Wednesday News Headlines

Concern After North Korea Says It Will Launch Satellite
Japan and South Korea have responded with great concern to this week’s announcement by North Korea of its intent to launch a ­satellite via a rocket that could be used to test nuclear technology.

Pyongyang informed the United Nations of its plan drawing almost immediate condemnation by the international community. While Japan has alerted its military to prepare to shoot down any launched satellite, China has called for restraint from the involved parties.

One of the reasons why Japan and South Korea are particularly concerned is that North Korea has improved their capability to hide its nuclear activity.

For example, notes the blog 38 North, in 2013 there was visible activity prior to Pyongyang’s nuclear test, while there was “very little preparation activity was visible leading up to the 2016 test” because they have improved “operational security and concealment procedures, limiting what is visible to commercial imaging satellites.”

According to Reuters, a statement from South Korea’s presidential Blue House, warned Pyongyang to reconsider its decision.

“North Korea’s notice of the plan to launch a long-range missile, coming at a time when there is a discussion for Security Council sanctions on its fourth nuclear test, is a direct challenge to the international community. We strongly warn that the North will pay a severe price … if it goes ahead with the long-range missile launch plan,” the statement said.

US Policy Dooming Syrian Talks To Failure
A successful resolution of the Syrian war is unlikely to emerge from talks in Geneva partly because the Obama administration itself has increased the odds of failure by dealing with Russia as an honest broker that might have a role in the future transition of power from Syrian President Bashar Assad, writes Steven Heydemann of the Brookings Institute.

Should the Geneva talks overcome the current obstacles, they are more likely to be productive if the United States matches Russian resolve rather than embraces ambiguity simply to get key players to the table. Although [Secretary of State John] Kerry insists that U.S. policy has not changed, his claims have little credibility among Syrians. The opposition’s perception of a U.S. tilt toward Russia reinforces the [High Negotiation Committee’s] reluctance to be drawn into a process in which its position has been undermined by the United States,” he argues.



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