of support of nuclear power from governments, governmental credits for infrastructure” so as to advance reactors and reduce construction time. “It’s easy to scale up when you produce the same unit. That’s why SMRs are the future. They need governmental support.” Russia and China are building nuclear plants because there is government support.

Russian scientists have a distinguished history of promoting — on the world stage — the universal use of nuclear power. Physicist, Academician Yevgeny Velikhov, then-head of the prestigious Kurchatov Institute, speaking at the Arctic Energy Summit in Alaska in October, 2007 addressed the vast “energy gap” between world supply and world demand for electricity. Dr. Velikhov was clear, then: sticking with the current dependence on oil, gas, and so forth will not work — there must be nuclear power.


South African Riots Are Major Destabilization of this BRICS Nation

South African Riots Are Major Destabilization of this BRICS Nation

July 14 (EIRNS)—The opposition parties in South Africa are united in blaming (with varying emphases) President Ramaphosa, his government, and the ruling ANC at large, taking no account of the intense undermining of the country by London/Wall Street centered finance—for example, through destroying South Africa’s electric power development. Will no one stand up and tell Ramaphosa that it is his London/Wall Street patrons that are the problem?

As for this immediate destabilization, one interesting voice has been heard. Bantu Holomisa, MP, leader of the minor United Democratic Movement, said on SABC-TV, “We note the curious absence of the police in some areas. There has been radio silence from the top police echelons for two days. They are the ones who usually keep us [meaning, members of Parliament] informed. Are some intelligence people and police behind this?” That is now being investigated, but by whom, and with what end in view? Stay tuned.


Russian Academic Identifies Mackinder Geopolitics as Enemy of Russia and China

Russian Academic Identifies Mackinder Geopolitics as Enemy of Russia and China

July 13, 2021 (EIRNS)—Global Times yesterday published an interview with Alexander Lukin, head of the Department of International Relations at the Higher School of Economics and director of the Center for East Asian and SCO Studies at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. In a brief editorial note at the beginning, GT notes that China and Russia have witnessed stronger ties, especially given the US’s continued pursuit of ideological confrontation in the world. The question to be addressed is, “How will the trilateral relations among China, Russia, and the US develop and shape the world?”

The interview is extensive, covering a wide range of topics within the China-Russia relationship, but particularly notable is the matter of geopolitics, which the GT interviewers introduced by citing Zbigniew Brzezinski’s “The Grand Chessboard,” in which he warned “that potentially, the most dangerous scenario [for the United States] would be a grand coalition of China, Russia, and perhaps Iran, an ‘anti-hegemonic’ coalition united not by ideology but by complementary grievances [toward the United States].”

“This line of thought agrees that basically the main task of American policy in the new Eurasia should be avoiding the emergence of a single power or alliance of powers hostile to American interests that would control the Eurasian space,” Lukin replied. “This idea has a very long history. In the first half of the 20th century, many Western experts, beginning with the founders of geopolitics, Halford Mackinder and Nicholas John Spykman, said that control over Eurasia was very important. If an anti-Western force gains control over Eurasia, it would be very dangerous for the US and Western Europe.”

Lukin argues that after the fall of the Soviet Union, the US became “too proud” of itself and overestimated its influence in the world. “However, the collapse of the Soviet Union did not stop the general tendencies of world history, including in international relations in many countries which contributed to their becoming stronger, like China, India, Brazil, and others,” he said. “Russia also reemerged as a strong power. India and several other countries also became stronger. But American politicians did not want to see this trend. They thought that they could still control the entire world and punish those who did not conform to their position. Their policy of pressure and containment has only stimulated the coordination between Russia and China, and made their strategic partnerships stronger.”

Compared to Kissinger and Brzezinski, says Lukin, American politicians today don’t really know what they are doing. “Trump wanted to improve relations with Russia, but he could not for domestic reasons,” Lukin continued. “Now you see some articles written by influential American experts, who seem to begin to understand that Russian-Chinese rapprochement is a kind of problem for the US. But they still don’t know what to do about it. They are discussing how to break the Russia-China de facto alliance without giving either Russia or China anything. So that’s also not a very smart position, I would say. They are not going to get anything for nothing. I don’t think they can.

“Contrary to what they might believe, they cannot break our strategic partnership, because it’s based on Russia and China’s national interests.” Full interview is here.


Page 1 of 11123...Last