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North Korea trying to protect nuclear, missile capabilities: UN

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UNITED NATIONS: North Korea`s nuclear and ballistic missile programs remain intact and the country is working to make sure those capabilities cannot be destroyed by any military strikes, according to a confidential report by UN sanctions monitors.

The report to a 15-member UN Security Council sanctions committee, seen by Reuters, comes ahead of a second planned summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un later this month. They initially met in June 2018 and Kim pledged to work towards denuclearization.

While Trump has hailed “tremendous progress” in his dealings with North Korea, the UN report found that Pyongyang “is using civilian facilities, including airports, for ballistic missile assembly and testing with the goal of effectively preventing `decapitation` strikes” on a smaller number of identified nuclear and missile assembly and manufacturing sites.”

 

The report said it “found evidence of a consistent trend on the part of the DPRK to disperse its assembly, storage and testing locations,” using the abbreviation for North Korea`s official name, the Democratic People`s Republic of Korea.

The North Korean mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the 317-page UN report, which was submitted to Security Council members on Friday.

The UN Security Council has unanimously boosted sanctions on North Korea since 2006 in a bid to choke funding for Pyongyang`s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, banning exports including coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, and capping imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.

“The country continues to defy Security Council resolutions through a massive increase in illegal ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products and coal,” the sanctions monitors found. “These violations render the latest UN sanctions ineffective.”

The monitors said they had evidence of one unprecedented prohibited petroleum product transfer of more than 57,600 barrels, worth more than $5.7 million.

They said the case highlighted “new sanctions evasion techniques that defeated the due diligence efforts of the region`s leading commodity trader, as well as the U.S.
and Singaporean banks that facilitated the fuel payments and a leading UK insurer that provided protection and indemnity cover to one of the vessels involved.”

The report accused North Korea of also violating a UN arms embargo and attempting “to sell a wide range of military equipment to armed groups and governments in the Middle East and Africa,” as well as small arms and light weapons to Libya, Sudan and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The UN monitors also noted “a trend in the DPRK`s evasion of financial sanctions using cyber-attacks to illegally force the transfer of funds from financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges.”

North Korea is subject to a ban on luxury goods and the monitors said they are investigating the public appearance of a relatively new Rolls-Royce Phantom limousine in Pyongyang on Oct. 7 last year, which usually sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Russia and China suggested the Security Council discuss easing sanctions after Trump and Kim met for the first time. But the United States and other council members have said there must be strict enforcement of sanctions until Pyongyang acts.


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Don’t leave children of foreign fighters in legal limbo, UN urges states

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LONDON: Children of foreign fighters must have the right to belong to a country, lawyers and the United Nations said , after Britain stripped the citizenship of a teenage mother who travelled to Syria at 15 to join IS.

The fate of Shamima Begum, who was found in a refugee camp in Syria last week, has illustrated the ethical, legal and security conundrum that governments face when dealing with the families of militants who swore to destroy the West.

With IS depleted and Kurdish-led militia poised to seize the group’s last holdout in eastern Syria, Western capitals are trying to work out what to do with battle-hardened foreign jihadist fighters and their wives and children.

 

The UN children’s agency, Unicef, said all children have “the right to a name, an identity and a nationality” according to international laws and governments had a responsibility to adopt safeguards that prevent a child from being born stateless.

“But where this occurs, those children need legal-aid and support to ensure no child is denied their right to citizenship,” Unicef said in an email.

There is no reliable estimate for the number of stateless people globally although the UN estimates it could be 12 million and wants to end statelessness by 2024 as it can leave people with no access to basic rights like education and health.

Amal de Chickera, co-director of the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion, said Britain should have taken Begum and her child and put her under investigation as it had an obligation to look after the baby and children in similar cases. “It’s deeply concerning to see this happening to a baby that’s just a few days old,” he said in a phone interview.

“One must question the effectiveness of this measure: does citizenship-stripping really strengthen or protect national security? Or can it potentially lead to further radicalisation?”—Thomson Reuters Foundation

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UN envoy says risk of Israeli-Palestinian war looms large

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United Nations: The UN Mideast envoy says the prospect of peace between Israel and the Palestinians “is fading by the day as the specter of violence and radicalism grows” and “the risk of war continues to loom large”.

Nikolay Mladenov also told the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday that a negotiated two-state solution is drifting further away.

In his words: “What is needed, first and foremost, is the necessary leadership and political will for change. Until that will can be found, Palestinians and Israelis will continue to slide into increasingly hazardous territory.”

 

Mladenov stressed that leaders must believe peace is possible through negotiations.

He also said leaders and the international community must be committed to support Israelis and Palestinians to reach a peace deal based on U.N. resolutions and bilateral agreements.

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Saudi to free 850 Indian prisoners from its jails

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Mumbai: Saudi Arabia will release 850 Indians from its prisons after a request from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MBS) visit to New Delhi, India’s Foreign Ministry has said.

Saudi jails hold the greatest number of Indians incarcerated in any country abroad. As of January 2019, 2,224 Indians were in prison in the kingdom for crimes including murder, kidnapping, bribery, and offences related to drugs and alcohol, according to Indian Foreign Ministry figures.

The approximately 2.7 million Indians in Saudi Arabia form the largest expatriate community in the kingdom, with many working in low-paid jobs in sectors such as construction, domestic services and retailing that Saudis spurn.

 

“At the request of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia has ordered the release of 850 Indian prisoners lodged in Saudi jails,” India’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in a tweet.

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