Ashish Kumar Sen

  • With One Small Step, Trump Makes History in North Korea

    Trump, Kim agree to restart nuclear negotiations

    On June 30, Donald J. Trump became the first US president to set foot in North Korea. Trump made history when stepped across a low concrete marker accompanied by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and walked a few steps into the North. The two leaders agreed to have their negotiators resume an effort to reach what has so far been an elusive nuclear deal.

    “The United States, under the Trump administration, has disrupted the longstanding, but failing, US policies of past administrations by seeking to build trust from the top down,” said Barry Pavel, senior vice president, Arnold Kanter chair, and director of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security.

    “This was helpful for reducing the near-term threat, but so far it is unclear whether it will help to achieve the denuclearization that we seek,” said Pavel. “How much trust building will be required before North Korea begins

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  • Trump, Xi Pause US-China Trade War

    Trump lifts some restrictions on Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei

    US President Donald J. Trump agreed on June 29 to lift some restrictions on Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and delay imposing new tariffs on Chinese goods. These concessions were announced following a meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, at which the two leaders agreed to restart trade negotiations between their countries.

    “Frankly, this was all fairly predictable,” said Mark Linscott, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center and a former assistant US trade representative (USTR) for South and Central Asian Affairs.

    “The two sides had already made progress before and intensifying the war is in neither side’s interest,” Linscott said, adding, “At this point, it seems a lot easier to impose tariffs than to lift them, so avoiding new ones makes a lot of sense, particularly to allow

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  • Trump Sanctions Iran’s Supreme Leader

    US President Donald J. Trump on June 24 signed an executive order that he said would place “hard-hitting” sanctions on Iran’s supreme leader.


    “The Supreme Leader of Iran is one who ultimately is responsible for the hostile conduct of the regime. He’s respected within his country.  His office oversees the regime’s most brutal instruments, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” Trump said before signing the order in the White House. “These measures represent a strong and proportionate response to Iran’s increasingly provocative actions,” he added.

    The executive order allows US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to impose sanctions on officials appointed by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and those who provide material support to his office. “These sanctions will deny Iran’s leadership access to financial resources,

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  • Open Source Investigators Set Their Sights on Saudi Airstrikes in Yemen

    Bellingcat and the Global Legal Action Network are using open source information to investigate airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition on civilian targets and critical infrastructure in Yemen.

    The goal of this project is to investigate “a hundred airstrikes as part of legal cases to prevent arms exports to Saudi Arabia,” said Eliot Higgins, the founder of Bellingcat, an open source investigation website. In remarks at the Atlantic Council’s 360 O/S disinformation conference in London on June 21, Higgins used videos—most relying on satellite imagery—to explain the work his team of researchers has been doing to verify the credibility of information obtained from conflict zones around the world.


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  • Open Source Information as a Tool in Exposing Authoritarian Regimes

    In April, Norwegian security agents informed Iyad el-Baghdadi that he was the target of a threat emanating from Saudi Arabia. El-Baghdadi believes the threat came from the government of Saudi Arabia, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the crown prince’s righthand man Saud al-Qahtani.


    El-Baghdadi, a prominent Arab activist, is a critic of the Saudi government, much like his late friend, Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018. He took the threat seriously.

    El-Baghdadi says the threats to his life have escalated since his involvement in an investigation into ...
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  • The Importance of Working Together in the Fight Against Disinformation

    A report released last week by the European Commission and the European Union’s diplomatic service said “evidence collected revealed a continued and sustained disinformation activity by Russian sources aiming to suppress turnout and influence voter preferences” during the European parliamentary elections in May. The European analysis said it was too soon to conclude whether these online campaigns had influenced the outcome of the elections.


    The attribution of this disinformation campaign to “Russian sources” is exceptional as the European Union has in the past been cautious about assigning blame for cyberattacks to a foreign country by name.

    But Sasha Havlicek, founding chief executive officer of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, confessed to being “quite surprised by the number of incidences [more than 900] that were quoted in that report.”


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  • Wanted: A Code of Ethics for Open Source Researchers

    As more and more actors start to work with open source information there is an urgent need for a code of ethics to guide decision-making on what tools are used and when, speakers told an audience at the Atlantic Council’s 360/OS conference in London on June 20.


    Alexa Koenig, executive director of the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law and Kate Starbird, director of the ecCOMP Laboratory at the University of Washington, discussed the need for ethical and methodological standards and what these would look like.


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  • ‘Door is Wide Open’ for Negotiations with North Korea, US Envoy Says

    With US-North Korean diplomacy stuck in a ‘holding pattern,’ Stephen Biegun says North Korean negotiators must be empowered to discuss denuclearization

    US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun said at the Atlantic Council in Washington on June 19 that “the door is wide open” for negotiations with North Korea, while admitting that US-North Korean diplomacy has been in a “holding pattern” since the summit between US President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi in February.

    “For both countries, denuclearization sits at the center of this discussion,” Biegun said, adding: “Our expectations have been made quite clear to the North Koreans, but Chairman Kim has also signaled to us during the course of [the Hanoi summit] how important this issue is to him.”


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  • Can Xi’s Visit to North Korea Facilitate US-China Trade Talks?

    Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first state visit to North Korea this week will underscore Beijing’s clout in Pyongyang and, by doing so, Xi may be looking to re-energize a US effort to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and gain leverage in stalled US-China trade negotiations.

    “President Xi recognizes that closer relations with North Korea’s leader will give China additional leverage in its ongoing [trade] dispute with the United States,” said Jamie Metzl, a nonresident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security.


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  • Trump Expected to Announce US Troop Increase in Poland

    But Poland unlikely to get 'Fort Trump,' says the Atlantic Council's Alexander Vershbow

    US troop presence in Poland is likely to be at the top of the agenda when US President Donald J. Trump and his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda, meet at the White House on June 12.

    Pointing to Russian military activity in its neighborhood, the Duda administration has made the case for a permanent US troop presence in Poland at a base Polish officials have suggested they would christen “Fort Trump.” The Polish government has even offered to pay $2 billion to support this base.


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