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If you strike US first, we won’t protect you

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China warned North Korea on Friday that if they conduct a missile strike against the US, Beijing will not come to their aid after the inevitable retaliation.

Beijing has consistently called for dialogue to resolve the growing tension on the Korean Peninsula. However, the state-owned Global Times newspaper published an editorial warning both Pyongyang and Washington that, “when their actions jeopardize China’s interests, China will respond with a firm hand.”

The article also clarified that “if North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral.” On the other hand, “[i]f the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.

China’s statement caps off a week that has seen North Korea and the US exchanging barbs in a war of words that has escalated to threats. US President Donald Trump responded to the North’s ongoing ballistic missile tests on Tuesday by threatening “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

Following Trump’s comments, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned that Pyongyang should not engage in “actions that would lead to the end of its regime and destruction of its people,” as the Pentagon has readied plans for B-1B strategic bombers to launch preemptive strikes at the North’s missile sites.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) responded by announcing that by mid-August it would complete a plan to launch a strike against Guam, a US territory.

Trump doubled down on his rhetoric Friday morning, writing on Twitter that “Military solutions are now fully in place,locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully [Kim Jong-un] will find another path!

Guam is confident that it could survive such an attack: its Homeland Security adviser noted this week that the island’s missile defense systems would protect Guam from the North’s projectiles. The Global Times asserted that China will “firmly resist any side which wants to change the status quo of the areas where China’s interests are concerned. The Korean Peninsula is where the strategic interests of all sides converge, and no side should try to be the absolute dominator of the region.”

Though China signed the Sino-North Korean Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance of 1961, pledging to intervene if North Korea is subject to unprovoked provocation, that does not extend to situations in which Pyongyang instigates a conflict.

Law professor Tong Zhiwei from Shanghai’s East China University of Political Science and Law wrote in a May article for the Financial Times that terminating the agreement should be a near-future goal for Beijing because “it has also been used by the North Korean authorities to protect their international wrongful acts from punishment.”

In July, North Korea conducted two intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests, claiming that the projectiles are capable of capable of carrying nuclear weapons and can reach the US mainland. A recent report reveals that US and Japanese intelligence agencies roughly agree with that assessment.

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Israel Will Never Allow Iran’s Bases in Syria

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The Israeli Prime minister met with the Russian defense minister to discuss the situation in Syria, as well as the Iran nuclear deal in light of the US decision not to certify the agreement. Israel would not allow Iran’s permanent military presence in Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said during talks with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, adding that Tehran “must understand this.”

Commenting on the agenda of his meeting with Shoigu, the Israeli prime minister said that the talks were dedicated to “above all, Iran’s attempts to establish military bases in Syria.”

Netanyahu earlier stated Israel “will act to prevent Iran from establishing permanent military bases in Syria for its air, sea and ground forces.”
The Russian Defense Ministry is yet to comment on Israel’s concerns over Iran’s actions in Syria. Commeting on the negotiations, the Russian deputy defense minister has said that Shoigu and Netanyahu had “expressed confidence that the meetings held on the Israeli soil will give an additional impetus to the development of Russian-Israeli cooperation.”

Israel has been long opposing Iran’s and Lebanon-based Hezbollah’s presence in Syria. Iran has been providing support to the Syrian government in its fight against various terrorist groups, including Daesh, and acts alongside Russia and Turkey as one of the guarantor states of the ceasefire in Syria. Tehran has repeatedly refuted media reports claiming that its military had conducted independent operations in Syria.

During his September meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of building sites in Syria and Lebanon to produce missiles allegedly aiming to eradicate Israel. When asked to comment on the statement, the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow has “no information that someone is preparing an attack on Israel.”

Iran Nuclear Deal

The Israeli prime minister and the Russian defense minister have also discussed the US president’s decision not to certify the Iran nuclear deal. Netanyahu has reiterated Tel Aviv’s stance, warning of Iran potentially acquiring nuclear weapons if the deal isn’t changed. During his UNGA speech in September, Netanyahu has again addressed the threat Israel believes Iran poses to its security. According to him, the nuclear deal with Iran must be changed or canceled entirely.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly voiced support for Israel’s stance on the nuclear agreement, calling it a “bad deal for Israel.”

On October 16, Trump suggested that Washington might unilaterally exit the agreement despite Rex Tillerson’s earlier comments, saying that the United States will try to negotiate the agreement, which is, according to him, in the best interests of his country.

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Iran Pledges to Confront Israel After Attack on Syrian Air Defense

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Iran’s Military Chief has warned Israel against violating Syrian airspace in the wake of this week’s attack of Israeli Air Force on an anti-aircraft battery in Syria.

“It’s not acceptable for the Zionist regime to violate the land and airspace of Syria anytime it wants,” Baqeri said during a news conference with his Syrian counterpart Ali Abdullah Ayoub in Damascus on Wednesday, and promised to increase cooperation with the Syrian military “to confront our common enemies, the Zionists and terrorists”.

The sides established the board lines for this cooperation.

The comments of the Iran’s Chief of Staff come in the follow up to the attack of the Israeli Air Force on an anti-aircraft battery in Syria, which had allegedly shelled at Israeli warplanes as they were conducting a reconnaissance mission at the Syria-Lebanon border.

The Syrian Army however said the Israeli aircraft violated Syria’s airspace near the border with Lebanon in the early hours of Monday and therefore had been attacked by its defense systems.

Israeli Air Forces earlier said that its jets have struck Hezbollah and Syrian military facilities and convoys nearly 100 times during the six-year-long war, with the goal of preventing the transfer of weapons from Iran to the Lebanon-based Hezbollah group.

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