Interoperability (International)

Biden says Iran deal “dead”

The 2015 multinational nuclear agreement from which his predecessor withdrew in 2018 is “dead”, according to U.S. President Joe Biden. His comment in a video of him talking in November with a group of people at an undisclosed location believed to be in California, isn’t being disputed by the White House. “The president's comments are entirely consistent with what we're saying,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said December 20, but hedging his comment by adding that “We do not expect an agreement to occur in the near future.” [node:read-more:link]

Sweden’s NATO membership at stake

Turkey’s request for the extradition of an exiled journalist was rejected today by Sweden’s highest court. Bulent Kenes had been accused of using his position as editor of a Turkish newspaper to support calls for the ouster of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has identified him as one of the expatriates he wants returned if he is to support Sweden’s application for NATO membership. [node:read-more:link]

B.C. man faces long prison term

A British Columbia man and two from the U.S. face mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years after beachcombers in Washington state found duffel banks containing methamphetamines and Fentanyl worth some $7 million. Their grand jury indictment in Seattle was delivered after an extensive investigation by the RCMP and U.S. agencies. [node:read-more:link]

Lockerbie bomber suspect in U.S.

A Libyan accused in the destruction of PanAm Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 is in U.S. custody. All 270 crew and passengers died when the bomb detonated on a polar flight to New York from London. Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi had been in custody in Libya for unrelated crimes when charged by the U.S. two years ago. [node:read-more:link]

Ukraine’s NATO application still stalled

Shortly after Russia invaded in late February, Ukraine announced it had signed an accelerated application to join NATO and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in September that “we are de facto allies.” But there is continued reluctance by a couple of members to agree as well as concern within the alliance about being drawn into a broader conflict. “We recognize and respect Ukraine’s aspirations,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says. “However, our focus now is on providing immediate support as Ukraine defends itself.” [node:read-more:link]

End of “airplane mode” on smartphones?

European Union airlines operating in the European Union can begin proving provide 5G mobile data by next June 30 but it’s unclear how the end of “airplane mode” would be affected. “The sky is no longer a limit when it comes to possibilities offered by super-fast, high-capacity connectivity,” says Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market. [node:read-more:link]

UN unveils record aid budget

The United Nations is asking its member states for a record US$51.5 billion in aid funding for 2023, some 25 per cent more than in 2022. Citing Russia’s war on Ukraine, drought in Africa and flooding in Pakistan, among other things, the UN’s emergency relief coordinator, Martin Griffiths, said today that “humanitarian needs are shockingly high, as this year's extreme events are spilling into 2023.” [node:read-more:link]

Ukraine promised infrastructure help

NATO allies agreed today to assist Ukraine in repairing energy infrastructure heavily damaged by Russian artillery and missile bombardments and Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg decried Russia’s use of winter as “a weapon of war.” Russia has acknowledged targetting infrastructure but denies seeking to harm civilians. NATO foreign ministers wrapped up a two-day summit in Bucharest with a statement that “Russia's . . . persistent and unconscionable attacks on Ukrainian civilian and energy infrastructure, is depriving millions of Ukrainians of basic human services.” [node:read-more:link]

NATO’s Stoltenberg doubles down on Ukraine

When it comes to the prosect of more member states, particularly Ukraine despite Russian opposition, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said today that the alliance’s doors are “always open.” Pointing out that North Macedonia and Montenegro had recently joined, he said before a foreign ministers’ meeting in Bucharest that “we stand by that too on membership for Ukraine.” [node:read-more:link]

B.C. man permanently banned from U.S.

A British Columbia businessman who has visited the U.S. on business trips dozens of times a year without a problem, has been banned for life. Jonathan Houweling says that when he was chosen for a random search earlier this month, U.S. officers found a bottle of cannabidiol oil he had left in his vehicle a couple of years ago and then forgotten about it. While cannabis is legal in neighbouring Washington state, its sale, possession and distribution are illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act. [node:read-more:link]

Sweden planning defence budget hike

Sweden’s draft 2023 budget includes a proposed increase in defence spending to the equivalent of US$8.3 billion from this year’s $7.1 billion, prioritizing cyberdefence, signals intelligence, preparedness and expanded recruitment. Defence Minister Pål Jonson said today that the plan is for defence capability to be “gradually expanded year-on-year going forward” as the country, awaiting approval of NATO membership, moves toward the alliance’s spending targets. [node:read-more:link]

CSIS threat responses outdated

Talking points prepared for CSIS Director David Vigneault warn that the agency has failed to keep up with national security threats because its governing legislation is outdated. Drafted for a September 21 meeting of deputy ministers, the notes said that Canada risks becoming a “weak link” in its international intelligence-sharing chain. [node:read-more:link]

Ukrainian nuclear plant under fire

Parts of the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear station in Ukraine were damaged today by artillery fire and both countries blamed each others’ forces. “As I have said many times before, you're playing with fire,” said Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, called for an immediate ceasefire. [node:read-more:link]

EU agrees on new satellite system

The European Union has agreed to spend €‎6 billion on a satellite network designed to reduce dependence on foreign suppliers for its space and communications systems by 2028. Some €2.4 billion of the cost will be covered by funds diverged from other EU programs with the rest expected to come from the private sector. [node:read-more:link]

Accused Ukrainian cybercriminal extradited

The accused leader of the JabberZeus cybercriminal group that stole tens of millions of dollars from U.S. and European companies reportedly has been arrested in Switzerland. Vyacheslav “Tank” Penchukov, a Ukrainian national on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list for 10 years, is being extradited for trial in the U.S. [node:read-more:link]


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