Vietnam Wants Arms Embargo Lifted
Vietnam wants the U.S. to lift fully an embargo on arms sales that was eased last year, but Washington is calling for more progress by the communist-governed nation on improving human rights, their respective ambassadors said Tuesday.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the resumption of diplomatic relations between the former enemies. Vietnam says an end to the embargo, which was partially lifted last October to help improve Vietnam’s maritime security, would show relations are fully normalized.
“It has political symbolism,” Ambassador Pham Quang Vinh told the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.
The U.S. and Vietnam have deepened ties as they find common cause in countering a rising China. Vietnam is also among 12 nations negotiating a U.S.-backed trans-Pacific trade pact that Washington wants to finalize this year to help boost exports to Asia.
The U.S., however, has voiced concern about Russia refueling military planes at the Vietnamese base at Cam Ranh Bay. U.S. Ambassador Ted Osius blamed Russia for using its arrangement with Vietnam for “provocative” actions that could raise regional tensions.
Feds Indict Man for Mistakes on Discontinued Forms
In 2008, the U.S. Census Bureau discontinued the Shipper’s Export Declaration for the Automated Export System. Despite this fact, the U.S. Justice Department indicted a California man, Pavel Flider, and his company, Trident International, for “false and misleading export information… in an SED” with respect to fifteen exports made between 2011 and 2013, long after said “SED” had been definitively retired.
Because the statements on the discontinued form were false, DOJ charged him with violating the anti-smuggling statute, 18 U.S.C. § 554, which covers any export made “contrary to any law or regulation of the United States.” Despite attempting to file the correct (albeit, discontinued) documents, the rule violation turned the defendant into a smuggler based upon his “false statement” in an SED.
ATF Backs Off M855 Ammunition Prohibition
Foreign (and many American) readers may be confused by the ATF attempt to ban M855 5.56mm ammunition. Further discussion on this subject can be found in this month’s Legal Affairs article.
Canadian Government to Pay $10Mil for Erroneous Prosecution
The Canadian Federal Government has agreed to pay a Canadian businessman, Steve de Jaray, more than $10 million to compensate him for damages caused to him by the government’s erroneous prosecution in which it charged de Jaray with illegal exports of items that were not in fact export controlled.
The case began in 2008 when de Jaray’s company, Apex Micro Electronics, shipped microchips used in flat screen televisions and video games to Hong Kong. Canadian customs flagged the items as suspicious. In February 2009, Canadian Mounties and other officials raided de Jaray’s home and office. According to de Jaray, the raid (and subsequent false prosecution) caused him to lose his business and ultimately his house. Experts hired by de Jaray determined that the microchips were not export-controlled. Canada stayed, then ultimately dropped, the prosecution.
Interestingly, and not entirely surprisingly, it appears that there are some U.S. fingerprints on the prosecution. Lawyers for de Jaray allege, citing a cable released by WikiLeaks, that just months before de Jaray’s goods were seized, U.S. officials, including a high official from the State Department’s Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs, chided the Canadians for their poor export enforcement records and insisted that certain trade concessions might be withheld if the Canadians did not start following the U.S. example and throw more people in jail for export violations. Further online comments allegedly from de Jaray allege that the prosecution was sought in exchange for US/Canada trade concessions.
UN Urged to end Libya Arms Embargo
Libya has urged the UN Security Council to approve a request for military purchases as it struggles to combat Islamic State extremists and protect its oil fields. The internationally-recognized government, one of two bodies that claims to rule troubled Libya, has asked the council’s sanctions committee to grant an exemption to an arms embargo and allow it to beef up its air force.
“The leadership of the Libyan army has submitted specific requests for exemptions from the arms embargo to the sanctions committee,” Libyan Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi told the 15-member council. “These requests relate to reinforcing the ability of the Libyan air force so that it may be able to monitor Libya’s territory and borders, and prevent the terrorists from reaching oil fields and oil facilities, so that it can protect the fortune and wealth of the country,” he said.
The move came as Libya declared force majeure on 11 of its oilfields due to the deteriorating security situation, the state-run National Oil Corporation said in a statement on its website.
The oil assets covered by the declaration included Mabrouk and Bahi, which security officials said were overrun by Islamist militants earlier this week after security forces guarding the installations were forced to retreat.
According to a document from the UN security council’s sanctions committee, Libya is seeking to purchase 14 MiG fighter jets, seven helicopters, 150 tanks, 150 armed personnel carriers mounted with machine guns, 10,000 grenade launchers, along with ammunition and mortars from defense contractors from Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Serbia.