North Korea Cuts Hotline To South, Voids Armistice

North Korea Further Responds To UN Sanctions
In response to UN sanctions imposed last week, North Korea announced on Monday that it has abandoned the armistice signed in 1953 to suspend hostilities with the South and also cut off the “hotline” with South Korea.

An editorial in the state-run newspaper said, “As the armistice agreement has been nullified, no one can expect what will happen next,” according to The Washington Post.

Although not a good sign, these actions are not unprecedented. Since it was installed in 1971, the hotline has been cut off five times and the North has “voided” the armistice nearly a dozen times in the past 20 years, the last time in 2009.

China’s Exasperation With North Korea Boosts International Efforts
Richard Gowan notes the different position China has adopted toward international efforts with regard to North Korea than concerning either Syria or Iran.

Acknowledging the doubts surrounding China’s vote in favor of UN Security Council sanctions on North Korea, Gowan sees “this display of hard-nosed but productive deal-making” with the US over sanctions as a “positive contrast to the appallingly protracted Security Council diplomacy over Syria. It also represents an improvement on Sino-American interactions over other recent Korean crises, including the sinking of a South Korean warship in 2010.”

Gowan adds that as much as it can be seen as progress, China’s renewed engagement at the UN may only signal that it “will be at best an ambivalent partner for the West in dealing with many future conflicts” and that it will “remain a surprisingly marginal player in crisis diplomacy beyond its neighborhood.”

United Nations Scheduled To Meet On Pyongyang’s Human Rights Abuses

The International Herald Tribune reports today that the UN Human Rights Council will gather to consider forming a commission of inquiry to investigate North Korean human rights abuses. The proposal could be approved by the council in March.

Aid To Egypt: Should Their Human Rights Record Matter?
Elliott Abrams of the Council on Foreign Relations contends that if the US is to remain committed to human rights in Egypt and abroad aid to Egypt must be linked to its economic needs and policies and to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s commitment to “protect the democratic principles that the Egyptian people fought so hard to secure.”

More Americans Taking On Part-Time Work
Catherine Rampell notes in her New York Times column that since 2009 there has been an increase in the number of Americans performing part-time work.

“Basically all of the growth in part-time workers has been among people reluctantly working few hours because of either slack business conditions or an inability to find a full-time job. Together these people are considered to be working part time “for economic reasons.” Their numbers have grown by 3.4 million since the downturn began.

The number of people working part time “for noneconomic reasons,” on the other hand, has fallen by 639,000 since the recession began.

 

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