North Korea foreign minister to visit Iran on Tuesday

North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Yong Ho is due to visit Iran on Tuesday. (AP)
Updated 04 August 2018
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North Korea foreign minister to visit Iran on Tuesday

  • Ri is set to jet in as the United States reimposes sanctions on Iran following Washington’s withdrawal from the 2015 deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear program.
  • North Korea’s top diplomat will meet Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

TEHRAN: North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Yong Ho is due to visit Iran on Tuesday, Iranian media reported on Saturday.
Ri is set to jet in as the United States reimposes sanctions on Iran following Washington’s withdrawal from the 2015 deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear program.
The US is currently also pushing Pyongyang to scrap its nuclear capabilities after President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un agreed a vague commitment to “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” at their landmark summit in June.
North Korea’s top diplomat will meet Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, according to the conservative-aligned Fars news agency.
The report did not give any details of what will be discussed.
Ri is thought to have met with a high-level Iranian delegation at a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Baku, Azerbaijan in April, according to the Korean Central News Agency.
A North Korean delegation also attended President Hassan Rouhani’s inauguration in August 2017.
A United Nations Panel of Experts has expressed concern over collaboration between the two countries in the past, according to NK News.
In a 2017 report, it noted the presence of designated North Korean weapons traffickers living in Tehran and the similarity between missile designs in the two countries.


China’s pollution readings rise 5 percent in January to February

Updated 2 min 20 sec ago
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China’s pollution readings rise 5 percent in January to February

  • China forced smog-prone northern cities to implement special emissions restrictions from October 2018 to March 2019
  • The ministry has promised to crack down on regions that fail to meet targets

SHANGHAI: China’s average concentrations of lung-damaging particles known as PM2.5 rose by 5.2 percent in the first two months of the year, the environment ministry said on Thursday, casting doubt over the country’s ability to meet winter targets.
The nation’s average PM2.5 readings came in at 61 micrograms per cubic meter for January and February, according to a Ministry of Ecology and Environment survey of 337 cities, with only 83 reaching the national standard of 35 micrograms.
Levels of PM2.5 at 28 cities in the key pollution control region of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei soared 24 percent over the two-month period from the same time a year ago to an average of 108 micrograms, more than 10 times 10 micrograms recommended as safe by the World Health Organization.
Meanwhile, PM2.5 levels in the 11 cities of the Fenwei Plain, another major smog control zone, surged by 26.6 percent over the period, hitting an average of 119 micrograms.
China forced smog-prone northern cities to implement special emissions restrictions from October 2018 to March 2019 in order to offset rising levels of coal combustion from state heating systems during the winter.
But Reuters calculations based on official data showed that PM2.5 readings in the 39 key northern cities still rose 13 percent over the October-February period.
The 39 cities are under pressure to make year-on-year PM2.5 cuts of around 3 percent from October to March, but Reuters calculations show that only three — Changzhi and Luliang in Shanxi province, and Jining in Shandong — were on course to meet their targets at the end of last month.
The government has previously blamed unfavorable weather conditions for the poor air quality over the period, saying that “a weak El Nino effect” and a subsequent increase in temperature and humidity has made it harder to disperse emissions.
The ministry has promised to crack down on regions that fail to meet targets, regardless of weather conditions, but it remains unclear what punishments they will face.
The provinces of Hebei and Shanxi, where eight of China’s smoggiest cities were located in 2018, have established a “punishment and reward system” in which the worst-performing districts pay fines to regions that have performed the best.
On Wednesday, Hebei published a list of 14 districts that failed to meet 2018 targets, including major industrial zones in Tangshan, China’s biggest steel-producing city.
Communist Party bosses from each of the 14 districts were summoned to the provincial environmental protection bureau to receive public criticism, the provincial government said in a notice.