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South Korea spy agency sees signs of planned new missile test by North Korea

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a cosmetics factory in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on October 28, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS

North Korea may be planning a new missile test, South Korea’s spy agency told lawmakers on Thursday, after brisk activity was spotted at its research facilities, just days before U.S. President Donald Trump visits Seoul.

Reclusive North Korea has carried out a series of nuclear and missile tests in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, but has not launched any missiles since firing one over Japan on Sept. 15, the longest such lull this year.

However a flurry of activity including the movement of vehicles has been detected at the North’s missile research facilities in Pyongyang, where the most recent missile test was conducted, pointing to another possible launch, South Korea’s Intelligence Service said in a briefing to lawmakers.

It did not say how the activity was detected.

North Korea has made no secret of its plans to perfect a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. It regularly threatens to destroy the United States and its “puppet”, South Korea.

“There is a possibility of a new missile launch given the active movement of vehicles around the missile research institute in Pyongyang. The North will constantly push for further nuclear tests going forward, and the miniaturization and diversification of warheads,” the intelligence agency said at the briefing.

The North’s nuclear testing site in the northwestern town of Punggye-ri could have been damaged by its sixth and largest nuclear test on Sept. 3, according to Kim Byung-kee, Yi Wan-young and Lee Tae-gyu, members of South Korea’s parliamentary intelligence committee.

The explosion triggered an aftershock within eight minutes and three additional shocks.

Japanese broadcaster TV Asahi, citing unnamed sources, said on Tuesday a tunnel at the test site collapsed after that explosion, possibly killing more than 200 people. Reuters has not been able to verify the report which North Korea on Thursday denounced as false and defamatory.

Pyongyang will likely detonate more devices as it tries to master the miniaturization of nuclear warheads to put atop missiles, the lawmakers said.

The third tunnel at the Punggye-ri complex remained ready for another test “at any time”, while construction had resumed at a fourth tunnel, making it unable to be used “for a considerable amount of time”, they added.

Trump is to visit five Asian nations in coming days for talks in which North Korea will be a major focus. The visit includes the North’s lone major ally, China, and U.S. allies Japan and South Korea, which have watched with increasing worry as Trump and North Korea have exchanged bellicose rhetoric.

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Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife charged with fraud

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Jerusalem, June 21: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara on Thursday charged with fraud over alleged misuse of funds at latter’s residence.

Suspicions included the misuse of around $100,000 in official funds for catering services at the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem, Reuters reported citing the ministry said in a statement.

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Trump signs executive order ending family separations at border

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Washington, June 21 : US President Donald Trump has bowed to public pressure and signed an executive order promising to “keep families together” in migrant detentions.

Trump reversed his own policy amid international fury over the separation of undocumented parents and children.

He said he had been swayed by images of children who have been taken from parents while they are jailed and prosecuted for illegal border-crossing.

It was not immediately clear when Trump’s order would be implemented.

“It’s about keeping families together,” Trump said at the signing ceremony on Wednesday, reports BBC.

“I did not like the sight of families being separated,” he said, but added the administration would continue its “zero tolerance policy” of criminally prosecuting anyone who crosses the border illegally.

The executive order states that immigrant families will be detained together, except in cases where there are concerns about the child’s welfare, but it is unclear for how long.

Trump’s order also calls for prioritising immigration cases involving detained families.

The President said his wife, Melania, and daughter, Ivanka, who reportedly have been applying pressure on him to drop the policy in recent days, “feel strongly” about ending the practice of separating migrant families.

“I think anybody with a heart would feel very strongly about it,” he said. “We don’t like to see families separated.”

Vice-President Mike Pence and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who has emerged as the face of the White House policy, were both present for Wednesday’s order signing.

Republican congressional leader Paul Ryan said the House of Representatives will vote on Thursday “on legislation to keep families together”.

He did not immediately provide details of the bill, but said it resolves the issue of so-called Dreamers, undocumented adult migrants who entered the US as children, “in a very elegant way”.

On Wednesday, American Airlines, United Airlines and Frontier Airlines said they did not want their planes used by the US government to transport the migrant children.

United chief executive Oscar Munoz said: “We want no part of it.”

For days administration officials have insisted they were simply following the law as written and their “zero tolerance” policy for illegal border crossings meant they “have to take the children away”, in the president’s words.

Critics have countered that Mr Trump unilaterally created the situation that produced the heart-rending accounts of children separated from their parents, and he could unilaterally fix it.

By taking executive action, the president is effectively acknowledging they were correct.

Now the fight will probably move to the courts, with legal challenges to the administration’s decision to hold detained families together while their immigration status is adjudicated.

That is more politically hospitable ground for Republicans, who already face challenging mid-term congressional elections.

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Turkey hits US with retaliatory tariffs

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Ankara, June 21 : Turkey on Thursday became the latest country to hit back at the US for its tariffs on steel and aluminium.

Turkey’s Ministry of Economy said that it was imposing tariffs worth $267 million on US goods, targeting items like coal, paper, walnuts, tobacco, rice, whiskey and cars after negotiations with Washington failed to yield meaningful progress, CNN reported.

“Turkey is committed to active, robust and reciprocal trade relations with the US — but with the understanding that fairness cannot be one-sided,” Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said in a statement. “We cannot and will not allow Turkey to be wrongly blamed for America’s economic challenges.”

The US enacted 25 per cent tariffs on imported steel and 10 per cent tariffs on imported aluminium in March. Exemptions were initially given to the EU, Canada and Mexico, but the Trump administration let them lapse at the beginning of the month.

Turkey didn’t receive an exemption.

Later, the EU, Canada and Mexico announced retaliatory tariffs against the US. China imposed tariffs on $3 billion of US products in early April in response to the steel and aluminium measures.

Turkey is the world’s eighth largest steel exporter, according to a report prepared in March by the Department of Commerce. The US was Turkey’s top market for steel in 2017.

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