Thursday, July 4, 2013




Remarks by President Obama and President Medvedev of Russia at New START Treaty Signing Ceremony and Press Conference

Prague Castle
Prague, Czech Republic
12:37 P.M. CEST
PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good afternoon, everyone.  I am honored to be back here in the Czech Republic with President Medvedev and our Czech hosts to mark this historic completion of the New START treaty.

Let me begin by saying how happy I am to be back in the beautiful city of Prague.  The Czech Republic, of course, is a close friend and ally of the United States, and I have great admiration and affection for the Czech people.  Their bonds with the American people are deep and enduring, and Czechs have made great contributions to the United States over many decades -- including in my hometown of Chicago.  I want to thank the President and all those involved in helping to host this extraordinary event.

I want to thank my friend and partner, Dmitry Medvedev.  Without his personal efforts and strong leadership, we would not be here today.  We’ve met and spoken by phone many times throughout the negotiations of this treaty, and as a consequence we’ve developed a very effective working relationship built on candor, cooperation, and mutual respect.

One year ago this week, I came here to Prague and gave a speech outlining America’s comprehensive commitment to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and seeking the ultimate goal of a world without them.  I said then -- and I will repeat now -- that this is a long-term goal, one that may not even be achieved in my lifetime.  But I believed then -- as I do now -- that the pursuit of that goal will move us further beyond the Cold War, strengthen the global non-proliferation regime, and make the United States, and the world, safer and more secure.  One of the steps that I called for last year was the realization of this treaty, so it’s very gratifying to be back in Prague today.

I also came to office committed to “resetting” relations between the United States and Russia, and I know that President Medvedev shared that commitment.  As he said at our first meeting in London, our relationship had started to drift, making it difficult to cooperate on issues of common interest to our people.  And when the United States and Russia are not able to work together on big issues, it’s not good for either of our nations, nor is it good for the world.

Together, we’ve stopped that drift, and proven the benefits of cooperation.  Today is an important milestone for nuclear security and non-proliferation, and for U.S.-Russia relations.  It fulfills our common objective to negotiate a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.  It includes significant reductions in the nuclear weapons that we will deploy.  It cuts our delivery vehicles by roughly half.  It includes a comprehensive verification regime, which allows us to further build trust.  It enables both sides the flexibility to protect our security, as well as America’s unwavering commitment to the security of our European allies.  And I look forward to working with the United States Senate to achieve ratification for this important treaty later this year.

Finally, this day demonstrates the determination of the United States and Russia -- the two nations that hold over 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons -- to pursue responsible global leadership.  Together, we are keeping our commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which must be the foundation for global non-proliferation.

While the New START treaty is an important first step forward, it is just one step on a longer journey.  As I said last year in Prague, this treaty will set the stage for further cuts.  And going forward, we hope to pursue discussions with Russia on reducing both our strategic and tactical weapons, including non-deployed weapons.

President Medvedev and I have also agreed to expand our discussions on missile defense.  This will include regular exchanges of information about our threat assessments, as well as the completion of a joint assessment of emerging ballistic missiles.  And as these assessments are completed, I look forward to launching a serious dialogue about Russian-American cooperation on missile defense.

But nuclear weapons are not simply an issue for the United States and Russia -- they threaten the common security of all nations.  A nuclear weapon in the hands of a terrorist is a danger to people everywhere -- from Moscow to New York; from the cities of Europe to South Asia.  So next week, 47 nations will come together in Washington to discuss concrete steps that can be taken to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years.

And the spread of nuclear weapons to more states is also an unacceptable risk to global security -- raising the specter of arms races from the Middle East to East Asia.  Earlier this week, the United States formally changed our policy to make it clear that those [non]-nuclear weapons states that are in compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and their non-proliferation obligations will not be threatened by America’s nuclear arsenal.  This demonstrates, once more, America’s commitment to the NPT as a cornerstone of our security strategy.  Those nations that follow the rules will find greater security and opportunity.  Those nations that refuse to meet their obligations will be isolated, and denied the opportunity that comes with international recognition.

That includes accountability for those that break the rules -- otherwise the NPT is just words on a page.  That’s why the United States and Russia are part of a coalition of nations insisting that the Islamic Republic of Iran face consequences, because they have continually failed to meet their obligations.  We are working together at the United Nations Security Council to pass strong sanctions on Iran.  And we will not tolerate actions that flout the NPT, risk an arms race in a vital region, and threaten the credibility of the international community and our collective security.

While these issues are a top priority, they are only one part of the U.S.-Russia relationship.  Today, I again expressed my deepest condolences for the terrible loss of Russian life in recent terrorist attacks, and we will remain steadfast partners in combating violent extremism.  We also discussed the potential to expand our cooperation on behalf of economic growth, trade and investment, as well as technological innovation, and I look forward to discussing these issues further when President Medvedev visits the United States later this year, because there is much we can do on behalf of our security and prosperity if we continue to work together.

When one surveys the many challenges that we face around the world, it’s easy to grow complacent, or to abandon the notion that progress can be shared.  But I want to repeat what I said last year in Prague:  When nations and peoples allow themselves to be defined by their differences, the gulf between them widens.  When we fail to pursue peace, then it stays forever beyond our grasp.

This majestic city of Prague is in many ways a monument to human progress.  And this ceremony is a testament to the truth that old adversaries can forge new partnerships.  I could not help but be struck the other day by the words of Arkady Brish, who helped build the Soviet Union’s first atom bomb.  At the age of 92, having lived to see the horrors of a World War and the divisions of a Cold War, he said, “We hope humanity will reach the moment when there is no need for nuclear weapons, when there is peace and calm in the world.”

It’s easy to dismiss those voices.  But doing so risks repeating the horrors of the past, while ignoring the history of human progress.  The pursuit of peace and calm and cooperation among nations is the work of both leaders and peoples in the 21st century.  For we must be as persistent and passionate in our pursuit of progress as any who would stand in our way.
Once again, President Medvedev, thank you for your extraordinary leadership.  (Applause.)
PRESIDENT MEDVEDEV:  (As translated.)  A truly historic event took place:  A new Russia-U.S. treaty has been signed for the further reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms.  This treaty has a 10-year duration.  It will supersede the START treaty, which has expired, as well as another existing treaty, Russia-U.S. treaty on the reduction of strategic offensive capabilities.
And first of all, I'd like to thank my colleague, President of the United States of America, for the successful cooperation in this very complex matter, and for the reasonable compromises that have been achieved, thanks to the work of our two teams -- we have already thanked them, but let me do it once again in the presence of the media and the public.  We thank them for their excellent work.
And I would also like to thank the leadership of the Czech Republic, Mr. President, for the invitation to hold this signing ceremony here in this beautiful city, in this beautiful springtime, thereby creating a good atmosphere for the future.  And I believe that this signature will open a new page for cooperation between our two countries -- among our countries -- and will create safer conditions for life here and throughout the world.
One word -- we aimed at the quality of the treaty.  And indeed, the negotiating process has not been simple, but again, our negotiation teams have been working in a highly professional, constructive way that has been lots of work and very often they worked 24 hours a day.  And that enabled us to do something that just a couple of months looked like mission impossible; within a short span of time we prepared a full-fledged treaty and signed it.
As a result, we obtained a document that in full measure maintains the balance of interest of Russia and the United States of America.  What matters most is that this is a win-win situation.  No one stands to lose from this agreement.  I believe that this is a typical feature of our cooperation -- both parties have won.  And taking into account this victory of ours, the entire world community has won.
This agreement enhances strategic stability and, at the same time, enables us to rise to a higher level for cooperation between Russia and the United States.  And although the contents of the treaty are already known,  let me point out once again what we have achieved, because this is very important thing:  1,550 developed weapons, which is about one-third below the current level; 700 deployed ICBMs -- intercontinental ballistic missile -- and anti-ballistic missiles and heavy bombers, and this represents more than twofold reduction below the current levels; and 800 deployed and non-deployed launchers for such missiles -- deployed and non-deployed heavy bombers, which again represents a twofold reduction below the level that existed prior to the signature on this treaty.
And at the same time, each party can use its own discretion to defend the makeup and structure of its strategic offensive potential.
The treaty also includes provisions concerning data exchange.  We are quite experienced now in this matter with my colleague and we are great experts on this matter -- perhaps the greatest experts in the world.  And the treaty also includes provisions concerning conversion and elimination, inspection provisions and verification provisions as well as confidence-building measures.
The verification mechanism has been significantly simplified and much less costly, as compared with the previous START treaty.  At the same time, it ensures the proper verification, irreversibility and transparency of the entire process of reducing strategic offensive arms.
We believe -- and this is our hope and position -- we believe that the treaty can be viable and can operate only provided there is no qualitative or quantitative (inaudible) in place in the capabilities, something that could, in the final analysis, jeopardize the strategic offensive weapons on the Russian side.  This is the gist of the statement made by the Russian Federation in connection with the signature on this treaty.
The main task of the full signature period we regard as achieving the ratification of the treaty, as mentioned by my colleague, Mr. President of the United States, and it is also important to synchronize the ratification process.  Our American partners, as I understand, intend to proceed quickly to present this document to the Senate for ratification.  We also will be working with our Federal Assembly to maintain the necessary dynamics of the ratification process.
By and large, we are satisfied with what we've done.  The result we have obtained is good.  But today, of course, we have discussed not only the fact of signing this treaty; we have also discussed a whole range of important key issues of concern to all the countries.  Of course, we would not omit the Iranian nuclear problem.  Regrettably, Iran is not responding to the many constructive proposals that have been made and we cannot turn a blind eye to this.  Therefore I do not rule out the possibility of the Security Council of the United Nations will have to review this issue once again.
Our position is well known.  Let me briefly outline it now.  Of course, sanctions by themselves seldom obtain specific results, although it’s difficult to do without them in certain situations.  But in any case, those sanctions should be smart and aimed not only at non-proliferation but also to resolve other issues -- rather than to produce (inaudible) for the Iranian people.
(Audio is lost)
I am convinced that all that has been done so far is just the beginning of a long way, long way ahead.  I wouldn’t like to see the Russian Federation and the United States be narrowed down to just limiting strategic offensive arms.
To be sure, we shoulder specific responsibility, a special responsibility, in that respect, and we --
(Audio is lost)
     And let me once again thank President Barack Obama for the cooperation in this area.  Thank you.
(Audio is lost)
     PRESIDENT OBAMA:  We recognize, however, that Russia has a significant interest in this issue, and what we’ve committed to doing is to engaging in a significant discussion not only bilaterally but also having discussions with our European allies and others about a framework in which we can potentially cooperate on issues of missile defense in a way that preserves U.S. national security interests, preserves Russia’s national security interests, and allows us to guard against a rogue missile from any source.
     So I’m actually optimistic that having completed this treaty, which signals our strong commitment to a reduction in overall nuclear weapons, and that I believe is going to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty regime, that sends a signal around the world that the United States and Russia are prepared to once again take leadership in moving in the direction of reducing reliance on nuclear weapons and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, as well as nuclear materials, that we will have built the kind of trust not only between Presidents but also between governments and between peoples that allows us to move forward in a constructive way.
     I’ve repeatedly said that we will not do anything that endangers or limits my ability as Commander-in-Chief to protect the American people.  And we think that missile defense can be an important component of that.  But we also want to make clear that the approach that we’ve taken in no way is intended to change the strategic balance between the United States and Russia.  And I’m actually confident that, moving forward, as we have these discussions, it will be part of a broader set of discussions about, for example, how we can take tactical nuclear weapons out of theater, the possibilities of us making more significant cuts not only in deployed but also non-deployed missiles.  There are a whole range of issues that I think that we can make significant progress on.  I'm confident that this is an important first step in that direction.
     PRESIDENT MEDVEDEV:  (In Russian, then translation begins) -- on that basis we will implement the newly signed treaty.  It matters to us what will happen to missile defense.  It is related to the configuration of our potential and our capacities, and we will watch how these processes develop.  And the preamble has a language that, to a certain extent, replicates a legal principle of the unchangeability of circumstances that were basis for the treaty.  But this is a flexible process, and we are interested in close cooperation over it with our American partners.
     We have appreciated the steps by the current U.S. administration in terms of the decisions in the area of anti-missile defense of the present administration, and this has led to progress.  It doesn’t mean that we’ll have no digressions in understanding, but it means that we’ll have will and wish to address these issues.
We offered to the United States that we help them establish a global anti-missile defense system, and we should think about this, given the vulnerability of our world, the terrorist challenges and the possibility of using nuclear arms by terrorists existing in this world.
And I am an optimist, as well as my American colleague, and I believe that we will be able to reach compromise on these issues.
     Q    (As translated.)  I have two questions.  To each of the Presidents, one.  The first is to Mr. Obama.  Moscow and Washington, not for the first time, agree on a reduction of strategic offensive arms, but as you have mentioned, Russia and the United States are not the only countries having nuclear weapons.  So how specifically can the documents achieved -- well, similar to today’s document on limitation on nuclear arms -- how soon we will see others sign this document?  And will you move along this track together with Russia?
And to the President of the Russian Federation, you have mentioned the fact that sometimes there’s an impression that Moscow and Washington are unable to agree on anything else but a mutual reduction of arms.  So will we see any things that will counter such a statement?  And what will the agreement be?
     PRESIDENT OBAMA:  First of all, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, the United States and Russia account for 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.  And given this legacy of the Cold War, it is critical for us to show significant leadership.  That, I think, is what we’ve begun to do with this follow-on START treaty.
     Other countries are going to have to be making a series of decisions about how they approach the issue of their nuclear weapons stockpiles.  And as I’ve repeatedly said, and I'm sure Dmitry feels the same way with respect to his country, we are going to preserve our nuclear deterrent so long as other countries have nuclear weapons, and we are going to make sure that that stockpile is safe and secure and effective.
     But I do believe that as we look out into the 21st century, that more and more countries will come to recognize that the most important factors in providing security and peace to their citizens will depend on their economic growth, will depend on the capacity of the international community to resolve conflicts; it will depend on having a strong conventional military that can protect our nations’ borders; and that nuclear weapons increasingly in an interdependent world will make less and less sense as the cornerstone of security policy.
     But that’s going to take some time, and I think each country is going to have to make its own determinations.  The key is for the United States and Russia to show leadership on this front because we are so far ahead of every nation with respect to possession of nuclear weapons.
     The primary concerns that we identified in a recent Nuclear Posture Review, essentially a declaratory statement of U.S. policy with respect to nuclear weapons, said that our biggest concerns right now are actually the issues of nuclear terrorism and nuclear proliferation -- more countries obtaining nuclear weapons; those weapons being less controllable, less secure; nuclear materials floating around the globe.  And that’s going to be a major topic of the discussion that we have in Washington on Monday.
The United States and Russia have a history already, a decade-long history, of locking down loose nuclear materials.  I believe that our ability to move forward already on sanctions with respect to North Korea, the intense discussions that we’re having with respect to Iran, will increasingly send a signal to countries that are not abiding by their Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations, that they will be isolated.  All those things will go toward sending a general message that we need to move in a new direction.  And I think leadership on that front is important.
     Last point I'll make, I will just anticipate or coach the question about other areas of cooperation.  Our respective foreign ministers -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Lavrov -- have been heading a bilateral commission that has been working intensively on a whole range of issue.  And President Medvedev and myself identified a series of key areas on the economic front, in trade relations, the potential for joint cooperation on various industries, how we can work on innovation and sparking economic growth.  We've already worked together closely in the G20; I think we can build on that bilaterally.
     There are issues of counterterrorism that are absolutely critical to both of us, and I just want to repeat how horrified all of America was at the recent attacks in Moscow.  We recognize that that's a problem that can happen anywhere at any time, and it’s important for Russia and the United States to work closely on those issues.
     And then there are people-to-people contacts and figuring out how we can make sure that there’s more interaction and exchange between our two countries on a whole range of issues within civil society.
     So I'm very optimistic that we're going to continue to make progress on all of these fronts.  But I think we should take pride in this particular accomplishment because it speaks not only to the security of our two nations but also the security of the world as a whole.
     PRESIDENT MEDVEDEV:  It’s always good to answer second.  First of all, you know what your partner has said, and secondly, you can comment on what has been said by your interlocutor.  As a matter of fact, I will say a couple of words on the first part of the question that was meant for my colleague.
     Yes, we have 90 percent of all the stockpiles which is the heritage of the Cold War legacy and we'll do all that we have agreed upon.  Keep in mind special mission of Russia and the U.S. on this issue, and we do care about what is going on with nuclear arms in other countries of the world, and we can't imagine a situation when the Russian Federation and the United States take efforts to disarm and the world would move towards a principled different direction away -- in charge of our peoples and the situation in the world.
     So all the issues related to the implementation of the treaty and non-proliferation and the threat of nuclear terrorism should be analyzed by us in a complex way, an integrated way.  And I'd like this signing not to be regarded by other countries as their -- well, stepping aside from the issue.  On the contrary.   They should be involved to the full and take an active participation in it.  They should be aware what is going on.
     So we welcome the initiative that has been proposed by the President of the United States to convene a relevant conference in Washington, and I will take part in it, which is good platform to discuss non-proliferation issues.
     In this world we have a lot that brings us together, we and the United States as well.  And today we have had a very good talk that has started not with the discussion of the documents to be signed -- they were coordinated -- and not with discussing Iran, North Korea, Middle East, and other pressing issues of foreign affairs, but we started with economic issues.
     I have said that there is a gap in our economic cooperation.  I have looked at the figures, how the cumulative investments of the United States in Russia is quite small -- nearly $7 billion, and the figure has decreased a bit thanks to the world crisis.  In terms of Russian investment into the U.S., well, it’s nearly the same, which testifies to areas of interests.  It’s not with all countries that we have such volume of investment, but if we compare the figures with the figures of foreign investors’ presence in the American economy -- I mean other countries, including states that can be compared with Russia in terms of volume of economy, so it’s the difference of 20 or 30 times.  So we have a field to work upon.
To say nothing about the projects we talked about today -- modernization, high-tech, economy, establishment, and in the Russian Federation we are open for cooperation and would like to use American experience to employ -- these also include issues of energy, cooperation in transport, and I have suggested some time ago returning to the issue of creating a big cargo plane as such a unique experience -- only two countries have, the U.S. and Russia. The issues of nuclear cooperation are important.
So there can be a lot of economic projects.  It’s not the business of Presidents to deal with each of them, but some key issues are to be controlled by us, as the relations in business, relations between those who would like to develop active ties -- depend on business ties -- and humanitarian contacts, people-to-people contacts are important.  And it’s significant that we do our best so that our citizens respect each other, understand each other better, so that they are guided by the best practices of American-Russian culture, and not perceive each other through the lens of information that sometimes is provided by mass media.
So we should more attentively, more thoughtfully -- well, have a more thoughtful attitude towards each other.  And I count on this.
Q    Thank you, President Medvedev and President Obama.  For President Obama first, could you elaborate on how the yearlong negotiations over the New START treaty have advanced U.S. cooperation with Russia on Iran, and give us a sense of when you will pursue, move forward in the United Nations and next week with sanctions discussions, and what those sanctions might look like?
And for President Medvedev, could you address whether Russia could accept sanctions against Iran specifically dealing with its energy industry and energy sector?  Thank you.
     PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Discussions about sanctions on Iran have been moving forward over the last several weeks.  In fact, they’ve been moving forward over the last several months.  We’re going to start seeing some ramped-up negotiations taking place in New York in the coming weeks.  And my expectation is that we are going to be able to secure strong, tough sanctions on Iran this spring.
     Now, I think there are two ways in which these START negotiations have advanced or at least influenced Russia-U.S. discussions around Iran.  The first is obviously that President Medvedev and I have been able to build up a level of trust and our teams have been able to work together in such a way that we can be frank, we can be clear, and that helped to facilitate, then, our ability, for example, to work together jointly to present to Iran reasonable options that would allow it to clearly distance itself from nuclear weapons and pursue a path of peaceful nuclear energy.
     That wasn’t just an approach that was taken by the United States and Russia, but it was an approach taken by the P5-plus-1 as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA.
     So what we’ve seen from the start is that a host of countries, but -- led by countries like the United States and Russia, have said to Iran, we are willing to work through diplomatic channels to resolve this issue.  And unfortunately, Iran has consistently rebuffed our approach.  And I think that Russia has been a very strong partner in saying that it has no interest in bringing down Iranian society or the Iranian government, but it does have an interest, as we all do, in making sure that each country is following its international obligations.
     The second way in which I think the START treaty has influenced our discussions about Iran is it’s sent a strong signal that the United States and Iran -- or the United States and Russia are following our own obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that our interest in Iran or North Korea or any other country following the NPT is not based on singling out any one country, but rather sends a strong signal that all of us have an obligation, each country has an obligation to follow the rules of the road internationally to ensure a more secure future for our children and our grandchildren.
     And so I think the fact that we are signing this treaty, the fact that we are willing, as the two leading nuclear powers, to continually work on reducing our own arsenals, I think should indicate the fact that we are willing to be bound by our obligations, and we’re not asking any other countries to do anything different, but simply to follow the rules of the road that have been set forth and have helped to maintain at least a lack of the use of nuclear weapons over the last several decades, despite, obviously, the Cold War.
     And the concern that I have in particular, a concern that I think is the most profound security threat to the United States, is that with further proliferation of nuclear weapons, with states obtaining nuclear weapons and potentially using them to blackmail other countries or potentially not securing them effectively or passing them on to terrorist organizations, that we could find ourselves in a world in which not only state actors but also potentially non-state actors are in possession of nuclear weapons, and even if they don’t use them, would then be in a position to terrorize the world community.
That’s why this issue is so important, and that’s why we are going to be pushing very hard to make sure that both smart and strong sanctions end up being in place soon to send a signal to Iran and other countries that this is an issue that the international community takes seriously.
PRESIDENT MEDVEDEV:  Let’s ask ourselves a question:  What do we need sanctions for?  Do we need them to enjoy the very fact of reprising -- imposing reprisals against another state, or is the objective another one?  I am confident that all those present here will say that sanctions -- we need sanctions in order to prompt one or another individual or state to behave properly, behave within the framework of international law, while complying with the obligations assumed.
Therefore, when we are speaking about sanctions, I cannot disagree with what has yet been said.  And this has been the position of the Russian Federation from the very outset.  If we are to speak about sanctions, although they are not always successful, those sanctions should be smart sanctions that are capable of producing proper behavior on the part of relevant sides.
And what sort of sanctions should we need?  Today we have had a very open-minded, frank, and straightforward manner discussed what can be done and what cannot be done.  And let me put it straightforward:  I have outlined our limits for such sanctions, our understanding of these sanctions, and I said that in making decisions like that, I, as friend of the Russian Federation, will proceed from two premises.  First, we need to prompt Iran to behave properly; and secondly, least but not least, aim to maintain the national interests of our countries.
So smart sanctions should be able to motivate certain parties to behave properly, and I'm confident that our teams that will be engaged in consultations will continue discussing this issue.
Q    (As translated.)  Now, everyone is concerned whether the treaty will be ratified by the parliaments.  You have mentioned that you will be working with the parliamentarians to achieve such certification.  Let me ask you what difficulty you see along this road, and what do you -- how do you assess the chances for success?  The question is addressed to both Presidents.
PRESIDENT MEDVEDEV:  Well, by all appearances, Barack believes that we might have more problems with ratification.  Perhaps that’s true, but let me say what I think about this question.
Of course, such agreements of major importance, international agreements, under our constitution and under our legislation, are subject to ratification by our parliaments.  And of course, for our part, we intend to proceed promptly and to do all the necessary procedures to ensure that our parliament, our State Duma, starts reviewing this treaty, discussing this treaty.
I will proceed from the following:  I believe that we have to ensure the synchronization of this ratification process so that neither party feels in one way or another compromised.  Earlier we had periods when one state ratified while another party said, sorry, the situation has changed; therefore we cannot do it.
So this is something we’re to avoid.  That’s why I say we have to proceed simultaneously in the conditions of an open-minded and straightforward discussion with subsequent certification by our parliaments.  That’s what we need.  And we will not be found amiss in that regard.
PRESIDENT OBAMA:  The United States Senate has the obligation of reviewing any treaty and, ultimately, ratifying it.  Fortunately there is a strong history of bipartisanship when it comes to the evaluation of international treaties, particularly arms control treaties.
And so I have already engaged in consultation with the chairmen of the relevant committees in the United States Senate.  We are going to broaden that consultation now that this treaty has been signed.  My understanding is, is that both in Russia and the United States, it’s going to be posed on the Internet, appropriate to a 21st century treaty.  And so people not only within government but also the general public will be able to review, in an open and transparent fashion, what it is that we’ve agreed to.
I think what they will discover is that this is a well-crafted treaty that meets the interests of both countries; that meets the interests of the world in the United States and Russia reducing its nuclear arsenals and setting the stage for potentially further reductions in the future.
And so I'm actually quite confident that Democrats and Republicans in the United States Senate, having reviewed this, will see that the United States has preserved its core national security interests, that it is maintaining a safe and secure and effective nuclear deterrent, but that we are beginning to once again move forward, leaving the Cold War behind, to address new challenges in new ways.  And I think the START treaty represents an important first step in that direction, and I feel confident that we are going to be able to get it ratified.
All right?  Thank you very much, everybody.
PRESIDENT MEDVEDEV:  Thank you, sir.  Next time.  (Applause.)
                   END                1:29 P.M. CEST

Obama and Medvedev Sign Arms Treaty

Obama and Medvedev Sign Arms Treaty

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President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) on April 8, described by the British Times as “the first concrete foreign policy achievement by Mr. Obama since he took office.”
“Today is an important milestone for nuclear security and non-proliferation, and for U.S.-Russia relations,” said Obama, speaking inside Prague Castle,  the official residence of the Czech President, in the capital of the Czech Republic.

“We are going to start seeing some ramped up negotiations. We are going to be able to secure strong, tough sanctions on Iran this spring,” added Obama.

Medvedev, while standing at a lectern next to Obama, commented about the treaty: “The result we have obtained is good.”

The Times cited Obama’s belief that that the U.S.-Russia pact helped to increase pressure on Iran by strengthening ties between Moscow and Washington and demonstrating to the world that the two powers were serious about keeping to their commitments to disarm under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Obama will continue to press for a tougher stance against Iran at a two-day summit comprised of 47 national leaders that he will host in Washington next week.

The White House website posted a release entitled “Remarks by President Obama and President Medvedev of Russia at New START Treaty Signing Ceremony and Press Conference.”

During the event, President Obama stated:
One year ago this week, I came here to Prague and gave a speech outlining America’s comprehensive commitment to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and seeking the ultimate goal of a world without them.... I believed then — as I do now — that the pursuit of that goal will move us further beyond the Cold War, strengthen the global non-proliferation regime, and make the United States, and the world, safer and more secure. One of the steps that I called for last year was the realization of this treaty, so it’s very gratifying to be back in Prague today....
Today is an important milestone for nuclear security and non-proliferation, and for U.S.-Russia relations. It fulfills our common objective to negotiate a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. It includes significant reductions in the nuclear weapons that we will deploy. It cuts our delivery vehicles by roughly half. It includes a comprehensive verification regime, which allows us to further build trust. It enables both sides the flexibility to protect our security, as well as America’s unwavering commitment to the security of our European allies. And I look forward to working with the United States Senate to achieve ratification for this important treaty later this year.

The president continued:
While the New START treaty is an important first step forward, it is just one step on a longer journey. As I said last year in Prague, this treaty will set the stage for further cuts.  And going forward, we hope to pursue discussions with Russia on reducing both our strategic and tactical weapons, including non-deployed weapons. 

As we continue through Obama’s statements we also find his advocacy of an international nuclear weapons enforcement apparatus through the UN:
Earlier this week, the United States formally changed our policy to make it clear that those [non]-nuclear weapons states that are in compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and their non-proliferation obligations will not be threatened by America’s nuclear arsenal.  This demonstrates, once more, America’s commitment to the NPT as a cornerstone of our security strategy. Those nations that follow the rules will find greater security and opportunity. Those nations that refuse to meet their obligations will be isolated, and denied the opportunity that comes with international recognition. 
That includes accountability for those that break the rules — otherwise the NPT is just words on a page. That’s why the United States and Russia are part of a coalition of nations insisting that the Islamic Republic of Iran face consequences, because they have continually failed to meet their obligations. We are working together at the United Nations Security Council to pass strong sanctions on Iran. And we will not tolerate actions that flout the NPT, risk an arms race in a vital region, and threaten the credibility of the international community and our collective security. 
[Emphasis added.]

Notice Obama’s insistence that supposedly sovereign nation states are bound by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) enforceable by sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council.

This may not seem a matter of grave consequence so long as we are speaking of some “rogue” Middle Easter regime. But consider the precedent set by this line of thinking: Nations that are party to the UN and UN-mandated nuclear non-proliferation treaties are subject to UN sanctions and therefore subservient to the UN.

As to how this impacts the United Sates, we must look to a long series of actions taken by U.S. presidents to surrender U.S. nuclear weapons to a UN authority. The first notable example of this occurred on on September 25, 1961, when President John F. Kennedy presented to the 16th General Assembly of the United Nations a disarmament proposal entitled, Freedom from War: The United States Program for General and Complete Disarmament in a Peaceful World (State Department Publication 7277).

The "disarmament" called for by the document had much more to do with creating a monopoly of force for the UN than with weapons elimination. Excerpts from the document include:
• "Disarmament shall take place as rapidly as possible until it is completed in [a program of three] stages containing balanced, phased and safeguarded measures, with each measure and stage to be carried out in an agreed period of time."

• "As states relinquish their arms, the United Nations shall be progressively strengthened in order to improve its capacity to assure international security and the peaceful settlement of differences as well as to facilitate the development of international cooperation in common tasks for the benefit of mankind."

• "By the time Stage II [of the three-stage disarmament program] has been completed, the confidence produced through a verified disarmament program, the acceptance of rules of peaceful international behavior, and the development of strengthened international peace-keeping processes within the framework of the U.N. should have reached a point where the states of the world can move forward to Stage III. In Stage III progressive controlled disarmament and continuously developing principles and procedures of international law would proceed to a point where no state would have the military power to challenge the progressively strengthened U.N. Peace Force and all international disputes would be settled according to the agreed principles of international conduct." (Emphasis added.)
Photo: President Barack Obama signs the New START treaty, April 8, 2010, in Prague: AP Images
More in this category: « Obama Pressures His "Home Country" Kenya to Legalize Abortion Obama Reserves Option to

more proof obama plans to kill you

Obama Demands Smaller U.S. Nuclear Arsenal, Praises Russia

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President Obama promised on Monday to pursue yet another controversial agreement with Russian officials to further slash both governments’ nuclear arsenals, saying the United States already controls more than enough atomic weapons. Speaking ahead of a global “security” summit in Seoul, South Korea, Obama also blasted the regimes ruling North Korea and Iran.
Despite several high-profile disagreements in recent years, outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev praised the Obama administration, saying relations between the two governments had reached their “best level” in a decade. Obama, meanwhile, thanked Medvedev for his “cooperation” and said he could not have asked for a “better partner” in Russia. 
"Going forward, we'll continue to seek discussions with Russia on a step we have never taken before — reducing not only our strategic nuclear warheads, but also tactical weapons and warheads in reserve," Obama said during a speech at South Korea’s Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. “We can already say with confidence that we have more nuclear weapons than we need.”
Shortly after taking office, Obama vowed to pursue a “world without nuclear weapons,” drawing praise from anti-nuclear activists but criticism from a broad range of others. And in 2010, the administration convinced the U.S. Senate to ratify the highly controversial new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with the Russian government. The treaty, which cut nuclear stockpiles by one third, was hailed as Obama’s first major foreign policy achievement.
At the time, outraged American critics complained that the deal significantly weakened U.S. national defense capabilities and further eroded national sovereignty. But as Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin prepares to take office again, Obama is again demanding deeper cuts.
"I’m confident that, working together, we can continue to make progress and reduce our nuclear stockpiles,” the President told students during his speech. “Of course, we’ll consult closely with our allies every step of the way, because the security and defense of our allies, both in Europe and Asia, is not negotiable."
Obama also tried to use emotional appeals while framing the issue as a “moral” imperative. "I believe the United States has a unique responsibility to act — indeed, we have a moral obligation," he claimed. "I say this as President of the only nation ever to use nuclear weapons. I say it as a Commander-in-Chief who knows that our nuclear codes are never far from my side. Most of all, I say it as a father, who wants my two young daughters to grow up in a world where everything they know and love can't be instantly wiped out."
Despite Obama and Medvedev patting each other on the back, the meetings come at a time of increasing tensions. In Syria, for example, the U.S. government, Western leaders, al-Qaeda, and a collection of Middle Eastern dictatorships are backing a coalition of armed rebels seeking to overthrow “President” Bashir al-Assad. The Russian government, meanwhile, has reportedly been funneling arms to the Syrian regime.
But Medvedev said Russia supports peace in Syria, arguing only that another international “regime change” operation modeled after the blood-drenched NATO fiasco in Libya was not the way to achieve it. “We together with the U.S. president maintain that [former UN boss Kofi Annan’s recent mission to Damascus] is a good way to reach at least an initial point of settlement and open the road for communication between various groups of society in Syria,” he was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Russian authorities are also upset with the U.S. government over a planned “missile shield” to be erected close to Russia’s borders. The controversy became so serious that it even led senior Russian officials to threaten American military forces’ supply routes into Afghanistan. Throughout the meetings and speeches in Seoul, however, both Presidents consistently expressed warm feelings for one another.
During his speech, Obama also took time to attack the North Korean and Iranian regimes — particularly their nuclear programs. Speaking of Iran earlier in the day, the President renewed his threats against the nation over its alleged weapons program despite the fact that the U.S. intelligence community does not believe the Islamic dictatorship is even pursuing nuclear missiles. “Time is short,” he warned.
Obama also promised not to continue rewarding the communist dictatorship ruling North Korea with more American tax dollars every time it makes threats or provocations. He also asked the communist regime controlling mainland China to seek more negotiations with its murderous ally in Pyongyang.
Republican lawmakers have recently criticized the President for offering the regime more aid, calling it “appeasement.” The North Korean dictatorship, meanwhile, is planning to launch a rocket that it claims will deliver a satellite into space. But experts say it could be another ballistic missile test.
Support for further U.S. nuclear-arms reductions in the Senate is expected to be low. And Obama’s goal of a potential 80-percent reduction in deployed American nuclear weapons is unlikely to materialize any time soon, according to analysts.
Ahead of the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul on Monday — which brings together some 50 global leaders — Obama praised the “international community” for making progress securing nuclear material over the last two years. The President’s critics, however, have continued to ridicule and condemn his efforts to disarm America.
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North Korea Breaks Nuclear Agreement
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more proof obama gives our tax dollars to terrorist

Country Reports on Terrorism

Country Reports on Terrorism

Date: 03/10/2010 Description: Investigators stand at a site of a suicide bombing in Kizlyar, in the southern Russian region of Dagestan. © AP Image U.S. law requires the Secretary of State to provide Congress, by April 30 of each year, a full and complete report on terrorism with regard to those countries and groups meeting criteria set forth in the legislation. This annual report is entitled Country Reports on Terrorism. Beginning with the report for 2004, it replaced the previously published Patterns of Global Terrorism.
Country Reports on Terrorism
 2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004

Patterns of Global Terrorism
 2003  2002  2001 2000  

»Archive of Earlier Reports
»Fighting Terrorism Reports from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security

-Background Information: Country Reports on Terrorism and Patterns of Global Terrorism


Designations and State Sponsors of Terrorism » State Sponsors of Terrorism

State Sponsors of Terrorism

Countries determined by the Secretary of State to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism are designated pursuant to three laws: section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act, section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act, and section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act. Taken together, the four main categories of sanctions resulting from designation under these authorities include restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.
Designation under the above-referenced authorities also implicates other sanctions laws that penalize persons and countries engaging in certain trade with state sponsors. Currently there are four countries designated under these authorities: Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria.
Country Designation Date
Cuba March 1, 1982
Iran January 19, 1984
Sudan August 12, 1993
Syria December 29, 1979
For more details about State Sponsors of Terrorism, see "Overview of State Sponsored Terrorism" in Country Reports on Terrorism.

Christian Massacres: A Result of U.S. Foreign Policy

Christian Massacres: A Result of U.S. Foreign Policy

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It has been claimed that U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East could not be intentionally designed to do a better job of liquidating Christians than is happening nowadays. It's likely true.
Asia Bibi is a mother of five children and a devout Christian. She is also on death row — for “blasphemy.” And incredibly, she lives under a government that receives billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars every year: Pakistan, one of the top recipients of American foreign aid. Over the last 10 years, the Pakistani regime has raked in well over $20 billion from U.S. taxpayers. 

Meanwhile, the government has been brutally persecuting and oppressing the sizeable Christian minority. Indeed, the Pakistani regime consistently ranks as among the worst in the world in terms of persecution. And according to senior U.S. officials, Pakistan’s “intelligence” services have even been collaborating with terrorist groups to attack American targets.

Almost three years ago, Bibi was working as a farmhand when she apparently got into an argument with some Muslim women also working in the fields. Her co-workers alleged that she “defamed” the Islamic prophet, Mohammed. She insists she merely defended her own faith and was falsely accused because of existing animosity. That’s when the tragic ordeal began.

Hearing that a Christian woman made a derogatory remark about Mohammed, a furious mob led by a local cleric promptly descended on Bibi’s home. According to news reports, her family was beaten and tortured by the outraged local residents. They sexually assaulted Bibi, put a noose around her neck, and almost killed her.

When police finally arrived, they rescued the family — temporarily, at least — before charging Bibi with a capital offense: blasphemy. She was ultimately arrested, and has been in jail ever since. Her family went into hiding to avoid being murdered by vigilantes. “My children,” she wrote in a letter to her family, published in a book about her ordeal, “don’t lose courage or faith in Jesus Christ.”        

In November of 2010, Bibi, also known as Aasiya Noreen, was sentenced to execution by hanging. She has been in a tiny prison cell for years — in deplorable conditions and complete isolation — awaiting an appeal with a higher court. But even if she is freed, countless religious leaders have vowed to murder her — there is already a bounty on her head.

And Bibi was not the only victim. As her case attracted international attention, Salmaan Taseer, the Governor of Punjab, spoke out in defense of Bibi and against Pakistan’s brutal blasphemy laws. He paid for his activism with his life. In January of last year, he was murdered by a member of his own security detail. Hundreds of Muslim scholars and clerics praised the assassination, and more than a thousand lawyers rushed to the killer’s defense. Taseer’s son was kidnapped by jihadists later that year.

Two months after the assassination, Pakistani Minister of Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti — the only Christian Minister in the regime — was also murdered. His killers left leaflets at the crime scene indicating that they assassinated him for opposing the blasphemy law.  

Just this March, another mother, 26 years old, was reportedly taken into custody on “blasphemy” charges. More than a few Christians have been executed by vigilantes after being charged.

“A close examination of the cases reveals the blasphemy laws are often invoked to settle personal scores, or they are used by Islamist extremists as cover to persecute religious minorities, sadly with the help of the state under these laws,” noted Pakistanis for Peace founder Manzer Munir, saying there had been almost 1,000 cases of “blasphemy” since the death penalty was adopted as a punishment for it in 1986. 

The U.S. government, of course, knows very well that it is bankrolling the atrocities. “Pakistan continues to be responsible for systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of freedom of religion or belief,” noted the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in its 2011 annual report. And conditions continue to deteriorate.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, another close U.S. “ally,” is also ranked as among the worst oppressors of Christians in the world, behind only Afghanistan and North Korea. And the hard-line Islamic dictatorship’s Grand Mufti — the highest-ranking Muslim cleric — recently claimed it was “necessary to destroy all churches in the region.”

Trillions Spent, 
and for What?
After trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives were sacrificed by the U.S. government over the last decade intervening in the Middle East — the birthplace of Jesus Christ and Christianity — Christian communities are facing unprecedented struggles across most of the region. More than a few analysts have even called the systematic and growing persecution of Christians throughout much of the Muslim world an ongoing example of genocide.

“Conditions for genocide against non-Muslim communities exist in varying degrees throughout the region stretching from Pakistan to Morocco. The crisis of survival for non-Muslim communities is especially acute in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Sudan, the Palestinian territories, Iran and Pakistan,” explained Dr. John Eibner of the non-profit human-rights group Christian Solidarity International. “Millions of lives and the future of a religiously pluralistic civilization in the Middle East are at stake.”

According to some estimates, more than 150,000 Christians are murdered every year for their faith around the world. The vast majority of those — over three-fourths — are in Islamic-dominated nations. And in many cases, U.S. taxpayers are either subsidizing the slaughter by distributing billions to oppressive regimes, or worse, helping to create the conditions that allow the persecution to happen in the first place.

One of the most frequent excuses offered to justify the persecution of Christians by murderous regimes and the anti-Christian fanatics they enable is that believers in Christ are somehow acting as surrogates or proxies for Western interests — especially the U.S. government. After decades of meddling in the internal affairs of nations around the world — backing dictators, sparking revolutions, imposing sanctions, and more — America is widely perceived as hostile and dangerous. Plus, as tyrants throughout history have learned, minorities make good scapegoats.  

The trend of linking local Christian populations to American foreign policy goes back decades. In 1970, for example, Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued an official Islamic decree, or “fatwa,” accusing Iranian Christians of “working with American imperialists and oppressive rulers to distort the truths of Islam, lead Muslims astray, and convert our children.” The fatwa came while the Western establishment was still intervening on behalf of the Shah of Iran — leading to widespread anti-American resentment — and after the Central Intelligence Agency sparked a coup d’├ętat in 1953 under the guise of fighting communism.

More recently, U.S. government intervention in the region has been justified using a broad array of issues: supposed “Weapons of Mass Destruction” (WMDs), the terror war, regional security, trade, and vaguely defined “national interests.” But increasingly, American policymakers have been meddling in the Middle East under the guise of “spreading democracy.” And as analysts have noted, when the overwhelming majority of the population is Muslim, so-called “democracy” — or majority rule — does not generally bode well for Christians and other minorities.

But to better understand the role of U.S. foreign policy in the ongoing and worsening atrocities against Christians, it helps to examine the two nations where the American government has been most involved over the last decade: Iraq and Afghanistan. According to experts like Chairman Leonard Leo of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an official advisory body, there is now a very real prospect that Christianity could be completely wiped out in both countries. And in other nations — from Libya and Egypt to Pakistan and Syria — the effects of U.S. policies are producing similar fruit.

Christianity goes back almost 2,000 years in the land known today as Iraq. In fact, Assyrian Christians are often said to be the true indigenous people of the area. The devout communities there survived through centuries of invasion, persecution, and attempted extermination. Despite the never-ending onslaught, Christianity continued to thrive. Until “democracy” arrived, that is.

In the wake of the U.S. invasion and occupation — which in 2007 the Congressional Budget Office estimated would cost U.S. taxpayers about $2 trillion — Christianity in Iraq might very well be fully eradicated. Reliable estimates found that about 1.4 million Christians lived in Iraq before 2003. Today, that number is less than 500,000, with some experts claiming the true figure is actually around 200,000. In all, some two-thirds of the nation’s Christians have already fled or been killed.

Despite making up just three percent of the population prior to the U.S. invasion, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Christians accounted for nearly half of the refugees by 2008. Much of the faithful remnant in Iraq is seeking a way out before the persecution gets even worse — and that is despite calls by numerous Iraqi church leaders for the Christian communities to remain in their homeland.

Under the secular dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, Christians and other minorities were largely protected from Islamist violence and genocide — unlike in many areas of the Middle East. Indeed, the tyrant’s socialist Ba’th Party was founded by Michel Aflaq, an Orthodox Christian, and actually held “freedom of religion” as one of its core tenets. 

Of course, as is well documented, enemies of the Iraqi regime were viciously persecuted and slaughtered. Despite the fact that the U.S. government once supported the regime, Hussein has been properly characterized as a monster. But under the dictator’s iron fist, Christians worshipped openly throughout Iraq and were not treated any worse than Muslims or anyone else.

Anti-Christian violence, prevalent across much of the Middle East, was not tolerated. Almost unprecedented in the entire region’s contemporary history: A Catholic, Tariq Aziz, served as Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

Even before the United States invaded Iraq, the repercussions of overthrowing a secular dictator in the Middle East were glaringly obvious to analysts — then-President George W. Bush was even warned of the consequences by his own advisors. The public was alerted, too, or at least could have been had citizens taken the time to perform a simple online search. Just a few weeks before American forces invaded, analyst and political-science expert Glen Chancy, a member of the Orthodox Church, wrote a piece explaining exactly what was likely to happen to Christians in the wake of war.

“This may come as a shock to many Americans, whose image of Saddam has been framed by comparisons to Adolf Hitler, but the prevalent fear among Assyrians [Christians], both in Iraq and abroad, is that what comes next after an American invasion will be worse,” he wrote. “Should the Assyrians be so concerned about being liberated by U.S. military power? If history is our guide, they shouldn’t be afraid. They should be terrified.”

Chancy made no effort to hide the murderous and barbaric nature of Saddam’s tyranny. But the Iraqi tyrant was brutal to all, and unlike under most Middle Eastern regimes, Christians in Iraq were doing very well. “Saddam’s regime has permitted a degree of free practice for Christians that is positively enviable compared to the situations experienced in such U.S. ‘allies’ as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia,” he noted. “Christmas and Easter decorations always abound, even in Baghdad, and attending church does not require an act of courage.”

After the United States invaded, however, everything changed. “The Assyrians have survived the coming of the Persians, the Arabs, and the Turks,” Chancy observed. “It remains to be seen if they will survive the coming of the Americans.” Unfortunately, as Chancy and countless other analysts warned, Christians did not fare well. With the fall of Hussein’s regime, Islamist militias vented their fury not just on the “infidel” invaders, but on local Christians, too.

Businesses were seized, churches were bombed, women were raped, Sharia law was brutally enforced, and Christians, including women and children, were viciously slaughtered. Muslim extremists throughout the nation and Kurdish nationalists in northern areas — supposedly U.S. allies — all participated in the massacres and persecution.

A year after the U.S. invasion, Chancy’s dire warnings had become reality. “In fact, the current policies of the Bush administration are threatening to absolutely devastate ancient and pious Christian communities whose blood will be on all our heads,” he observed in late 2004, saying the American people had become accomplices in the slaughter and destruction of large segments of the world’s Christian population.

“To deal with the subject honestly, it must be acknowledged that it almost appears as if President George Walker Bush were waging a global war against Christians,” he wrote. “Had President George W. Bush set out with the intentional goal of destroying the Christian population in Iraq, it is hard to see how he could have been more effective than he has been to date.” That was in 2004.

Since then, the situation has deteriorated further. In October of 2010, for example, Islamic extremists under the banner of the “Islamic State of Iraq” attacked Our Lady of Salvation Syriac Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad. More than 50 Christians were murdered including two priests. The same church had already been bombed in 2004.

In August of 2011, a series of apparently coordinated attacks on more than a dozen churches left over 65 dead. In 2006, a 14-year-old boy was reportedly crucified. A priest was also beheaded. Christian women and girls, meanwhile, are also among the victims, being routinely targeted for rape and execution.

The new U.S.-imposed “democracy” remains unable or unwilling to do much about the problem. Perpetrators are rarely brought to justice, and in more than a few cases, officials have been suspected of involvement. The brave Christians who remain in Iraq live in complete terror.

“Why did they come? To do what? They came to give us freedom — the freedom to kill one another,” Auxiliary Chaldean Bishop of Baghdad Shelmon Warduni told the Christian relief agency Aid to the Church in Need. Countless senior church figures have expressed similar thoughts in recent years.

“Everybody hates the Christian. Yes, during Saddam Hussein, we were living in peace — nobody attacked us. We had human rights, we had protection from the government. But now, nobody protects us,” explained Archbishop Athanasios Dawood of the Syrian Orthodox Church, accusing the U.S. government of making empty promises. “Since 2003, there has been no protection for Christians. We’ve lost many people and they’ve bombed our homes, our churches, monasteries.”

Top Vatican officials have pointed to the tragedy facing Christians in Iraq as well. After blasting the “pre-emptive” U.S. war as a “crime against peace” before the invasion began, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue Jean-Louis Tauran noted in a 2007 interview that Christians, “paradoxically, were more protected under the dictatorship.”

Even the U.S. government’s own research confirms the ongoing tragedy. “In Iraq, members of the country’s smallest religious minorities suffer from targeted violence, threats, and intimidation, against which the government does not provide effective protection,” noted the USCIRF in its 2011 annual report. “These violations are systematic, ongoing and egregious, and perpetrators are rarely identified, investigated, or punished, creating a climate of impunity.”

In fact, beyond failing to protect Christians, the new regime installed by Western forces is actually part of the problem. “The smallest minorities also experience a pattern of official discrimination, marginalization, and neglect,” the report stated. “The violence, forced displacement, discrimination, marginalization, and neglect suffered by members of these [Christian and other minority] groups threaten these ancient communities’ very existence in Iraq.”

Analysts debate the causes of Christianity’s virtual extermination in Iraq under U.S. military occupation. Some say the American government was not prepared to deal with the situation. Others contend that it simply had other priorities and was not sufficiently concerned with the fate of Christians and minority groups.

International relations and geopolitics analyst Lee Jay Walker, for example, wrote in the Seoul Times that “the destruction of Christianity in Iraq is taking place because of misguided American policies and because the Christian community is not deemed to be important.” No matter the reason, however, it is undeniable that Christians in Iraq have suffered tremendously as a direct result of U.S. foreign policy.

Meanwhile, the purpose of the war — WMDs, terror, democracy, freedom? — remains as elusive as ever. But the constitution of Iraq, imposed with Western assistance, has come under fire from around the globe. “Islam is the official religion of the State and it is a fundamental source of legislation,” it states. “No law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established.” The document also enshrines big-government control over healthcare, education, employment, housing, and virtually every other sector.

As in Iraq, the history of Christianity in Afghanistan is believed to go back almost 2,000 years. According to numerous sources, the apostle Thomas set out for the region and preached the Gospel throughout several areas that are now part of modern-day Afghanistan and India. The so-called “Church of the East” thrived in the region for almost 1,000 years until the arrival of strict Islamism in the 13th and 14th centuries resulted in the destruction of churches and the attempted eradication of Christianity. Still, a small remnant of Christians is believed to have survived in Afghanistan over the centuries.

The Afghan Taliban — largely armed and trained in the 1970s and 1980s by the U.S. government and its allies — was brutal when it finally seized power, especially to Christians. Once the coalition of Islamic extremists took over Kabul, it destroyed churches and viciously sought to stamp out Christianity. But despite the persecution, a sort of “underground” church continued to exist throughout the group’s murderous reign.

According to the U.S. State Department, the hidden Christian minority inside Afghanistan is estimated at between 500 and 8,000 adherents. Other estimates place the number even higher, but it is impossible to know — publicly admitting to be a Christian would be a death sentence. Thousands more live as exiles outside of the country.  

Incredibly, since the U.S. occupation began in 2001, experts say the situation for Christians in Afghanistan has not only failed to improve — it may have actually become worse. Even regular Afghans now associate Christians with the widely unpopular foreign occupation. And the new government is openly hostile to Christianity, which is, for all intents and purposes, illegal.

Meanwhile, the Taliban continue to rule over vast swaths of the nation, waging “jihad” against any Christians they may discover — foreign or domestic. Plus, the Obama administration is desperately seeking to negotiate with the group in a bid that could see it eventually restored to power. Hardly encouraging to U.S. troops or local Christians. 

Finally, the last remaining public Christian church in Afghanistan was demolished in 2010. Apparently the courts refused to uphold Christians’ claim to the property. And the U.S.-backed regime has not issued a single new building permit for churches.  

Open Doors’ 2012 World Watch List, a yearly ranking of the worst regimes in terms of Christian persecution, ranked Afghanistan as number two, up from third place the year before. The only nation worse than Afghanistan was the mass-murdering communist dictatorship ruling North Korea, which, perhaps ironically, also receives significant amounts of aid from the U.S. government. Saudi Arabia came in third.  

For Afghanistan too, official U.S. entities acknowledge the tragic situation. “The government’s level of respect for religious freedom in law and in practice declined during the reporting period, particularly for Christian groups and individuals,” noted the 2010 State Department Religious Freedom report almost a decade after U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan and overthrew the government. That decline came after President Obama’s military “surge,” too.

“Negative societal opinions and suspicion of Christian activities led to targeting of Christian groups and individuals, including Muslim converts to Christianity,” the report noted. “The lack of government responsiveness and protection for these groups and individuals contributed to the deterioration of religious freedom.”

In its 2011 report, the USCIRF reported similar findings. “Conditions for religious freedom remain exceedingly poor for minority religious communities and dissenting members of the majority faith [Islam], despite the presence of U.S. armed forces in Afghanistan for almost 10 years and the substantial investment of lives, resources, and expertise by the United States and international community,” it noted, adding that even the government was prosecuting people for such “crimes” as apostasy and blasphemy. “The 2004 Afghan constitution has effectively established Islamic law as the law of the land.”

The new Afghan constitution, imposed with help from the U.S. government, states that “no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam” — Islam being the “official” religion of Afghanistan. And because certain interpretations of the Koran call for executing those who leave Islam, the few remaining Christians live under permanent threat of martyrdom at the hands of the U.S. government-backed regime or the Taliban, America’s former ally. 

After a media broadcast showed Afghans being baptized, U.S.-backed “President” Hamid Karzai vowed to hunt down the new Christians. Some 20 people were reportedly arrested. A series of official prosecutions of Christians and converts has indeed helped shine the international spotlight on the issue — putting global pressure on the regime to back down in a few cases. But converts like Sayed Mussa, for example, have been imprisoned, raped, tortured, and prosecuted for their faith in Christ. Mussa and others like him were facing the death penalty, but massive global outcries may have saved their lives.

Of course, the U.S.-subsidized persecution has not gone unnoticed. Some American officials have even complained. “We cannot justify taxpayer dollars going to a government that allows the same restrictions on basic human rights that existed under the Taliban,” charged Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) in a letter to then-U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl W. Eikenberry. So far, however, it appears that little has changed.

Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi was brutal to opponents, but his regime was largely secular in nature. The vast majority of his victims — especially in recent years — were hardline Islamic extremists seeking to overthrow his government and install a theocracy. The notorious al-Qaeda affiliate known as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), for example, was a top enemy of Gadhafi and, until recently, the U.S. government.

As in most Islamic-dominated societies, Christians did face restrictions. Evangelizing to Muslims, for example, was mostly prohibited. But Gadhafi was not normally openly hostile to the more than 100,000 Christian faithful throughout the nation. In fact, he was actually on very friendly terms with the leader of Coptic Christianity, whom he offered an award in 2003. The tyrant even gave Copts in Libya buildings to use as churches — for free.    

Then the war came. The coalition of “rebel” leadership working with Western forces to bring about “regime change” was made up of senior al-Qaeda personnel associated with the LIFG, former Gadhafi officials, members of the Muslim Brotherhood, and other radicals — more than a few of whom publicly boasted of having battled American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. government knew, but helped arm and train them anyway.

As the conflict grew, Christians promptly fled the nation en masse, fearing the worst. A few months into the conflict, Sylvester Magro, the Catholic bishop of Benghazi, told Reuters that his usual flock of around 10,000 had been reduced to a few hundred. A Coptic priest said his congregation declined from more than 1,000 to about 40. It remains unclear how many might return.

But thousands of black Christians and members of other non-Muslim communities — mostly migrant workers — were trapped inside Libya between the warring factions. And they paid dearly. Observers called the persecution of blacks “ethnic cleansing” and even “genocide.” Thousands faced rape, torture, and execution. More recently, footage emerged of blacks in a cage being forced to eat flags as Libyan Islamists taunted them. After the U.S. government- and NATO-backed rebels took over, the al-Qaeda flag even flew over the rebel headquarters in Benghazi. 

Meanwhile, as analysts warned, the war on Libya also offered unprecedented amounts of military weaponry to al-Qaeda and assorted radical Islamists — missiles, machine guns, and much more. And now, according to officials and reports, those heavy weapons are being turned on Christians and others throughout the region.

For now, the situation in Libya remains highly uncertain and volatile. While the “new” Libya — if the Western-backed regime manages to cling to power amidst ongoing chaos and battles — will be governed by strict sharia law, senior officials have promised to respect minorities. Whether that will be the case, however, is still unclear. Most analysts don’t believe it.

And so far, the trend is less than encouraging. As rebels marched into Tripoli, for example, Saint George’s Church — the oldest Orthodox church in North Africa, dating back to 1647 — was ransacked and desecrated. Meanwhile, Christians who imported Christian literature were imprisoned. And in March, heavily armed Islamists desecrated the Christian graves of fallen Italian and British World War II veterans in Benghazi, smashing crosses and headstones with a sledge hammer. “This is a grave of a Christian,” one of the men says in a video of the incident posted online. The new regime apologized, but around the world, people were outraged. 

Consider, too, that the new Libyan government is pursuing “integration” with the neighboring regime in Sudan, officially designated by the U.S. State Department as a “state-sponsor” of terror. (Ironically, the U.S. government is also supplying aid and training to that regime’s “security” apparatus.) The brutal socialist-Islamic dictatorship in Sudan, led by mass-murderer and indicted war criminal Omar Al-Bashir, has reportedly massacred millions of people — mostly Christians and members of various animist sects. In March, the regime also announced that it was expelling between 500,000 and 700,000 Christians from the nation by stripping them of their citizenship.

Christianity has existed in Egypt for almost 2,000 years. And today, Coptic Christians represent about 10 percent of the nation’s population. But for the ancient minority community, recent developments have hardly been positive. In fact, hundreds of thousands of Copts have already been forced to flee their homes as mob violence and state-sponsored persecution continue to grow.

Despite the general brutality of Hosni Mubarak, he was a close U.S. ally for decades before he was forced to step down by Western establishment-backed protests and, eventually, President Obama’s demands. “Change must take place,” Obama said. “My belief is that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now.”

But unlike the nation’s new U.S.-sponsored rulers, the former tyrant at least tried to protect the Coptic community from radical Islamist terror. Perpetrators were punished, and violence against minorities was not tolerated. 

Today, all that has changed. The military junta now in charge, rather than protecting Christians, is actually killing them and allowing them to be killed. After a wave of savage terror attacks against Copts and their churches rocked the nation, the new regime refused to take action. So Christians decided to protest the attacks and the lack of protection offered by authorities.

Activists marched to the state-run TV station in Cairo, chanting and demanding reforms. Instead of protection, however, the military regime responded with brute force. “Security” forces mowed down hundreds of Christian protesters with guns and tanks, killing dozens and injuring hundreds more. “The Copts are being persecuted by the state,” priest Sila Abd al-Nour was quoted as saying during a ceremony mourning the victims.

And again, the U.S. government — which sends over a billion in “security” assistance to Egypt every year, and will continue to do so despite recent developments — knows very well what is going on. “Since February 11 [2011, when Hosni Mubarak stepped down], military and security forces have reportedly used excessive force and live ammunition in targeting Christian places of worship and Christian demonstrators,” noted the USCIRF’s report last year.

Of course, Egypt is an entirely different situation than Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. But while U.S. armed forces did not participate directly in the removal of America’s former ally, the federal government is known to have played a large role in his ouster. American diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks show that the U.S. embassy in Cairo was well aware of the"regime change" operation being planned, and even provided key training and support for its leaders at taxpayer expense. When some of the "activists" were arrested by the Mubarak regime, American officials demanded they be set free. And, according to Egyptian prosecutors, an assortment of U.S. government-funded “Non-Governmental Organizations” (NGOs) continued stirring up the unrest even after the “revolution” succeeded.

So-called “pro-democracy” groups funded by American taxpayers — the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and Freedom House — were very active in Cairo until Egyptian authorities finally cracked down. “The United States and Israel could not create a state of chaos and work to maintain it in Egypt directly, so they used direct funding to organizations, especially American, as a means of implementing these goals,” noted Egyptian Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Aboul Naga in official testimony about the criminal charges against the groups’ employees.

But even if the tax-funded “NGOs” are taken at their word and were simply “promoting democracy,” as they claim, the interference, aside from being unconstitutional, is considered by some analysts to be a travesty. Consider the recent elections: The Muslim Brotherhood and an even more radical Islamist party dominated, taking control of more than 70 percent of the seats in Parliament.

Tunisia suffered a similar fate. And while the Islamist groups surging to power in the so-called “Arab Spring” claim they will support the individual rights of minorities, very few observers are convinced. Islamic law will almost certainly become the new law of the land. And U.S. taxpayers will foot the bill. The Egyptian regime alone is slated to receive about $1.5 billion this year.

Incredibly, despite the unprecedented trail of death and destruction unleashed by recent U.S. government intervention overseas, President Obama, speaking before the UN General Assembly in September, declared that more UN-led wars were needed to ensure peace. He cited Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan as success stories.

Another Obama-backed UN military adventure, while much less well-known around the world, was also cited by the President as a model to emulate in the future: the violent overthrow of Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo last year by international forces and local partner militias. “The world refused to look the other way,” Obama declared, mistakenly claiming that Gbagbo had lost the election. “The [UN] Security Council, led by the United States, Nigeria, and France, came together to support the will of the people.”

The reality of the “regime change” operation, of course, bears little resemblance to the picture painted by Obama. Vote fraud and ballot-box stuffing resulted in the nation’s Constitutional Council declaring incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo the election winner. And that was supposed to be the final word, at least according to Ivorian law.

But instead of respecting the nation’s constitutional system, Obama, France, and the UN decided to invade. Partnering with local Muslim militias, international forces dropped bombs and marched to the capital to arrest President Gbagbo, a Christian — slaughtering and raping tens of thousands of Christians along the way. Many fleeing Christians were hacked to death with machetes. U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) called the UN- and Obama-backed campaign “a reign of terror.” 

The international coalition and its militias on the ground then installed a Muslim central banker named Alassane Ouattara as the Ivory Coast’s new ruler. But despite the impression given by Obama in his speech, critics say the campaign was an illegitimate and bloody disaster that should never have happened. But it will not be the last. During Obama’s UN speech, he praised the wars and demanded more international military intervention. The two countries in the crosshairs now: Iran and Syria.

After decades of U.S. meddling in Iran that included a CIA-orchestrated coup d’├ętat and variously backing both sides during the Iran-Iraq war (including giving Hussein WMDs and facilitating secret illegal weapons sales to the Iranian regime), Western powers are at it again. There is already a covert war going on against Iran that involves the use of terror and assassinations. But much of the Western-backed dirty work is being carried out by the officially designated “foreign terrorist organization” known as the -Mujahedin-e Khalq, an Islamo-Marxist group that has murdered more than a few senior American military officials and countless civilians.

Christians (at least those who did not convert from Islam) and Jews in Iran are currently allowed to worship relatively freely. But if Western “regime change” through overt military force does arrive, that would almost certainly change. There are currently almost 500,000 Christians in Iran, and experts say a Western invasion or military campaign would — like it did in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya — put them in grave jeopardy.

In Syria, the Western-backed “regime change” campaign is already underway, too. Indeed, the situation there bears striking resemblances to some elements of the U.S. campaigns in Iraq and Libya. As in Iraq before the American invasion, the Socialist Ba’th Party rules over Syria with an iron fist. But Christians in Syria are better off than almost anywhere in the region, often serving in top government jobs, from Ambassadors to senior law--enforcement officials. Despite the ongoing strife and relatively new wave of Islamist attacks on Christians, Syria remains, according to Christian leaders and analysts, one of the final refuges of Christianity in the region.

“Syria has been very much a safe haven for Christians in the Middle East, one of the few Arab countries where they were treated with respect and had equality with the Muslim majority. Syria also has a history of welcoming in persecuted Christians from other countries,” noted Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, international director of the Barnabas Fund, a non-profit group that supports persecuted and oppressed Christians. “But I greatly fear that within the near future we will see a new Iraq developing in Syria.”

Christians who fled in droves to Syria from Iraq in the wake of the U.S. invasion are now faced with the prospect of death and persecution there as Western governments, led by the Obama administration, join forces with al-Qaeda to oust Assad in a scenario reminiscent of the underhanded war on Libya. The Western and Islamist alliance, along with the Turkish regime —  which is becoming increasingly Islamist as it continues to deny its mass murder of Christians over the last century — have been working with the so-called “Syrian National Council,” a coalition of opposition groups that is largely dominated by the Marxist-inspired Muslim Brotherhood and other extremists. And Christians throughout Syria fear that, if Assad falls, Islamists will take over, and Christianity will be brutally wiped out there, too.  

Refugees and Reason
Even as U.S. policies continue to lead to massacres of Christian communities throughout the Middle East, members of those communities are having a difficult time escaping the destruction. “Christians are being refused refugee status and face persecution and many times certain death for their religious beliefs under ... sharia, while whole Muslim communities are entering the US by the tens of thousands per month despite the fact that they face no religious persecution,” noted Pamela Geller, executive director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative and of Stop Islamization of America.

But how could the situation have become so dire? While not all analysts agree, at the very least, it has become clear that the fate of Christians and Christianity is low on the U.S. government’s agenda. And without an outcry, that is unlikely to change.

“Fundamentally, United States policies in the Middle East have never placed a significant priority on the conditions of indigenous Christians or the threats they have been up against just for being Christian. There is an ingrained culture in Washington’s foreign policy establishment that prefers to avoid addressing the existential phobias of the region’s Christians,” noted author Habib Malik, a professor of history and cultural studies at the Lebanese American University. “These beleaguered Christian communities have become marginalized in American strategic thinking and hence expendable next to larger and more pressing economic, political, and security interests.”

But according to other experts, the fact that U.S. foreign policy is highly detrimental to Christians around the world should come as no surprise. After all, this is the same government that, along with its partners in the media, has been relentlessly seeking to eliminate all vestiges of Christianity from public life in America.

“Our government’s policies in the Middle East are a reflection of our government’s policies at home. The war on Christianity in public life here at home in the schools and courthouses is manifested in the Middle East with the destruction of Christianity in the nations where we have been interfering,” said CEO Art Thompson of The John Birch Society, citing Iraq, Egypt, Libya, and other nations. But the continuing destruction of Christians and Christian culture is often impelled by forces beyond a particular U.S. administration, even beyond the U.S. government.

“Likewise, the domestic policies of people in the federal government who are connected to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) moving us toward domestic socialism are reflected in the Middle East with CFR-connected organizations financed by the federal government interfering in Middle Eastern politics with disastrous results, with Egypt being the prime example,” Thompson added. “The rise of militant Islam is nothing more than a rise of socialism under a different title.”

“I do not believe that our fighting men and women had this in mind when they committed themselves to combat,” noted Thompson. “Instead of freedom, the aftermath is totalitarianism and less security for the people of all religions.” Indeed, polls show U.S. troops are quickly losing confidence in Obama and the wars.

As predicted by innumerable experts, imposing “democracy” in Muslim-majority countries has been a disaster for Christians. Asked for an example of U.S. foreign policy benefiting Christians, a senior official with the USCIRF could not name one. Christianity has managed to survive in the Middle East for 2,000 years without U.S. government intervention. But if current trends continue, the religion of Christ could very well be eradicated in the region of its birth within the next few decades. And unfortunately, America will bear at least part of the responsibility.