North Korea successfully launches long-range rocket

Updated 13 December 2012
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North Korea successfully launches long-range rocket

SEOUL: North Korea fired a long-range rocket Wednesday days before the first anniversary of its former ruler’s death, magnifying the threat posed by the nuclear-armed state and provoking outrage from the US.
Regional US allies were also angered and even China expressed concern at the successful launch by its wayward communist ally — while also calling on all sides to avoid “stoking the flames.”
The launch triggered plans for an emergency session of the UN Security Council, which has imposed round after round of sanctions against North Korea over its ballistic missile and nuclear programmes.
North Korea insisted the mission was not a banned intercontinental missile test but was designed to place a scientific satellite in orbit, and said it had achieved all its objectives.
“The satellite has entered the orbit as planned,” Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a statement repeated later in a triumphant special broadcast on state television.
North American Aerospace Defense Command officials said the launch appeared to have successfully put an object in orbit.
Masao Okonogi, a professor of Korean politics at Keio University, said the launch would thrust North Korea close to the top of Washington’s national security agenda.
“Putting a satellite into orbit means that you have technology to get a warhead to a targeted area. Now, North Korea is becoming not only a threat to the neighboring countries but also a real threat to the United States,” Okonogi said.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un was believed to be keen that the launch fall close to the first anniversary of the death of his father and former leader Kim Jong-Il on December 17.
KCNA hailed it as a “ground-breaking” event that paid tribute to the late Kim’s vision and leadership.
The launch took many observers by surprise, coming after many experts said North Korea appeared to be running into technical problems caused by the bitter winter weather.
A previous launch of the same Unha-3 rocket in April had ended in embarrassing failure, with the carrier exploding shortly after take-off.
Success this time carries profound security implications, marking a major advance in North Korea’s ability to mate an intercontinental ballistic missile capability with its nuclear weapons programme.
In October, North Korea had said it already possessed rockets capable of striking the US mainland — a claim that many analysts at the time dismissed as bluster.
In Washington, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor issued a scathing statement that accused North Korea of once again tearing up the international rulebook.
“North Korea’s launch today... is a highly provocative act that threatens regional security, directly violates United Nations Security Council resolutions ... and undermines the global non-proliferation regime,” he said.
Unusually China — North Korea’s sole major ally and its biggest trade partner and aid provider — responded relatively quickly with a statement that pressed the country to abide by UN Security Council resolutions.
But in a commentary, state news agency Xinhua also decried “bellicose rhetoric and gestures” by all concerned, and defended North Korea’s right to explore space.
“All parties concerned should stay cool-headed and refrain from stoking the flames so as to prevent the situation from spiralling out of control,” it said.
Russia labelled Pyongyang’s defiance of UN resolutions as “unacceptable” and warned the launch would have a “negative effect” on regional stability.
North Korea is banned from carrying out missile tests under UN resolutions triggered by Pyongyang’s two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.
Japan’s government said it “cannot tolerate” the “extremely regrettable” launch, and South Korea’s government convened an emergency meeting of its National Security Council.
“This is a threat to peace on the Korean peninsula and around the world,” Foreign Minister Kim Sung-Hwan said.
The UN Security Council said it would meet Wednesday, with one Western diplomat predicting a “strong response.”
Pyongyang put the timing of the launch at 9:49 a.m. (0049 GMT) and said the satellite was deployed in orbit nearly 10 minutes later.
The first and second stages fell in the sea west and southwest of the Korean Peninsula, while the third splashed down 300 kilometers (188 miles) east of the Philippines.
US and South Korean officials said it would take time to fully analyze the entire launch and determine its overall success.
North Korea had originally provided a December 10-22 launch window, but extended that by a week on Monday when a “technical deficiency” was discovered.
While the United States and its allies look to ratchet up pressure at the UN, much will depend on the stance taken by veto-wielding member China.
“China sets the maximum response level in the Security Council when it comes to North Korea,” said a senior South Korean government official.


Trump’s travel ban faces US Supreme Court showdown

Updated 22 April 2018
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Trump’s travel ban faces US Supreme Court showdown

  • The high court has never decided the legal merits of the travel ban.
  • The challengers have argued the policy was motivated by Trump’s enmity toward Muslims.

WASHINGTON: The first big showdown at the US Supreme Court over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies is set for Wednesday when the justices hear a challenge to the lawfulness of his travel ban targeting people from several Muslim-majority countries.
The case represents a test of the limits of presidential power. Trump’s policy, announced in September, blocks entry into the US of most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Chad previously was on the list but Trump lifted those restrictions on April 10.
The high court has never decided the legal merits of the travel ban or any other major Trump immigration policy, including his move to rescind protections for young immigrants sometimes called Dreamers brought into the US illegally as children. It has previously acted on Trump requests to undo lower court orders blocking those two policies, siding with him on the travel ban and opposing him on the Dreamers. Trump’s immigration policies — also including actions taken against states and cities that protect illegal immigrants, intensified deportation efforts and limits on legal immigration — have been among his most contentious. 
The conservative-majority Supreme Court is due to hear arguments on Wednesday on the third version of a travel ban policy Trump first sought to implement a week after taking office in January 2017, and issue a ruling by the end of June. 
The lead challenger is the state of Hawaii, which argues the ban violates federal immigration law and the US Constitution’s prohibition on the government favoring one religion over another.
“Right now, the travel ban is keeping families apart. It is degrading our values by subjecting a specific set of people to be denigrated and marginalized,” Hawaii Lt. Governor Doug Chin said in an interview.
The Supreme Court on Dec. 4 signaled it may lean toward backing Trump when it granted the administration’s request to let the ban go into full effect while legal challenges played out.
In another immigration-related case, the justices on April 17 invalidated a provision in a US law requiring deportation of immigrants convicted of certain crimes of violence. Trump’s administration and the prior Obama administration had defended the provision.
'Politically correct'
Trump has said the travel ban is needed to protect the US from terrorism by militants. Just before the latest ban was announced, Trump wrote on Twitter that the restrictions “should be far larger, tougher and more specific — but stupidly that would not be politically correct!“
The challengers have argued the policy was motivated by Trump’s enmity toward Muslims, pressing that point in lower courts with some success by citing statements he made as a candidate and as president. As a candidate, Trump promised “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
The Justice Department argues Trump’s statements as a candidate carry no weight because he was not yet president. The policy’s challengers also point to views he has expressed as president, including his retweets in November of anti-Muslim videos posted by a far-right British political figure.
In a court filing last week, US Solicitor General Noel Francisco, representing Trump in court, said those retweets “do not address the meaning” of the travel ban policy.
Francisco cited Trump statements complimentary toward Muslims and Islam, including in a May 2017 speech in Saudi Arabia.
In defending the ban, the administration has pointed to a waiver provision allowing people from targeted countries to seek entry if they meet certain criteria. The State Department said that as of last month 375 waivers to the travel ban had been granted since the policy went into effect on Dec 8.