Today's Headlines and Commentary

Rachel Bercovitz
Thursday, September 7, 2017, 1:24 PM

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi acknowledged yesterday that the U.N. should “make a further response and take necessary measures” to curb North Korea’s nuclear program, Reuters reports. The U.S. has pressed for tougher sanctions on Pyongyang since the regime’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sunday.

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi acknowledged yesterday that the U.N. should “make a further response and take necessary measures” to curb North Korea’s nuclear program, Reuters reports. The U.S. has pressed for tougher sanctions on Pyongyang since the regime’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sunday. While Yi cautioned that “sanctions and pressure are only half of the key,” his statement suggests China’s possible willingness to negotiate with the U.S. on its proposal to increase pressure on the North, which China and Russia have both opposed. A draft U.S. resolution calls for the UN to impose a complete oil embargo on the North, a ban on North Korean exports and the hiring of North Korean workers, and a travel ban and asset freeze of Kim Jong Un. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said Wednesday that she intends to submit the draft resolution to the 15-member Security Council on Monday. South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe endorsed measures to intensify pressure on the North rather than “see[k] dialogue.”

Meanwhile, South Korea completed deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system today, installing the remaining four interceptor missile launchers on a vacant golf course in Seongju, 186 miles southeast of Seoul. The radar and first two launchers of the THAAD battery have been operational since May. At least 38 people were reported injured amid clashes with several hundred South Korean protesters and an estimated 8,000 South Korean police.

Facebook officials reported to congressional investigators yesterday that it had sold ads during the U.S. presidential election campaign to a pro-Kremlin company aiming to influence U.S. voters, the Washington Post reports. Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos confirmed the Post’s account in a blog post published later on Wednesday. Stamos noted that an internal review of company ad sales revealed purchases linked to more than 450 “inauthentic accounts and pages…[that] were affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russia.” Facebook ads sales to the Russian “troll farm” extended from June 2015 to May 2017 and totaled about $100,000. Few ads directly referenced the presidential candidates or the campaign, appearing instead to focus on divisive social and political issues.

Parliamentary debate opened today on Britain’s European Union Withdrawal Bill, Bloomberg reports. The bill calls for all EU laws affecting Britain to be incorporated into the British statute book on the date of Britain’s departure from the EU in late March 2019. Lawmakers have criticized the bill for its so-called “Henry VIII powers” authorizing the government of Prime Minister Theresa May to amend regulations without parliamentary approval. The May government has countered that the provision enables swift modification of EU laws to fit British circumstances, guaranteeing that the laws remain in effect following Brexit, and assured that any changes will be largely technical. A vote on the bill is scheduled for Monday, September 11.

The New York Times reports that Donald Trump, Jr. is scheduled to meet today with Senate Judiciary Committee investigators regarding his June 2016 meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who was believed to hold compromising information about Hillary Clinton. The committee staff is also expected to question Trump Jr. about the Trump Organization’s financial dealings with the Russians and President Donald Trump’s decision to dismiss former FBI Director James Comey. Ranking minority member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) stated yesterday that Trump Jr. had also committed to testifying at a public hearing before the committee.

The U.S. Treasury Department yesterday imposed sanctions on three South Sudanese officials close to President Salva Kiir, reported the Post. The Treasury Department cited the leaders’ enrichment from the civil war and their failure to work toward renewing a 2015 peace agreement or to uphold terms of a cease-fire. The sanctions come after Kiir’s meeting last week with USAID senior administrator Mark Green, who indicated to Kiir that the U.S. was reevaluating its support for the leader. Kiir has held office since the country gained independence in 2011. That sanctions were announced shortly after the meeting suggests that Kiir could have forestalled the measures had he demonstrated a commitment toward addressing the deteriorating conditions in South Sudan.

U.N. officials expect that as many as 300,000 Rohingya Muslims may flee northwestern Myanmar in the coming months as clashes with Myanmar’s security forces continue, Reuters reports. An estimated 123,000 Rohingya have fled to the Bangladeshi border region since the latest onset of violence on August 25. The rapid stream of refugees has strained Bangladeshi and U.N. resources, with the U.N. World Food Program signaling an immediate need for donor funding over the next four months.

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Robert Chesney and Steve Vladeck posted the latest episode of the National Security Law Podcast, discussing the reported decline in FBI arrests of Islamic State supporters in the U.S.; the state of pre-trial proceedings in the 9/11 military commissions case; and legal issues surrounding the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA.

J. Dana Stuster interviewed Grant Rumley and Amir Tibon, authors of The Last Palestinian: The Rise and Reign of Mahmoud Abbas.

Robert Litt offered his thoughts on Timothy Edgar’s new book, “Beyond Snowden.”

In another response to Edgar’s new book, Siobhan Gorman reviewed the badly broken oversight system for U.S. surveillance programs.

George Perkovich reviewed Arundhati Roy’s new novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.

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Rachel Bercovitz holds a J.D. from Columbia Law School. She previously served as an editor for the quarterly Journal of Democracy. She holds a B.A. in History from Columbia College.

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