North Korea warns US over sanctions push ahead of UN vote

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (front C) and his wife Ri Sol-Ju (front 4th L) attending an art performance. (AFP/KCNA VIA KNS)
Updated 11 September 2017
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North Korea warns US over sanctions push ahead of UN vote

SEOUL/UNITED NATIONS: North Korea warned the United States on Monday that it would pay a “due price” for spearheading efforts for fresh sanctions on the regime following its latest nuclear test, which diplomats say the UN Security Council will vote on later in the day.
However, a US-drafted resolution originally calling for an oil embargo on the North, a halt to its key exports of textiles and subjecting leader Kim Jong Un to a financial and travel ban, appears to have been watered down to appease Russia and China, which both have veto powers, diplomats said.
It no longer proposes blacklisting Kim and reduces sanctions on oil and gas, a draft reviewed by Reuters shows. It still proposes a ban on textile exports.
North Korea was condemned globally for conducting its sixth nuclear test on Sept 3, which it said was of an advanced hydrogen bomb. NATO head Jens Stoltenberg said at the weekend that North Korea’s “reckless behavior” is a global threat and required a global response.
The tensions have weighed on global markets, but on Monday there was some relief among investors that North Korea did not conduct a further missile test this weekend when it celebrated its founding anniversary.
Still, North Korea denounced efforts by Washington to impose new UN-backed sanctions against the country. The North’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said the United States was “going frantic” to manipulate the Security Council over Pyongyang’s nuclear test, which it said was part of “legitimate self-defensive measures.”
“In case the US eventually does rig up the illegal and unlawful ‘resolution’ on harsher sanctions, the DPRK shall make absolutely sure that the US pays due price,” the spokesman said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.
DPRK is short for the North’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“The world will witness how the DPRK tames the US gangsters by taking a series of actions tougher than they have ever envisaged,” the unnamed spokesman said.
“The DPRK has developed and perfected the super-powerful thermo-nuclear weapon as a means to deter the ever-increasing hostile moves and nuclear threat of the US and defuse the danger of nuclear war looming over the Korean peninsula and the region.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said last week during a visit to Russia that shutting off North Korea’s supply of oil was inevitable this time to bring Pyongyang to talks and he called for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s support.
Putin has remained firm however, that such sanctions on oil would have negative humanitarian effects on North Koreans.
China may be most critical though in deciding if oil sanctions go ahead because it controls an oil pipeline that industry sources say provides about 520,000 tons of crude a year to the North.
A Security Council resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, Britain, France, Russia or China to pass.

FALLOUT
There was no independent verification of the North’s claim to have conducted a hydrogen bomb test, but some experts said there was enough strong evidence to suggest Pyongyang had either developed a hydrogen bomb or was getting close.
KCNA said on Sunday that Kim threw a banquet to laud the scientists and top military and party officials who contributed to the nuclear bomb test, topped with an art performance and a photo session with the leader himself.
The tensions over the Korean peninsula are also leading to bilateral tensions as well.
South Korea’s Lotte Shopping is considering selling its supermarkets in China and other options should political tensions between Seoul and Beijing continue next year, an official at the retailer told Reuters on Monday.
China has pressured South Korean businesses via boycotts and bans since Seoul decided last year to deploy a US-made missile defense system as a deterrent to North Korea. Beijing says the system’s radar can penetrate far into its territory.
South Korea deployed four additional units of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on Thursday after the North’s latest nuclear test.
The heightened tensions over the North’s nuclear weapons program could have a substantial impact on South Korea’s economy and disrupt trade between the United States and China, Ratings agency Fitch said on Monday.
Outright military conflict on the Korean peninsula is unlikely but prolonged tension surrounding the North’s weapons program could undermine business and consumer sentiment and dent positive momentum, Fitch said. (Additional reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Jack Kim and Neil Fullick)


France, Saudi Arabia to hold Yemen humanitarian conference end June

Updated 24 May 2018
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France, Saudi Arabia to hold Yemen humanitarian conference end June

  • France and Saudi Arabia will co-host an international conference on Yemen in Paris
  • More than 10,000 people have been killed in a war that has displaced 3 million internally

PARIS: France and Saudi Arabia will co-host an international conference on Yemen in Paris in June to assess humanitarian needs for the country and possibly contribute to reviving U.N.-backed peace talks.
A Saudi-led coalition backed by the West has carried out air strikes against the armed Houthi movement in a war since 2015 to restore the internationally recognised government.
More than 10,000 people have been killed in a war that has displaced 3 million internally and unleashed the world's worst humanitarian crisis, the UN says.
"We are currently working on how to organise this conference with our various partners, Yemen and the United Nations," France's foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll told reporters in a daily briefing on Wednesday.
"This conference should take stock of humanitarian needs, evaluate the assistance provided and the response mechanisms which need to be improved and define humanitarian actions to improve the situation of civilian populations."
The French president's office said the conference would take place at the end of June. A source aware of the plans said it was scheduled for June 27.
Von der Muhll declined to say whether Paris intended to invite representatives of the Iran-aligned Houthis.
"This work, which we want to be collective, can help to recreate the conditions for a resumption of political discussions under the auspices of the United nations," Von der Muhll said in a statement on Tuesday.
It is unclear how this would fit into the UN Yemen mediator Martin Griffiths' efforts. He said in April he wanted to present a plan for negotiations within two months to end the conflict, but warned that any new military offensives could "take peace off the table."
Three rounds of UN-backed peace talks between the Houthis and the Yemeni government, with the last held in Kuwait in August 2016, ended without success. Griffiths began his term in March in a bid by the U.N. to revive the stalled peace process.