Weekly Snapshot
September 30th – October 6th

1. Test sight inspectors in North Korea

During a high-level meeting between Kim Jong Un and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, it was agreed that the United States would send test sight inspectors to the dismantled Punggye-Ri nuclear test site. This is a positive sign the peace talks are beginning to get back on track. For a long time, it looked as if the peace talks were all but dead. North Korea was canceling meetings, and there was intelligence they were continuing to upgrade their nuclear sites, all signs they were not ready for peace. However, with this renewed sense of cooperation, things appear to be looking up.

This is of course if North Korea follows through on their word. As of yet, there is still no tangible date or time in which inspectors are set to go into the site, and it is unclear what kind of access they will be given once there. Another problem is that Punggye-Ri is just one of several test sites that North Korea has. Even with inspection of Punggye-RI, it will be hard to tell what the true capabilities of North Korea are, and if they are truly trying to dismantle their nuclear problem. Conservatives need to always remember that fundamentally North Korea is a totalitarian communist dictatorship at war with America and its values.

2. Iran lawmakers pass a law to stop terrorist funding

In a contentious vote, Iran has decided to stop its funding of terrorist organizations around the world. This move comes after extreme pressure from the United States on both Iran and its European allies who trade with Iran. Iran’s lawmakers are hoping this measure will help take the ammunition away from the United States by making the saying “Iran is the biggest state sponsor of terrorism” false.

This vote seems good on the surface, but there are several contingencies that go along with such a bill. Such as, what does Iran classify as a terrorist organization? The age-old debate about what is the true definition of terrorism may come back into play. Iran does not necessarily see Hezbollah as a terrorist group and may wish to continue support for them (as Iran is the one who created them). The second factor is that the vote only passed 143 – 120. That means 120 people in the Iranian government still see it fitting that they support terrorism. This indicates a clear support for terrorism among the elite. It is therefore hard to believe that Iran will actually give up their support efforts for terrorist groups around the world. It would be hard to imagine that this vote is anything but a sham.

3. Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development (BUILD) act

The US Senate has just past the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development act, commonly known as the BUILD act. This act consolidates all US overseas development spending, such as from the Overseas Private Investment Corp (OPIC), and puts them all under one new agency, the US International Development Financing Corp. This new agency will give investments to foreign powers for projects such as railways, ports and other infrastructure projects. This is all in order to combat China’s overseas investment initiatives.

China has been expanding their overseas spending while capitalizing on poor countries. China gives loans (that they know the counties cannot pay), and then reclaims the property when they default on the loans. This means China is gaining access to ports, railroads, and power plants all over the world, leaving countries bankrupt and without control of these vital infrastructure assets. The United States is looking to change all of this.

By consolidating its overseas spending, the United States can make this process more efficient and give better loans for these projects. They are educating countries about China’s “debt trap,” and giving them a better way to finance these projects. It is also a way for the US treasury to make money, as these loans will be paid back and the new agency would have an equity stake in the project as opposed to just simply lending them money.

The BUILD act has already passed both houses of Congress and is set to go before president Trump for signing sometime this week.