N. Korea should take ‘bold’ steps toward denuclearization: S. Korea’s Moon

In this May 26, 2018, file photo provided by South Korea Presidential Blue House, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, right, walk after their meeting at the northern side of Panmunjom in North Korea. (AP)
Updated 10 January 2019
0

N. Korea should take ‘bold’ steps toward denuclearization: S. Korea’s Moon

  • Moon acknowledged that the agreement North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump signed at their first summit in Singapore was “somewhat vague”

SEOUL: North Korea needs to take “more bold, practical measures for denuclearization” to ensure sanctions are lifted, the South’s President Moon Jae-in said Thursday with negotiations stalling between Pyongyang and Washington.
“Corresponding measures must be devised in order to facilitate North Korea’s continued denuclearization efforts,” he added, such as the US agreeing a “peace regime” and formally declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean War.
The North has repeatedly pledged to work toward “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” a vague term that could be taken to also include US forces in the South and in the wider region.
Moon acknowledged that the agreement North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump signed at their first summit in Singapore was “somewhat vague.”
He also said there was “skepticism” that Kim’s “concept of denuclearization” will be different from that demanded by the US.
“But Kim has assured many foreign leaders, including myself, Trump, Xi Jinping and Putin, that his concept is no different in any way from what the international community demands,” Moon told reporters at the Blue House in Seoul.
“Kim also stated that denuclearization and the issue of ending the war has nothing to do with the status of US troops in South Korea,” he added. “Kim Jong Un understands that the issue is entirely up to the decision of South Korea and the United States.”
US strategic assets in the region involved not only North Korea, “but also overall stability and peace in Northeast Asia,” Moon said. “I don’t think it will be discussed in North-US nuclear talks.”
The North Korean leader’s trip to China this week was a sign a second Trump-Kim summit was “imminent,” he added.
“I think Chairman Kim Jong Un’s visit to China will have a very positive effect on the success of the second US-North Korea summit,” he told the press conference.
A second summit should produce an agreement that was “more clear on actions by each side,” he added.
Moon has actively pursued engagement with the North to bring it to the negotiating table, a stance that has at times seen Seoul and Washington take increasingly divergent approaches.
Conditions for resuming two key economic projects between North and South Korea — the Kaesong Industrial Complex, where Southern companies used to employ North Korean workers, and Southern tourism to Mount Kumgang in the North “have essentially been met already,” he said.
But many analysts say that restarting the schemes would at present violate sanctions imposed on the North over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Seoul would cooperate with the US and international community to seek to “resolve” the issue of sanctions “as soon as possible,” Moon said.


Scans on US diplomats in Cuba show ‘something happened to the brains’

Dr. Mitchell Valdes-Sosa, General Director of the Cuban Neuroscience Center, speaks during a press conference in Havana, Cuba, on July 23, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 38 min 35 sec ago
0

Scans on US diplomats in Cuba show ‘something happened to the brains’

  • Tablada urged the White House to stop using the issue “as a pretext to impose increasingly aggressive new sanctions” against the Cuban people

WASHINGTON: Brain scans of about 40 US diplomats injured in mysterious circumstances in Cuba reveal visible differences compared to those in a control group, researchers who analyzed them said Tuesday.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and led by professors at the University of Pennsylvania, does not draw any conclusions about the cause of the symptoms suffered by the diplomats from late 2016 into May 2018.
But the MRIs of the patients confirm that “something happened to the brains of these people,” Ragini Verma, a professor of radiology at UPenn and co-author of the study, told AFP.
“It’s not imagined,” she said. “All I can say is that there is a truth to be found.”
Verma added: “Whatever happened was not due to a pre-existing condition, because we test for that.”
From late 2016, diplomats posted in Havana and some of their family members suffered unexplained symptoms ranging from poor balance and vertigo to lack of coordination, unusual eye movements, anxiety and what victims called a “cognitive fog.”
The United States recalled most of its diplomatic personnel from the Cuban capital in September 2017.
Some of them have recovered and returned to work, but others are still undergoing rehab, according to Verma.
The US government never publicly explained the cause of the mysterious illnesses. It neither confirmed nor denied the possibility of attacks using some sort of acoustic weapon, as some US media reported, without offering proof.
Cuba has denied all responsibility for the incidents, which also affected at least 14 Canadian citizens. Ottawa also ended up recalling most of its diplomats from Havana in January.
At the request of the State Department, 44 diplomats and family members were sent from mid-2017 to UPenn’s brain trauma center to undergo MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) exams.
Researchers compared those results with scans from 48 comparable subjects in two control groups. The differences are statistically significant and relate to the brain’s white matter as well as the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls movement.
A State Department spokesman welcomed “the medical community’s discussion on this incredibly complex issue. The Department’s top priority remains the safety, security, and well-being of its staff.”
Verma said it was vital to follow the diplomats and their families over time “to see whether these changes evolve or change.”

Responding to the report, Havana again denied all responsibility in the affair.
The study by the UPenn professors “does not allow clear and final scientific conclusions to be reached,” said Mitchell Valdes-Sosa, head of the Neuroscience Center of Cuba.
Valdes-Sosa told reporters that the study “does not show, contrary to what has been speculated... that the group of diplomats suffered brain damage during their stay in Cuba.”
A senior foreign ministry official in charge of US affairs, Johana Tablada, said that as of now “no evidence exists of any type of attack” against the US diplomats, and called on Washington to stop using that term in such an “irresponsible” way.
Tablada urged the White House to stop using the issue “as a pretext to impose increasingly aggressive new sanctions” against the Cuban people.