‘Time’s up’: Australia urged to join nuclear weapons ban

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, who attended the negotiations in New York, said it was “an incredibly powerful moment”.

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“It’s the large majority of the world states telling the nuclear weapons states that ‘time’s up’, that it’s time things changed,” he said.

More than 120 countries on Friday approved the first-ever treaty to ban nuclear weapons at a UN meeting in New York boycotted by all nuclear-armed nations.

Australia did not play any part in shaping the treaty.

Campaigners against nuclear weapons are urging the Australian government to stop clinging to the belief the country will be protected by the US having weapons of mass destruction.

Doing so sends the wrong signal to countries like North Korea at a time when the world is grappling with the possibility of the hermit nation developing nuclear weapons capable of hitting Australia or the United States, they say.

0:00 Australia developing defences against missile attack Share Australia developing defences against missile attack

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) wants the Turnbull government to sign Australia up to a new treaty to ban nuclear weapons during the United Nations general assembly leaders week in September.

“There are people in Canberra and elsewhere who believe that Australia is protected by US nuclear weapons,” ICAN Asia-Pacific director Tim Wright said.

“If we’re saying nuclear weapons are essential for our security, then how can we say that North Korea shouldn’t rely on nuclear weapons also?

“It’s an incitement to proliferate.”

Senator Ludlam said defusing the situation is the best answer, and criticised G20 members for not using the summit to discuss the issue further.

“I think it could’ve been a great opportunity, but there is no doubt that it was an opportunity squandered.”

The treaty will be open for signatures as of September 20, and will come into force once 50 nations have ratified it.

Mr Wright believes it will be difficult for Australia to resist the clear international movement on the ban for too much longer, citing domestic support for the policy.

Within hours of negotiations concluding, a joint statement from the United States, Britain and France rejecting the treaty was issued.

They said the treaty “offers no solution” to either North Korea, nor to any other security challenges.

Senator Ludlam has described it as misguided.

“The logic in there is hideously flawed”, he said.

“We know we’ve got a steep hill to climb but the alternative is quite literally unthinkable.”

— With AAP

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Iraq declares victory in ‘liberated’ Mosul

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s office said he was in “liberated” Mosul to congratulate “the heroic fighters and the Iraqi people on the achievement of the major victory,” three years after IS declared its self-styled caliphate from the city.

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The fighting did not seem to be completely over, with gunfire and explosions still audible in the city, but Abadi’s arrival had been expected for days as a signal of the formal end of the battle for Mosul.

The victory comes at an enormous cost: much of Iraq’s second city in ruins, thousands dead and wounded, and nearly a million people forced from their homes.

And enormous challenges lie ahead, not just in rebuilding Mosul but in tackling the continued presence elsewhere of IS, which remains a potent force.

Photographs released by his office showed Abadi dressed in a black military uniform and cap, shaking hands with police and army officers.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, center, holds a national flag upon his arrival in Mosul, Iraq.AAP

His office said Abadi held meetings with commanders in Mosul and issued a series of commands on “sustaining victories and eliminating the defeated remnants” of IS, as well as “establishing security and stability in the liberated city.”

Victory for all Iraqis’ 

Iraqi forces celebrated, waving flags and flashing victory signs, after Abadi arrived in the city.

“This victory is for all Iraqis, not just for us,” Mohanned Jassem, a member of the elite Counter-Terrorism Service, told AFP at the police base where Abadi met commanders.

Jassem, who fought in most of the other main battles of the war against IS, said Mosul was the toughest.

“I took part in fighting in Ramadi and Tikrit and Salaheddin and Baiji and Al-Qayara… but the fighting here in (IS’s) stronghold was the most violent,” he said, an Iraqi flag draped over his shoulders.

IS swept across much of Iraq’s Sunni Arab heartland in a lightning offensive in mid-2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” straddling Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

Imposing its strict interpretation of Islamic law, the group committed widespread atrocities and organised or inspired deadly attacks in Iraq, Syria and abroad.

رئيس مجلس الوزراء يتجول وسط المواطنين في الجانب الايسر من الموصل قادما له من الجانب الايمن عبر نهر دجلة ويصل الى مبنى محافظة نينوى. pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/vT77rfz4aM

— PM Media Office (@IraqiPMO) July 9, 2017

A US-led coalition launched military operations against IS in Syria and Iraq in mid-2014, carrying out waves of air strikes against the jihadists and sending advisers to work with local ground forces.

French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country is a key part of the coalition, was among the first world leaders to offer his congratulations.

“Mosul liberated from Daesh,” he tweeted, using an Arabic acronym for IS. “Homage from France to all those, with our troops, who contributed to this victory.”

IS has lost most of the territory it once controlled and after Mosul the coalition is aiming to oust the jihadists from their Syrian stronghold Raqa, which is under assault by US-backed Arab and Kurdish forces.

Iraqi forces launched their campaign to recapture Mosul in October, seizing its eastern side in January and launching the battle for its western part the next month.

But the fight grew tougher when Iraqi forces entered the densely populated Old City on the western bank of the Tigris River that divides the city.

In recent days, security forces have killed jihadists trying to escape their dwindling foothold in Mosul, as Iraqi units fought to retake the last two IS-held areas near the Tigris.

Earlier Sunday Iraq’s Joint Operations Command had said it killed “30 terrorists” trying to escape across the river.

Even in the final days of the battle, thousands of civilians remained trapped inside the Old City and those who fled arrived grief-stricken after losing relatives in jihadist sniper fire and bombardments.

The United Nations said this week that since October around 915,000 residents had fled Mosul, which had a population of two million three years ago.

Not yet ‘the death knell’ 

The recapture of Mosul will not mark the end of the threat posed by IS, which holds territory elsewhere in Iraq and is able to carry out frequent bombings in government-held areas.

In Iraq it holds towns including Tal Afar and Hawijah in the north, as well as a stretch of territory in western Anbar province.

It also continues to hold significant territory in Syria including Raqa, where the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are battling to oust the jihadist group after penetrating its fortified historic centre.

Analysts warned that while the loss of Mosul was a major blow to the jihadists it was not yet a fatal one.

“We should not view the recapture of Mosul as the death knell for IS,” said Patrick Martin, Iraq analyst at the Institute for the Study of War.

“If security forces do not take steps to ensure that gains against IS are sustained for the long-term, then IS could theoretically resurge and recapture urban terrain,” he said.

Related’More to do’

The European Union on Sunday hailed the defeat of IS in Mosul as a “decisive step” in fighting terrorism but called on Iraqis to work together to improve their country.

“The recovery of Mosul from the hands of (IS) marks a decisive step in the campaign to eliminate terrorist control in parts of Iraq and to free its people,” the EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and its aid commissioner Christos Stylianides said in a joint statement.

But they urged Iraqis to pick up the pieces of their country, parts of which were easily overran by IS three years ago.

“It is now essential that a process of return and the re-establishment of trust between communities begins, and that all Iraqis are able to start building a shared future,” they said.

Britain’s Defence Minister Michael Fallon praised Iraq on Sunday for defeating IS in Mosul but warned that more has to be done to combat the jihadists.

0:00 Iraqi troops celebrate as Mosul battle nears end Share Iraqi troops celebrate as Mosul battle nears end

“I congratulate Prime Minister (Haider) Abadi, and the Iraqi forces who have been fighting on the ground with great bravery and care against a brutal opponent,” Fallon said in a statement.

But “there is still more to do” around the city and in the broader region, Fallon said.

“This barbaric group remains dug in west of the Euphrates and clearing operations in and around Mosul will be needed because of the threat from improvised explosive devices,” he added.

IS still controls swathes of western Iraq including much of the desert Anbar province and rival forces, which largely cooperated against the jihadists in Mosul, are expected to compete for a share of the spoils.

No contingency plan in place for Slater

Queensland captain Cameron Smith has all but confirmed Billy Slater will play in Wednesday night’s State of Origin decider at Suncorp Stadium.

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And the Maroons leader has given his strongest hint yet that he believed the veteran fullback would play on in 2018.

Smith said no contingency plan was in place for Slater after the 34-year-old pulled up well from rolling his ankle at training on their Gold Coast camp on Sunday.

The veteran of 41 Origins said Slater would be given until the last minute to prove his fitness for what may be his final game for Queensland and would not be required to take part in Tuesday’s captain’s run.

Off contract Melbourne No.1 Slater is yet to confirm whether he will play on in 2018 ahead of his 29th Origin.

“I would much rather prefer him being ready for Wednesday than him being forced into a captain’s run,” Smith said of Slater.

“But I saw him this morning and he is walking around. He said he had done a few hops on the ankle – I think he will be right to play.

“He put a scare through the camp yesterday but seeing how good it has pulled up he is confident of playing on Wednesday.”

Slater and Queensland halfback Cooper Cronk are expected to make an announcement on their Origin future after Queensland attempt to seal their 11th series win in 12 years.

“Hopefully we’ll find out after this series is done where Cooper’s at for next year, Bill’s a bit different,” Smith said.

“I think he’s very keen to play on it’s just whether he feels his body’s up to it.

Slater’s injury looked set to spark a back-line reshuffle that slotted five-eighth Cameron Munster to No.1 and fellow debutant Ben Hunt from the bench to pivot.

However, Smith said Queensland coach Kevin Walters was sticking with the Maroons playing as per program on Wednesday night.

Walters on Monday echoed Smith’s confidence about Slater.

“I think he got more of a scare than anything,” Walters told Sky Sports Radio on Monday of Slater’s incident.

“It was that ankle he injured against the Sharks about a month ago and just maybe tore a bit more scar tissue off there or something.

“If he’s in some sort of doubt, yeah, we’ll have to bring someone. But I think Bill’s going to be okay to be honest.”

Walters confirmed he’d given star NRL playmakers Munster and Michael Morgan permission to rotate between five-eighth and centre during game three.

“They’ve got a licence to do that if they feel that’s necessary. But we’re comfortable with Cameron (at five-eighth),” Walters said.

Trump says time to work ‘constructively’ with Russia

While ruling out easing sanctions so long as the two countries remain at odds over Syria and Ukraine, Trump said it was time for US-Russia relations to move forward, even though members of his own party said he should be mulling new punishments.

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Two days after his first face-to-face talks with his Russian counterpart, Trump said he had confronted Putin when they met in Germany over evidence from the intelligence agencies that Moscow meddled in the US elections.

Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2017

“I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election,” he said of Friday’s meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg. “He vehemently denied it. I’ve already given my opinion…..”

But after saying that he had called out Putin over the election, Trump said they could work together on some areas, including on Syria, where he said a ceasefire which began on Sunday would “save lives.”

I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election. He vehemently denied it. I’ve already given my opinion…..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2017

“Now it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!”

In a series of early-morning tweets on his return from Europe, Trump said he and Putin had talked about the idea of setting up what he called “an impenetrable cyber security unit” to prevent hacking in future elections.

‘Dumb idea’ 

But senior Republican senators, including former presidential candidate John McCain, poured scorn on the idea.

Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate’s armed services committee, said on NBC that the cyber idea was “not the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, but it’s pretty close.”

0:00 US Republican Senator Linsey Graham on Trump-Putin cyber unit Share US Republican Senator Linsey Graham on Trump-Putin cyber unit

Voice dripping with sarcasm, McCain told a CBS interviewer that he was “sure that Vladimir Putin could be of enormous assistance in that effort, since he’s doing the hacking.”

The US and Russian sides have issued sharply conflicting accounts of Friday’s meeting, with Putin saying on Saturday that Trump had been “satisfied” by his denials of any Russian interference in the polls.

The US president has previously equivocated over whether Russia did try to tilt the outcome of last November’s election contest against Hillary Clinton in his favor, amid an investigation into whether members of Trump’s campaign team actively colluded with Moscow.

So his public assessment that Russia did meddle has triggered calls to bring in more sanctions.

“So far they have not paid a single price for that,” McCain said.

Moscow has warned that a program of existing sanctions, which were mainly imposed over Russia’s annexation of Crimea in Ukraine, threatens their whole relationship.

Asked on Sunday whether new sanctions were in the pipeline, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told ABC television: “We have sanctions that are already on the table and we expect to enforce those sanctions.”

Mnuchin also insisted that Russia and the US could work together on cyber security.

‘Strategic alliance’ 

“What we want to make sure is that we coordinate with Russia, that we’re focused on cyber security together, that we make sure that they never interfere in any democratic elections,” he said.

“This is like any other strategic alliance, whether we’re doing military exercises with our allies or anything else. This is about having capabilities to make sure we both fight cyber (crime) together, which I think is a very significant accomplishment for President Trump.”

Syria has been a particular source of friction between the two countries, as Russia is a close ally of President Bashar al-Assad. 

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Moscow was furious when the Trump administration launched a cruise missile strike against Syrian forces in April, in retaliation for what Washington said was a chemical weapons attack by Assad’s regime against civilians.

While saying sanctions were not discussed at the meeting with Putin, Trump indicated that Moscow could not expect any relief “until the Ukrainian & Syrian problems are solved.”

But while the brokering of a Syria ceasefire by the two countries — along with Jordan — means that one area of friction could be eased, the differences over Ukraine remain stark. 

Speaking on a visit to Ukraine, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged Russia to take action to ease the bloody separatist conflict in the country’s east, which Kiev and the West believe is being fueled by Moscow.

“It is necessary for Russia to take the first step to de-escalate the situation in eastern Ukraine,” Tillerson said as he made his first visit as Washington’s top diplomat to Kiev.

Schauffele British Open-bound after Greenbrier victory

He described the victory as life-changing after carding a closing 67 to finish at 14-under-par 266, edging fellow American Robert Streb by one stroke.

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Another American, Jamie Lovemark, and Colombian third round leader Sebastian Munoz finished two behind.

All four players qualified for the British Open at Royal Birkdale in two weeks.

Davis Love, 53, seeking to became the oldest winner on tour, faded with a 75 after starting the day four strokes off the pace.

For much of the back nine on Sunday it looked like nobody wanted to win, as the four contenders, with only one victory between them on tour, stumbled one after another, before Schauffele came through with two birdies in the final three holes for his maiden triumph.

Schauffele, 23, said his self-belief was boosted by a tie for fifth at the U.S. Open three weeks ago.

“The U.S. Open was a huge moment in my career,” he told reporters. “It kind of gave me the confidence and allowed me to play and win this week.”

Not that he did not have his nervous moments on Sunday in what was only his 23rd start on tour.

“I felt very nervous kind of late in the round. I tried to back to the basics, close my eyes and take some deep breaths.”

Schauffele comes from strong sporting stock. His father Stefan was a promising decathlete whose international dreams were dashed when he suffered a serious eye injury in a car crash.

Stefan subsequently moved to the United States and married a woman from Taiwan, the couple settling in southern California.

Schauffele acknowledged the role of his father in his development.

“He kind of put me on some plan of his and I would say we’re trending,” he said.

“It’s slowly sinking in. I had a couple minutes to myself in the locker room, but it’s just been an incredible feeling and it’s honestly just a dream come true.”

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Ken Ferris/Peter Rutherford)