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US urges allies to comply with UN treaty it has not yet ratified

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ratification The commander of United States military forces in the Pacific has urged the US Senate to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).If it signed, the US would be in a "much stronger position to demand adherence to the rules contained in it," Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III told the US Senate foreign relations committee Friday (Saturday in PHL). He briefed Pentagon reporters afterwards.Locklear said that because the US is not a party to the UNCLOS, "Our challenges are less credible than they might otherwise be."During recent visits of Philippine officials to the US-culminating with the visit of President Aquino this June-the US has urged countries disputing all or parts of the South China Sea to adhere to rules prescribing peaceful resolution of conflicting claims.The UNCLOS treaty was opened for signature in December 1982 and took effect in November 1994, when 60 countries had signed.The Pentagon noted in a news release on the US Department of Defense website that the US, "has not ratified the treaty, but the nation's military leaders have in recent months urged US accession to the agreement."Locklear said he told ...

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US exempts India, South Korea, Turkey and four other countries from Iran oil sanctions

Initially for a 180 day period On 11 June 2012 it was announced by the US Department of State that India, Malaysia, South Korea, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Taiwan have been exempted for a period of 180 days from the provisions of section 1245(d)(1) of the National Defence Authorization Act of 2012 ("NDAA"). The 180 day exemption is renewable upon review. These seven countries are not exempted from any other US sanctions against Iran, other than those in Sec. 1245(d)(1) of the NDAA for 2012.Section 1245 of the NDAA provides:1. For the blocking of all assets found within US jurisdiction belonging to any Iranian financial institution.2. All private financial institutions (US or foreign) that knowingly conduct or facilitate any significant transactions with the Central Bank of Iran, or with any Iranian financial institution which has been designated by the US, are subject to being sanctioned by the U.S. The sanction provided for in the NDAA is that the foreign financial institution will be prohibited from opening or maintaining correspondent accounts with US financial institutions. In other words, they will be shut out of the U.S. financial system.3. Transactions involving the sale of food, medicine or medical devices to ...

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U.S. Efforts To Fight Piracy

Piracy off the coast of Somalia remains a critical issue Piracy off the coast of Somalia remains a critical issue for the United States, the international community, and the global economy, said U.S. Principal Deputy Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Thomas Kelly. Since 2008, Somali pirates have hijacked 175 vessels and attacked at least 445 others. They have kidnapped 3,000 crew members from over 40 countries and are still holding 241 hostages today. They hijacked 27 ships last year and six already this year.Somalia offers pirates nearly ideal conditions.Along the coastline where pirates operate there is little governance and weak institutions provide them with safe haven. Furthermore, Somalia sits along one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.In confronting piracy, the U.S. has pursued an integrated multi-dimensional approach, which has begun to turn the tide on this transnational crime. In 2009, the U.S. helped establish the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia to promote action and coordinate efforts to suppress Somali piracy. It will also be critical to re-establish stability, responsive law enforcement, and effective governance in Somalia.In addition to diplomatic efforts, the U.S. has taken steps to increase security at sea including the Combined Task Force ...

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US military to help Philippines monitor coastal waters

Manila faces an escalating dispute with China The US military said Tuesday it planned to help the Philippines monitor its coastal waters as Manila faces an escalating dispute with China over territorial claims.The Pentagon revised earlier comments and said there was no firm plan to deliver a land-based radar to the Philippines, but that a radar could be part of future assistance."We are in the initial planning stages of assisting the Philippines with a National Coast Watch Center," Major Catherine Wilkinson told AFP.The center is designed "to create an overall picture of what is going on in the Philippines' territorial waters," she said."Right now we are discussing a range of options and no details have been finalized. Radars may be an eventual part of the package but it hasn't been determined yet."The cost and the time line for the project were still being worked out, she said.The Philippines has requested radar, patrol aircraft and naval vessels as it seeks to bolster its position in a row with China over the Scarborough Shoal, which lies near the main Philippine island of Luzon.China claims the area along with virtually all of the South China Sea up to the shores of other Southeast ...

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US to send Navy s most advanced vessel, aircraft to Pacific

Deployment of 60 percent of navy's fleet to the Pacific by 2020 The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet said Monday the Navy will be sending its most advanced vessels and aircraft to the Asia-Pacific region as it builds up its presence by assigning most of its fleet there.Adm. Cecil Haney said a policy recently outlined by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to deploy 60 percent of the Navy's ships fleet to the Pacific by 2020 is about capabilities as well as quantity."It's not just numbers - it's also what those platforms, what those units, bring to the table," Haney told The Associated Press in an interview at his headquarters in Pearl Harbor.Haney cited as an example the Littoral Combat Ship which can operate in shallower waters than other vessels. The U.S. plans to begin deploying one of the ships to Singapore next year.The EA-18G plane - which can jam enemy air defenses and fly faster than the speed of sound - is another. Haney said squadrons of these aircraft would be coming through the region.There's also the Navy's most advanced submarine - the Virginia-class. Several of these subs are based at Pearl Harbor."Yes, it's about having numbers in that 60-40 ...

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Official says Indonesia may shift palm oil exports away from US and EU

Indonesia may give greater priority to Asian, Eastern European and Middle Eastern palm oil buyers Indonesia may give greater priority to Asian, Eastern European and Middle Eastern palm oil buyers because of possible new environmental regulations in the United States and Europe, the Indonesian palm oil association (Gapki) said."We threat (threaten) EU and US to move our product to other regions because of too many non-tariff barriers," said Gapki official Tofan Mahdi.The Southeast Asian palm oil industry failed in late January to meet greenhouse gas saving standards to qualify for the U.S. renewable fuels programme.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said palm oil converted into biofuels in Indonesia and Malaysia cut up to 17 percent of climate warming emissions, falling short of a 20 percent requirement to enter the world's largest energy market.Gapki officials fear U.S. efforts to limit palm oil's uses based on environmental concerns could spread to Europe.Source: Reuters

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U.S. Leadership Needed in Law of the Sea Convention

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta says As the globe's preeminent maritime power, the United States has much to gain in ratifying the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said here today.Panetta spoke at the Law of the Sea Convention forum. Ratifying the treaty, he said, would allow the United States to exert a leadership role in the development and interpretation of the rules that determine legal certainty on the world's oceans.Panetta listed five reasons why the Law of the Sea Convention strengthens U.S. national security."First, as the world's preeminent maritime power, and the country with one of the largest coastlines and extended continental shelf, we have more to gain from accession to the convention than any other country," he said.Right now, the United States has no seat at the table and is unable to help interpret the "rules of the road" on the oceans. Ratifying the convention "would give us the credibility to support and promote the peaceful resolution of disputes within a rules-based order," the secretary said.Panetta's second point is that by joining the convention, the United States would protect its navigational freedoms and global access for military and commercial ships, aircraft, and ...

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US Maritime Officers Call on Congress to Take Action on Insufficient Shipboard Manning

Insufficient Shipboard Manning Fuels Fatigue, Boosts Risks Cuts in manning levels and burgeoning paperwork loads are increasing the risk of maritime accidents worldwide. At a time when carriers have reduced crewing levels, ships' officers are being forced to manage the paperwork load generated by a growing number of government regulations. Representatives of officers aboard U.S.-flag ships are calling on Congress to urgently review the situation and respond to the growing risks it entails for people, the environment, and professional mariners-who are increasingly being held criminally liable for accidents."The criminalization of simple professional errors-often the result of fatigue or excessive workload-is without justification when there is no oversight regarding the sufficiency of personnel available to carry out shipboard responsibilities," says Don Marcus, International Secretary-Treasurer of the Masters, Mates & Pilots (MM&P), which represents professional mariners aboard U.S.-flag ships. "While crews are being reduced, the number of international, federal and state regulations that must be complied with and documented has grown exponentially," he says.Marcus made the remarks in testimony April 26 before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. He spoke on behalf of members of MM&P, the Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association and the American Maritime Officers. Together, ...

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Will the US Become the Worlds Largest Exporter of LNG?

By 2017 the U.S. could be the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas in the world By 2017 the U.S. could be the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas in the world, surpassing leading LNG exporters Qatar and Australia. There is one big "if," however. America can produce more gas, export a surplus, improve the trade deficit, create jobs, generate taxable profits and reduce its dependence on foreign energy if the marketplace is allowed to work and politics doesn't get in the way.In May 2011Cheniere Energy received an Energy Department license to export LNG from its Sabine Pass LNG import terminal in Louisiana. Cheniere subsequently reached long-term deals with the U.K.'sBG Group, Spain's Gas Natural and India's GAIL. Cheniere is targeting operation in 2016 and plans to export up to 730 billion cubic feet of LNG annually, roughly 3% of current U.S. gas production.Sabine Pass originally was built as an import facility to alleviate projected U.S. gas shortages. Shale-gas technology changed that assumption radically. Now Sabine Pass is attractive because it already possesses much of the infrastructure for an export plant: LNG storage tanks, gas-handling facilities and docking terminals. Only a liquefaction plant is needed to convert natural gas into ...

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