Activity detected at North Korea nuclear site: US monitor

A February summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ended abruptly without agreement on Pyongyang’s nuclear program. (File/AP)
Updated 17 April 2019
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Activity detected at North Korea nuclear site: US monitor

  • Kim earlier signed a vaguely-worded deal on the “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula”
  • Yongbyon is home to the country’s first nuclear reactor, and is the only known source of plutonium for the North’s weapons program

SEOUL: Activity has been detected at North Korea’s main nuclear site, suggesting Pyongyang may be reprocessing radioactive material into bomb fuel since the collapse of a summit with Washington, a US monitor said Wednesday.
The possible signs of fresh reprocessing activity last week come after a February summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ended abruptly without agreement on Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
Since then North Korea has said it was mulling options for its diplomacy with the US and Kim said last week he was open to talks with Trump only if Washington came with the “proper attitude.”
The Center for Strategic and International Studies said satellite imagery of the Yongbyon nuclear site on April 12 showed five railcars near its uranium enrichment facility and radiochemistry laboratory.
“In the past these specialized railcars appear to have been associated with the movement of radioactive material or reprocessing campaigns,” the Washington-based monitor said.
“The current activity, along with their configurations, does not rule out their possible involvement in such activity, either before or after a reprocessing campaign.”
Trump and Kim held their first landmark summit in Singapore last June, where the North Korean leader signed a vaguely-worded deal on the “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”
But their failure to reach agreement at their second summit in Hanoi on walking back Pyongyang’s nuclear program in exchange for relaxation of sanctions has raised questions over the future of the wider process.
The US president walked away from a partial deal proposed by Kim, which included an offer to dismantle the Yongbyon complex.
About 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Pyongyang, Yongbyon is home to the country’s first nuclear reactor, and is the only known source of plutonium for the North’s weapons program.
Yongbyon is not believed to be the North’s only uranium enrichment facility and closing it down would not in and of itself signal an end to the country’s atomic program.
North Korea suspended nuclear and missile testing during the diplomatic process in 2018 but the International Atomic Energy Agency has said there were indications that Yongbyon has been in use as recently as the end of February.


France holds first ‘Armenia genocide’ remembrance day

Updated 24 April 2019
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France holds first ‘Armenia genocide’ remembrance day

  • France was the first major European country to recognize the massacres as genocide in 2001
  • Erdogan has accused France of being responsable for the genocide in Rwanda in 1994

PARIS: France held its first “national day of commemoration of the Armenian genocide” on Wednesday, provoking an angry reaction from Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Troops from the Ottoman Empire — which preceded modern-day Turkey — were responsible for massacres and forced deportations of Armenians from 1915, but Turkey has always denied that the killings amounted to genocide.
France was the first major European country to recognize the massacres as genocide in 2001 and Macron announced the national day of remembrance in February this year, saying that his country “knows how to look history in the face.”
That drew a furious response from Erdogan at the time — he called Macron a “political novice” — and the Turkish leader denounced the commemoration day again on Wednesday in a televised speech.
“If we look at those trying to give lessons on human rights or democracy to Turkey on the Armenian question and the fight against terrorism, we see that they all have a bloody past,” he said.
Relations between France and Turkey are tense, particularly due to differences over the future of Syria and the role of Kurdish fighters there, but the two countries are allies in NATO and economic partners.
Erdogan has accused France of being responsable for the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, where the current government accuses Paris of being complicit in the atrocities committed by the majority Hutu community on minority Tutsis.
France has always denied the allegations and Macron announced the creation of a panel of historians and researchers earlier this month which will be tasked with investigating France’s role.
The 41-year-old French leader also announced an annual day of commemoration for the Rwanda genocide in which an estimated 800,000 people are thought to have died.
Armenians commemorate the massacres of their people on April 24 — the day in 1915 when thousands of Armenian intellectuals suspected of harboring nationalist sentiment and being hostile to Ottoman rule were rounded up.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is to lead the commemorations in France on Wednesday by giving a speech and laying flowers at a Monument for the Armenian Genocide erected on the northern bank of the river Seine in April 2003.
“We should find a way to tell them we are not blaming Turkey for that (the massacres). We are blaming the Turkish government in 1915,” French MP Jacques Marilossian, a member of Macron’s Republic on the Move party, told the France 24 channel.
When World War I broke out in 1914, Armenia — which for most of its history has been occupied by foreign powers — was divided between the Ottoman and Russian Empires.
Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their mostly Christian kin were killed between 1915 and 1917 by Turkish forces, and have long sought international recognition that this was genocide.