Nuclear weapons ban treaty talks—major powers to be absent
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley had said the United States, Britain and France would be among almost 40 countries that would not join talks on a nuclear weapons ban treaty starting at the United Nations. Haley told reporters the countries skipping the negotiations were instead committed to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which entered into force in 1970 and was aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology. The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution in December — 113 in favour to 35 against, with 13 abstentions — that decided to “negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination” and encouraged all member states to participate. “You are going to see almost 40 countries that are not in the General Assembly today,” Haley said. “In this day and time we can’t honestly that say we can protect our people by allowing the bad actors to have them and those of us that are good, trying to keep peace and safety, not to have them.” The Trump administration was reviewing whether it would reaffirm the goal of a world without nuclear weapons, a White House aide said last week, referring to an aim embraced by previous Republican and Democratic presidents and required by a key arms control treaty. Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said in a statement: “It is disappointing to see some countries with strong humanitarian records standing with a government which threatens a new arms race.” More than 100 countries were set to launch the first UN talks on a global nuclear weapons ban over objections from the major nuclear powers. Even with the major nuclear powers boycotting the debate, a treaty would oblige them to revisit their policies sooner or later — even if, like Russia and the United States, they were currently modernising their nuclear weapons arsenal. “Even if major (nuclear weapon) producers don’t sign it, they have a big impact,” Fihn said of global treaties. “Look at Russia denying using cluster bombs in Syria. Why? They did not sign (the cluster munition ban), but they know it’s bad.”
Northern Ireland’s parties continue sqabbling
A report from Belfast said that Northern Ireland's parties had abandoned talks to form a power-sharing government before the deadline to resolve their bitter political differences. The main two parties in the British province said no deal would be reached by the deadline following a snap election triggered by the bad blood between them. James Brokenshire, Britain's Northern Ireland Minister, had to decide what to do next, with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Fein unable to work together. He had three options: set a new talks deadline, call a fresh election, or suspend devolution and return administration of the province fully to the UK government. "The talks have failed," said DUP leader Arlene Foster, who was first minister in the outgoing government. "We were willing to form an executive today but Sinn Fein have walked away.”
U.S. likely to boost aid to allies in Yemen
The United States was considering deepening its role in Yemen's conflict by more directly aiding its Gulf allies battling Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, according to officials thereby potentially relaxing a U.S. policy that limited American support. The review of potential new U.S. assistance, which would include intelligence support, would come amid increasing evidence that Iran was sending advanced weapons and military advisers to the Houthi movement. Any elevation in U.S. support could be seen as a sign that President Donald Trump's administration had made confronting Iran and its allies an early priority. For the moment, however, any increase in direct U.S. assistance might be restricted to non-lethal measures and there was no sign the United States was considering waging strikes on Houthi targets. Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, increasingly sought to limit U.S. ties to the civil war in Yemen and his administration became unnerved by civilian casualties caused by the Saudi-led coalition. "The U.S. should not escalate our military involvement in a civil war in Yemen halfway around the world without any explanation by the president of what we are doing there and what is our strategy," said Representative Ted Lieu, a Democrat from California and a longtime advocate in Congress for a suspension of U.S. cooperation with the Saudi-led coalition. One of the officials said the United States was examining offering the United Arab Emirates U.S. intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets and information sharing.
Bahrain says Iran linked terrorist cell broken up
Bahrain said on Sunday it had broken an Iranian-linked "terrorist cell" suspected of involvement in a bomb attack on a police bus in February and plotting to assassinate senior officials. The state news agency quoted an Interior Ministry statement as saying that the 14-member cell was working under direct supervision from two exiled Bahrainis living in Iran, one of them recently designated by the United States as a "global terrorist". Tensions had been rising in the kingdom since last year after authorities stepped up a crackdown on dissent, banning the main opposition group al-Wefaq, arresting a leading activist and critic of the government and revoking the citizenship of the spiritual leader of the country's majority Shi'ites. BNA said that six of the arrestees received military training in camps under Iranian Revolutionary Guard supervision, five had been trained by the Iraqi Hezbollah group and three received training in Bahrain. The statement said the cell was being financed and directed from Iran by Qassim Abdullah Ali and Mortada Majid Al-Sanadi. The U.S. State Department in March labelled Sanadi and another Bahraini identified as Ahmad Hasan Yusuf as "Specially Designated Global Terrorists".