US warship sails in Sea of Japan waters claimed by Russia

A U.S. Navy warship sailed in waters claimed by Russia in the Sea of Japan on Wednesday as tensions increase over the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from a decades-old arms control treaty. A spokesperson for the U.S. Pacific Fleet says the guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell sailed “in the vicinity of” Peter the Great Bay, a … Continue reading “US warship sails in Sea of Japan waters claimed by Russia”

A U.S. Navy warship sailed in waters claimed by Russia in the Sea of Japan on Wednesday as tensions increase over the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from a decades-old arms control treaty.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Pacific Fleet says the guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell sailed “in the vicinity of” Peter the Great Bay, a body of water off the Russian port city of Vladivostok, “to challenge Russia's excessive maritime claims and uphold the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea enjoyed by the United States and other nations.”

Vladivostok, in Russia's far southeast, is home to the country’s Pacific Fleet. The last time the U.S. Navy sailed in the area was 1987, the same year the U.S. signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. will suspend its obligations under the treaty in 60 days, and he accused Russia of "cheating" on the deal.

The U.S. has shared intelligence evidence with its NATO allies that it says shows that Russia's new SSC-8 ground-fired cruise missile could give Moscow the ability to launch a nuclear strike in Europe with little or no notice. Russia has denied the accusations.

In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Moscow would walk away from the treaty if the U.S. did the same.

The U.S. Navy is also preparing to send a warship into the Black Sea for the first time in a month to shore up support to Ukraine after Russian forces seized three Ukrainian vessels and 24 sailors aboard on Nov. 25.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lucas Tomlinson is the Pentagon and State Department producer for Fox News Channel. You can follow him on Twitter: @LucasFoxNews

Pompeo says Iran tested ballistic missile, in violation of UN resolution

The Trump administration on Saturday accused Iran of test-firing a medium-range ballistic missile, with the capability to strike parts of Europe and the Middle East — a move the U.S. says is in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution.

Secretary Mike Pompeo said in a statement that Iran had fired the missile, capable of carrying multiple warheads, and it was in violation of U.N. Security Council resolution 2231 — which calls on Iran to refrain from  “any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

Resolution 2231 was the Security Council’s endorsement of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, from which the Trump administration withdrew the U.S. from in May.

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“As we have been warning for some time, Iran’s missile testing and missile proliferation is growing,” Pompeo said in a statement. “We are accumulating risk of escalation in the region if we fail to restore deterrence. We condemn these activities, and call upon Iran to cease immediately all activities related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”

The Trump administration has been continually pointing to “malign activities” by the Iranian regime that they say violates the Iran deal — which Trump has repeatedly described as one of the worst deals “ever made” — and other international agreements.

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On Thursday, the administration accused Iran of violating a U.N. ban on arms exports by sending rockets and other weapons to rebels in Afghanistan and Yemen, and showed weapons and fragments seized that it said provided “irrefutable evidence” that Iran’s activity is getting worse in the region.

"It's important for all nations to understand that this is a global threat that requires a global response," Brian Hook, the U.S. special representative for Iran, told reporters. "it would be an act of negligence for us to be in possession of these arms and not to publicize it."

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The Trump administration has reimposed economic sanctions on the regime, with sanctions on crude oil exports re-imposed last month. President Trump, at a U.N. Security Council meeting in September, warned that the U.S. "will pursue additional sanctions, tougher than ever before, to counter the entire range of Iran's malign conduct."

Pompeo announced in October that the U.S. was terminating a 1955 treaty with Iran after the U.N.'s International Court of Justice used it to order to the U.S. to ease some of its economic sanctions on the regime."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Adam Shaw is a reporter covering U.S. and European politics for Fox News.. He can be reached here.

Graham threatens to withhold spending bill vote until Senate gets CIA briefing on Khashoggi

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Wednesday that he is willing to hold up Congress' agenda — including a spending bill meant to avert a partial government shutdown — until the Senate hears from the CIA about the murder of Saudi activist Jamal Khashoggi.

"I'm not going to be denied the ability to be briefed by the CIA," Graham told reporters. "Anything that you need me for to get out of town, I ain't doing it until we hear from the CIA."

Senators were briefed about Khashoggi's death by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis. But Graham said the briefing was "inadequate" because no one from the CIA attended. U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, must have at least known of the plot, the CIA's findings have not been made public and President Trump has equivocated over who was to blame.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. (AP)

"The question for me is whether or not the CIA supports the conclusion with a high degree of confidence that the crown prince was complicit in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi," Graham said.

Both Pompeo and Mattis said following the briefing that there was no direct evidence connecting the crown prince, known informally as "MBS," with Khashoggi's death. Both men also urged senators to vote against a resolution ending support for U.S. backing of Saudi-led forces in Yemen's civil war.

The White House issued a veto threat for that resolution, even as Pompeo and Mattis spoke with the senators. Emerging from the briefing, Pompeo said the vote would be "poorly timed" as diplomatic efforts to end the conflict were underway. In the briefing, the secretary of state argued that the war in Yemen would be "a hell of a lot worse" if the United States were not involved.

Hours later, the Senate voted 63-37 to advance the resolution. Graham initially voted against the measure, but then changed his mind and voted for it. After Graham switched his vote, he was seen shaking hands with Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

"I changed my mind [about the vote] because I'm pi–ed," Graham told Fox News outside the Senate chamber. "The way the administration has handled Saudi Arabia has been unacceptable … Yemen is just one part of the puzzle. I think we have a right to be briefed by the CIA. How can I make an informed decision if I don't have access to the intelligence?"

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In a Wall Street Journal op-ed published late Tuesday, Pompeo wrote that Khashoggi's murder "has heightened the Capitol Hill caterwauling and media pile-on. But degrading U.S.-Saudi ties would be a grave mistake for the national security of the U.S. and its allies."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday that "some kind of response" was needed from the United States for the Saudis' role in Khashoggi's gruesome death.

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"What obviously happened, as basically certified by the CIA, is completely abhorrent to everything the United States holds dear and stands for in the world," McConnell said.

Sen Bob Menendez, D-N.J., the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, speculated that CIA Director Gina Haspel didn't attend the briefing because she "would have said with a high degree of confidence that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia was involved in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi."

In response to complaints about Haspel's absence, CIA spokesman Timothy Barrett said: "While Director Haspel did not attend today's Yemen policy briefing, the Agency has already briefed the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Congressional leadership on the totality of the compartmented, classified intelligence and will continue to provide updates on this important matter to policymakers and Congress. The notion that anyone told Director Haspel not to attend today's briefing is false."

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Khashoggi was killed Oct. 2 in what U.S. officials have described as an elaborate plot at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, which he had visited for marriage paperwork.

Trump has said it may never be known who was responsible for the killing, and in public comments — and a long and unusual statement last week — he reinforced the United States' long alliance with the Saudis. Trump has praised a pending arms deal with the kingdom that he says will provide the U.S. with jobs and lucrative payments, though some outside assessments say the economic benefits are exaggerated.

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge, Kristina Biddle and The Associated Press contributed to this report.