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North Korean envoy warns of nuclear war possibility

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Han Song-ryol
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Pyongyang, April 18: North Korea will continue to test missiles on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis, Vice Foreign Minister Han Song-ryol has said.

He said that an “all-out war” would result if the US took military action, BBC reported.

“If the US is planning a military attack against us, we will react with a nuclear pre-emptive strike by our own style and method,” Han told BBC.

Earlier, US Vice President Mike Pence warned North Korea not to test the US, adding his country’s “era of strategic patience” with Pyongyang was over.

“Just in the past two weeks, the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new President in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan,” Pence said.

“North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region.”

Pence arrived in Seoul on Sunday hours after North Korea carried out a failed missile launch.

Tensions have been escalating on the peninsula, with heated rhetoric from both North Korea and the US.

North Korea has accelerated its nuclear and missile tests in recent years, despite international condemnation and UN sanctions.

Its aim is to be able to put a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach targets around the world, including the US.

US President Donald Trump has said that will not happen, and stepped up pressure on the isolated North.

He has sent a navy strike group towards the Korean Peninsula, and the US and South Korea are moving ahead with the early deployment of a controversial missile defence system.

Despite the tension, North Korea may carry out a sixth nuclear test soon, observers say. It test-fired a missile on Sunday that exploded within seconds of launch, following a grand military parade on Saturday.

Han told the BBC that North Korea believed its nuclear weapons “protect” it from the threat of US military action.

The North casts the US as the aggressor.

At a news conference at the UN on Monday, North Korea’s permanent representative Ambassador Kim In-ryong, condemned the US missile strikes in Syria, which targeted an air base after a suspected chemical attack by the government.

He said the US was “disturbing global peace and stability and insisting on the gangster-like logic that its invasion of a sovereign state is decisive and just and proportionate and contributes to defending the international order”.

China has reiterated its call for North Korea to stop all tests and has also called for a peaceful solution.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters in Beijing on Monday that the Korean peninsula was “highly sensitive, complicated and high risk” and that all sides should “avoid taking provocative actions that pour oil on the fire”.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would not tolerate “missile adventures by Pyongyang” but a unilateral use of power by the US would be “a very risky course”.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday told a parliamentary session that diplomatic efforts were “important to maintain peace”, but “dialogue for the sake of having dialogue is meaningless”.

He added that Japan needed to apply pressure on Pyongyang to “seriously respond to a dialogue” with the international community.

IANS

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Paris attack suspect Salah Abdeslam gets 20 years jail term

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Salah Abdeslam

Brussels, April 23: Paris attack suspect Salah Abdeslam on Monday awarded 20 years jail term, AFP reported. 

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Yaba drug smuggling, addiction rates record alarming rise in Bangladesh

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Dhaka (Bangladesh), April 23: Smuggling of the highly-addictive drug yaba — and its soaring acceptance among the youth and even celebrities — is a challenge Bangladesh faces increasingly as Rohingya refugees from neighbouring Myanmar are suspected to be peddling it as a means of survival, say border guard officials.

On a recent trip to the border areas of Bangladesh, an Indian media group was told that a wave of yaba use has swept over the country as young people from the middle and upper income classes are experimenting with this “crazy medicine” and fuelling an alarming surge in addiction rates.

Officials of the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) said they have seized 5,297,234 pieces of yaba pills this year up to March and arrested 151 smugglers, including 15 Myanmar nationals, as a massive influx of Rohingya refugees brought increased smuggling from that country. The number of seized pills was around 14,997,570 in 2017 when 649 people, including 15 Myanmar nationals, were held.

Raids on fishing boats on the Naff river– which divides Bangladesh and Myanmar, countries that share a 271-km boundary — have reaped a massive haul of yaba pills, which is a rage among Bangladeshi youth.

“In one raid on March 15, we seized 1.8 million yaba pills abandoned in four sacks in the Naff river,” Brigadier General S.M. Rakibullah told IANS.

Rakibullah, Additional Director General and Regional Commander of BGB’s Adhoc Region Headquarters in Cox’s Bazar, said: “It is the biggest ever yaba seizure by the BGB. The guards arrested 11 smugglers in March, including seven Rohingyas.”

Shahidur Rahman, Director, BGB Battalion, Feni region, said yaba pills have become an easy source of income for the Rohingyas who have poured across the border since the Myanmar military launched a crackdown in their native Rakhine state on August 24-25 night last year.

Rohingya refugees act as carriers of yaba, which is known as “crazy medicine”, and hand over the pills to dealers on the Bangladesh side of the border who then take them to the country’s main cities, Rahman said.

Three young Rohingya refugees — identified as Mohammed Saddam, Masud Talukder and Jamil Hossein — were arrested last week in separate drives and over 100,000 yaba pills (worth in crores) were recovered from their possession in the Cox Bazar area, the official said.

He said “it is a way to make easy money as one tablet is sold illegally for 300 Taka”.

A BGB official, on condition of anonymity, said the force has been facing tough times to stop the yaba smuggling because of the difficulty in patrolling the 54 km of the Naff river.

“Smuggling of yaba came to light some time towards the end of 2015, but the menace has grown since the influx of Rohingyas who are lured by Myanmar crime syndicate as carriers. The internal carriers have increased. Some of them are desperate just for survival,” the official said.

The Sheikh Hasina government in Bangladesh has called for “zero tolerance” on smuggling of yaba, which has one too many nicknames and was outlawed in Thailand in the early 1970s.

Another BGB official said Thailand is one of the largest sources of yaba while Myanmar is one of the biggest producers of it. “Yaba pills are produced in labs on the Myanmar side.”

He said Yaba is mostly popular among those who suffer from sexual or mental problems. “Some unscrupulous doctors and chemists prescribe and sell pills laced with yaba for immediate relief.”

The drug is believed to have led to organised crime rackets, official corruption, street violence and broken families, said the official.

Many syndicates are bringing yaba pills from Teknaf to Dhaka through new routes after the contraband tablets are smuggled from Myanmar. From Teknaf, the pills first reach Patuakhali’s Kuakata in fishing boats and then make their way through different modes of transport.

Acting regional commander of south east region of BGB, Colonel Gazi Md Ahsanuzzaman, said that yaba smuggling had gone up since last year.

“Tablets worth Taka 1.25 crore are smuggled per day into Bangladesh. Earlier the number was in a few lakhs. The tablets are smuggled through the Naff river via no-man’s land near Gumdhum village in the Cox region of Bangladesh.”

Yaba is spreading from urban to rural areas with drug abuse particularly increasing among street children, he said.

According to drug control authorities, from 2007 to 2010, illicit trafficking and abuse of yaba has increased almost 40 times in Bangladesh.

(Rajnish Singh visited Bangladesh between April 15 and 18 as part of BSF-sponsored Indian media group. He can be contacted at [email protected] )

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North Korea suspends nuclear, ballistic missile testing

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North Korean Kim Jong un

Seoul, April 21: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Saturday announced the immediate suspension of nuclear and long-range missile tests.

“From April 21, North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles,” Efe quoted Kim as saying.

According to the report, North Korea will also close a nuclear test site in the country’s northern side in a bid to guarantee transparency in suspending nuclear tests.

Having established a nuclear deterrent, North Korea can now turn to overhauling its economy, Kim said.

Pyongyang’s decision comes ahead of Kim’s April 27 summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the demilitarized zone that divides the two countries.

The last bilateral talks between the leaders of North and South Korea took place 11 years ago.

US President Donald Trump, who accepted Kim’s proposal for a meeting after months that saw the two men trade insults and threats, praised the announcement from Pyongyang.

“North Korea has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests and close up a major test site. This is very good news for North Korea and the World — big progress! Look forward to our Summit,” Trump said in a tweet.

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