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New Era Newspaper Wednesday February 7, 2018

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18 WORLD

18 WORLD Wednesday, February 7 2018 | NEW ERA WASHINGTON The United States and Russia are pledging to abide by a treaty limiting strategic nuclear weapons that took effect on Monday, but foreign leaders and experts fear a new arms race may be looming. with nuclear-armed North Korea is also growing following a series of bellicose statements between Washington and Pyongyang. The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) signed in 2010 requires the United States and Russia to have reduced the number of their deployed nuclear warheads to 1,550 each by February 5, 2018. The State Department said Monday the United States has lived up to the deal and it has “no reason to believe” Russia has done otherwise. Russia for its part said it was committed to the treaty and would provide Washington with data on its strategic nuclear arsenal in “the near future.” The New START treaty calls for inspections and for the world’s two leading nuclear powers to exchange data on their arsenals to verify compliance. The treaty signed by president Barack Obama was aimed at ushering in a new era in US-Russian relations and promoting the goal of doing away with nuclear arms. But those twin objectives appear distant and President Donald Trump has little room for maneuver with Moscow as he grapples with allegations his campaign may have colluded with the Kremlin to get him elected. The New START treaty, the State Department said, is “critically Fears of nuclear arms race despite US, Russian pledges Tensions… There are fears of a nuclear arms race despite US, Russian pledges. important at a time when trust in the relationship has deteriorated and the threat of miscalculation and misperception has risen.” Mistrust of Russian intentions was reflected on Friday in a Nuclear Posture Review released by the Pentagon that called for a revamp of the US nuclear arsenal and development of new low-yield atomic weapons. While the document underscored the administration’s concerns about North Korea, Iran and China, the focus fell largely on Russia. “This is a response to Russian expansion of their capability and the nature of their strategy and doctrine,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wrote. Moscow denounced what it called the “bellicose” and “anti- Russian” nature of the new US nuclear policy, warning that it would take the necessary measures to ensure its own security. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned of the dangers for Europe of a “renewed nuclear arms race.” “Signs that Russia is re-arming, not only conventionally but with nuclear weapons, are obvious,” Gabriel said. “We in Europe must begin new initiatives for arms control and disarmament.” But instead of developing new weapons, Germany’s top diplomat called for “existing arms control treaties to be upheld unconditionally.” Rachel Bronson, CEO and president of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said the Nuclear Posture Review “is a spruced-up Cold War document, responding in dated ways to current threats.” Among the greatest of the current threats is that of North Korea, and the standoff between Washington and Pyongyang has many uneasy. “If you believe that nuclear weapons deter and bring peace and stability, then we should welcome North Korea,” Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said mockingly. “There are no acceptable nuclear weapons to use,” Fihn, whose organization won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, told AFP. “Any use will trigger a nuclear humanitarian consequences for civilians.” Alicia Sanders-Zakre of the Arms Control Association said she was worried by “a president who repeatedly boasts about the size of his nuclear button on Twitter” and his “loose talk about nuclear weapons.” The White House last week dropped its nominee to be ambassador to South Korea, Victor Cha, after he publicly criticized a potential preemptive strike on North Korea. Eighteen Democratic senators also came out against what has been called a “bloody nose” strike against North Korea. “We are deeply concerned about the potential consequences of a preemptive military strike on North Korea and the risks of miscalculation and retaliation,” they said in a letter. The senators noted that in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last week, expert witnesses found that “such a ‘bloody nose’ strategy carried extreme risks.” – Nampa/AFP NIGERIA HIGH COMMISSION WINDHOEK INVITATION TO BID The High Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Windhoek wishes to invite bids requirements below. Bid No: NHCW/OR – 10/2018 Description: Renovations, Repairs and minor new works at properties of the High Commission. Eligibility Requirements: To be eligible for consideration, Firm(s) must present the following: At least two client’s references required. Bid Ref. number as well as bidders name in a sealed envelope, and addressed to the Head Gen. Murtala Mohammed Avenue Eros, P.O. th , 2018. MAZAR-I-SHARIF Afghanistan’s “King in the North” lolls in an armchair under the portrait of President Ashraf Ghani, the man who sacked him last year -- and who he may now challenge for the country’s top job. Atta Mohammad Noor is refusing to give up the governorship of the northern province of Balkh. Instead, he is using the political crisis to show off his strength, turning him into one of Afghanistan’s most famous politicians. The dispute comes at a bad time for Ghani’s US-backed government, which is facing growing public fury over recent deadly attacks in Kabul and elsewhere in the wartorn country that have laid bare its inability to protect civilians. “They think I am a big challenge for the 2019 elections,” Noor told AFP in the lavishly compound that has been his since 2004. “I am very honest and that’s why people trust me. This is a very big concern for my political rivals. That is why they tried to isolate me, to decrease my popularity among the people, but it went the other way.” The decision to oust the bearded strongman Ghani, who has been criticised for his poor timing and clumsy handling of the issue. Instead of weakening a rival ahead of the presidential election, Ghani has thrust the more charismatic Noor onto the national stage where he has been capitalising on his newfound fame. Meanwhile, the new governor Mohammad Daud has been forced to work in Kabul, while his predecessor district chiefs as if to signal his authority. In daily back-to-back meetings and televised rallies, Noor has been rubbing shoulders with representatives of various ethnic groups and political parties from across the country. The gruelling schedule, which Noor’s aides say often lasts until the early hours of the morning, underscores the to broaden his appeal in a country where ethnic divisions run deep. “I’m very happy that I’ve done good things and people love me but these meetings also need a lot of patience,” admitted Noor, who cuts a dash in a black shalwar kameez and matching leather boots. For weeks, negotiators for Ghani and Noor’s Tajik-dominated Jamiat-e-Islami which has its roots in the hotly contested 2014 presidential election results. Ghani, who belongs to the country’s largest Pashtun ethnic group, took the presidency in a US-brokered power-sharing deal with his rival, Jamiat-backed Abdullah Abdullah, who was named chief executive. Jamiat has accused Ghani of failing has submitted demands to the president’s negotiators, including giving parties a bigger representation in parliament, something that But as the talks drag on there are growing fears the crisis could turn violent, sparking calls from the White House and others for a peaceful resolution. “If Ghani accepts (the demands) then of course we will end the dispute,” said Noor, adding he would be prepared to step down. “If he doesn’t accept then we will... change our current soft behaviour.” In war-torn Afghanistan where security forces are struggling to beat back insurgents, Balkh stands out for its relative peace and prosperity. Locals told AFP that Noor was the reason for their good fortune -- an achievement that may make corruption allegations against him easier to overlook in a country where many politicians are seen as both dishonest and incompetent. “He has constructed a lot and the security is good,” Abdul Khalil said as he sat beside a wooden trailer stacked with mandarins in Mazar-i-Sharif, where there are few blast walls and security forces in the streets. “Everyone is very happy with him.” Taxi driver Mohammad Hashem effusively described Noor as the “perfect” governor, as he drove past billboards plastered with Noor’s portrait. Some question whether the growing support for Noor, said to be one of the richest men in Afghanistan, is genuine or an opportunistic move by people hoping for a slice of his largesse. But even if his popularity is real, many wonder if it would be possible for a non- Pashtun to win the presidency in a country where political loyalties often run along ethnic lines. “His growing network of anti- Ghani friends across the country contains a lot of strong, proud Pashtuns who would never endorse a non-Pashtun presidential But Noor, who said he would only run for the presidency if Jamiat backed him, is his Tajik roots. “The majority of Afghans look at who can serve better, provide services and maintain security,” said Noor. “The people of Afghanistan will vote for that, not for ethnicity.” – Nampa/AFP

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