North Korea threatens to ‘sink’ Japan, reduce US to ‘ashes and darkness’

Missiles are driven past the stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other high ranking officials during a military parade in April 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 14 September 2017
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North Korea threatens to ‘sink’ Japan, reduce US to ‘ashes and darkness’

SEOUL/JAPAN: A North Korean state agency threatened on Thursday to use nuclear weapons to “sink” Japan and reduce the US to “ashes and darkness” for supporting a UN Security Council resolution and sanctions over its latest nuclear test.
Pyongyang’s Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, which handles the North’s external ties and propaganda, also called for the breakup of the Security Council, which it called “a tool of evil” made up of “money-bribed” countries that move at the order of the US.
“The four islands of the archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche. Japan is no longer needed to exist near us,” the committee said in a statement carried by the North’s official KCNA news agency.
Juche is the North’s ruling ideology that mixes Marxism and an extreme form of go-it-alone nationalism preached by state founder Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong Un.
Regional tensions have risen markedly since the reclusive North conducted its sixth, and by far its most powerful, nuclear test on September 3.
The 15-member Security Council voted unanimously on a US-drafted resolution and a new round of sanctions on Monday in response, banning North Korea’s textile exports that are the second largest only to coal and mineral, and capping fuel supplies.
The North reacted to the latest action by the Security Council, which had the backing of veto-holding China and Russia, by reiterating threats to destroy the US, Japan and South Korea.
“Let’s reduce the US mainland into ashes and darkness. Let’s vent our spite with mobilization of all retaliation means which have been prepared till now,” the statement said.
Japan’s Nikkei stock index and dollar/yen currency pared gains, although traders said that was more because of several Chinese economic indicators that were released on Thursday rather than a reaction to the North’s latest statement.
South Korea’s won also edged down around the same time over domestic financial concerns.
The North’s latest threats also singled out Japan for “dancing to the tune” of the US, saying it should never be pardoned for not offering a sincere apology for its “never-to-be-condoned crimes against our people”, an apparent reference to Japan’s wartime aggression.
It also referred to South Korea as “traitors and dogs” of the US.
Japan criticized the North’s statement harshly.
“This announcement is extremely provocative and egregious. It is something that markedly heightens regional tension and is absolutely unacceptable,” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a regular news conference on Thursday.
North Korea had already categorically rejected the Security Council resolution imposing sanctions over its latest test, vowing to press ahead with its nuclear and missile programs in defiance of international pressure.
A tougher initial US draft of Monday’s resolution was weakened to win the support of China and Russia. Significantly, it stopped short of imposing a full embargo on oil exports to North Korea, most of which come from China.
The latest sanctions also make it illegal for foreign firms to form commercial joint ventures with North Korean entities.


German court rejects call for Catalan leader Puigdemont to be rearrested

Updated 45 min ago
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German court rejects call for Catalan leader Puigdemont to be rearrested

BERLIN: A German court on Tuesday rejected a request from prosecutors to take former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont back into custody pending a decision on whether he can be extradited to Spain.
Puigdemont was detained by German police March 25 after crossing the border from Denmark. Spain had issued a European arrest warrant and sought his extradition on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds — charges that stem from an unauthorized referendum last year on Catalonia’s independence from Spain.
He was released April 6 after a German court said it appeared he can’t be extradited for rebellion, the more serious of the two charges. But prosecutors in the northern town of Schleswig argued that new information provided by Spanish authorities suggests that would be possible.
They cited videos showing violence against Spanish police and said in a statement that “the disturbances were on such a scale that prosecutors believe that he should also be extradited over the accusation of rebellion.” The prosecutors argued that the charge is comparable to two offenses under German law — treason and breaching the peace.
They said that Puigdemont would pose a flight risk and called for him to be taken back into custody. The state court in Schleswig disagreed and rejected the request.
Puigdemont remains free with certain conditions, including reporting to police once a week.
The separatist politician has been living in Berlin, frequently receiving political allies from Catalonia including his newly elected successor as regional president, Quim Torra.
The Schleswig court said it is “still open” when a final decision will be made on whether Puigdemont can be extradited. It said that the prosecutors have yet to submit a formal application to examine whether an extradition is possible.