David Lee, CEO of Shakr Media spoke at The Korea Society on Korea and Startups.
David Lee is the founder & CEO of Shakr Media, the Seoul & SF-based startup that makes great video accessible to everyone. David has built an international development team in Seoul, while raising $2.75M in venture capital from both Korean & U.S. investors including NHN Investment and 500 Startups.
Under David’s leadership, Shakr has appeared as a presenter at Techcrunch Disrupt’s Startup Battlefield in Beijing, and has earned top honors at beLAUNCH 2013 in Seoul and beGLOBAL 2013 in Palo Alto.
Attention to South Korea becoming the next Global Hub for Tech Startups comes from Alan McGlade of Forbes Magazine:“American business has long led the way in high tech density or the proportion of businesses that engage in activities such as Internet software and services, hardware and semiconductors. The US is fertile ground for tech start-ups with access to capital and a culture that celebrates risk taking. Other countries have made their mark on the world stage, competing to be prominent tech and innovation hubs. Israel has been lauded as a start-up nation with several hundred companies getting funded by venture capital each year. A number of these companies are now being acquired by the likes of Apple, Facebook and Google. Finland and Sweden have attracted notice by bringing us Angry Birds and Spotify among others. But a new start-up powerhouse is on the horizon – South Korea.”
Bloomberg News recently published the Bloomberg Global Innovation Index and ranked South Korea first among all nations by comparing a group of indicators such as research & development capability, productivity, tech density and patent activity. South Korea’s ranking is not a surprise. In recent decades, South Korea has transformed into an economic heavyweight, having systematically applied substantial resources to research and development. As a result, South Korea has become the world leader in patent activity, and information and communication technology. The country has the highest broadband penetration in the world at 97 percent and is a leader in broadband speed with an average peak connection of close to 50 megabits per second.
Increasingly young technologists are fueling a fledgling start-up scene that is led by mobile game developers and social media innovators. This is complemented by entrepreneurs returning from overseas with an eye on conquering the globe. These entrepreneurs are coming back with a sense of how to take on the US market, a greater willingness to assume risk, and an interest in building things that aren’t just made for Korea. This has attracted the notice of American technology companies. Google has taken an active role in nurturing South Korean companies, introducing their favorites in the US to help them build a global profile. A company called Sparklabs was formed a little over a year ago with offices in Seoul and San Francisco to incubate Korean start-ups.
It is logical for South Korea to follow this path. The country is smaller than the state of New York, is not rich in oil or other natural resources, and has limited agriculture and manufacturing capacity. Korean’s must promote technology and innovation to be competitive as a nation since it is not enough to just contend on cost or scale. While the South Korean Chaebols, or large family-controlled corporate groups, focus on exporting and manufacturing, there is a clear recognition that South Korea needs to have a more diverse economy. Thus, the tides are shifting towards supporting smaller businesses and promoting entrepreneurship.
Many of the fundamentals are already in place. Just as Samsung transformed the consumer electronics business, Korean start-ups are poised to have an explosive impact on digital media and services.
To me the most interesting thing I heard from Mr. David Lee was his description of the recent evolution of the Korean psyche – it is really based on the fact that the country developed so much in the last 20 years and the fact that the young people have taken ownership of this success. He said that “they feel they own the story and are proud of it” and that this is the secret of their success. This success is here – in he Palo Alto and New York City High Tech region and in the fact that many of these young people go now back to Korea and are ready to be creative at home.
Sounded interesting – and led me to decide the following day to go and have lunch – under the New York Restaurant Week plan – at the newest high-quality Korean Restaurant in town – the Kristabelli (near Fifth Avenue at 8 W. 36th Street). As expected – the place filled up with young Koreans.
The lower cost these two weeks was seemingly what brought in this clientele. They came not just because it was an eatery – but seemingly to enjoy their time there. It is al these little dishes and close attention to the food that stretched out my lunch for nearly two hours. The three course meal ($25)
Gujeolplan (an Emperor’s Assortment of nine different thinly sliced sauteed vegetables and beef served with blini stile small crepes, a rib eye cut small barbeque with lots of additives and some blini in a vinaigrette liquid, and a terrific ice cream bread pudding for desert – and paired with three containers of Korean wines ($15) – a rice wine infused with sweet potato vodka, a black raspberry wine and a plum flower wine. Quite interesting when one thinks that 20 years ago Korean immigrants in New York were known only as vegetable marketeers and for finger-nail cosmetic stores.
Thinking of our website and the fact that from start I had Korea as one of the promising Nations on my homepage – I feel totally justified. Further, obviously, helped by the US originally, now I think that further advancement by Korea calls for a more independent policy by South Korea.
It is obvious that all powers – China, Japan, India, the US, Russia – have no interest in the reunification of Korea – but the Koreans themselves ought to keep Germany in mind and learn from the German experience that through re-unification they have a chance to grow. This is simply a question of an internal market that makes them independent of the vagaries of a global market. Forget any kind of revenge – just work hard to supply the unending needs of a backward North Korea like Germany did for East Germany. This will then bring Korea into the front line of the emerged powers and the real competitor with China in its region.
Further – looking up the maps – North Korea borders Manchuria of China – the Jilin and Liaoning Provinces and there is an Autonomous Prefecture for Koreans at the border – Yanbian – in the Jilin Province. The kind of place that might someday lead to conflict. Also, the islands in the Yellow Sea (Korea Bay and Bohai Sea) were divided amicably between North Korea and China in 1962 as per the ethnicity of the inhabitants. This again may eventually be disputed.
Some more about the visit of UNSG Ban Ki-moon to Jerusalem, and what he learned about the Middle East from Israeli leaders on location. Will this show in the way the UN Secretariat speaks about the States of the region?
According to Al-Monitor:
“UN Leader’s Visit to Israel Shows Waning US Influence in Mideast.”
By: Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor Israel Pulse Posted on August 23.
While on a visit to Israel on Aug. 15-16, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held some interesting talks, receiving the red carpet treatment from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who oversees the slow yet chanceless negotiations with the Palestinians.
I would like to suggest to you not to talk about the settlements, Livni told Ban. At around that time, Israel was issuing new tenders for construction in the territories, mainly in Jerusalem and the large settlement blocs. Ban wanted to know why. Since your position on this issue is well-known, Livni replied, I would propose that you do not talk about it at this particular time. According to her, any statements to that effect at this juncture would only render the negotiations harder, forcing Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) to say something harsh, which could perhaps then undercut the possibility of progress. Abu Mazen cannot come off as more moderate than the UN. He, too, faces an opposition.
Livni explained to Ban how sensitive the situation was, imploring him not to make the same mistake the Americans had made during US President Barack Obama’s first term. Back then, the administration put Abu Mazen on a high horse from which one cannot dismount peacefully. You can only fall off, and they left him to his own devices. Finally, the negotiations resumed, she told him, and the future of the settlements will have to be determined in the bilateral discussions. That’s why at this point it’s better to be smart than right and leave the talking to us (the recent sentences are my own interpretation.)
Livni adopted the same approach when the discussion touched on the Palestinian prisoners-murderers whom Israel had released just two days earlier. What I would like to suggest to you, she said, is not to issue a statement in support of the release. When the secretary-general wanted to know why, she explained to him that some 85% of the Israeli public was opposed to the release. If you find out what those people were convicted of, you would understand too. No other country in the world would have released such prisoners. This is an open Israeli wound. This move is hard for everyone, myself included, mainly because Israel did not get anything real in return.
In other words, Livni suggested to Ban that he let the Israelis and Palestinians run their own affairs without interfering by making unnecessary statements. When all is said and done, the peace treaties that Israel signed with the Arabs — Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians in Oslo — were always accomplished through direct negotiations between the parties without involvement, interference, pressure or threats. Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin made such a strategic decision and executed it, and the same is true of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The world can only stand in the way. Whenever the world meddled, wielded pressure or lectured, it all came crashing down.
Then, it was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s turn. That was interesting, too. Netanyahu is a weak prime minister, a failed manager and a controversial leader. However, when it comes to public diplomacy he is unmatched. Having studied Ban, he knew exactly how to strike a chord with him.
Netanyahu presented Ban the ongoing Palestinian incitement against Israel that comes across from the Palestinian curriculum which continues to call for Israel’s obliteration from the face of the earth, while describing Jews as “monkeys and pigs,” etc. Then it was time for [Prime Minister Netanyahu] Bibi to get to the punch line. The prime minister compared the Palestinian campaign of incitement and lies against Israel to North Korea’s unending and unbridled incitement against South Korea. Bibi had a long list of examples which left the secretary-general dumbfounded.
Then, as was to be expected, Bibi proceeded to discuss the Iranian nuclear program. He drew a similar comparison to North Korea, or, to put it more precisely, to North Korea’s nuclear project. Netanyahu masterfully delineated the similarities between Iran’s nuclear program and that of North Korea. The latter didn’t give a hoot about the world or the United States, until South Korea woke up one morning only to find out that its neighbor to the north has a nuclear bomb.
In that case, too, the world believed that diplomacy could postpone or do away with the bad news — a belief which proved to be baseless. When Netanyahu switched over to the Iranian nuclear project, he let Ban understand how dangerous Iran is to world peace — not just to Israel. He explained to the secretary-general how messianic Iran’s leadership is and how it is guided by radical religious edicts. The Iranians must not be allowed to do what the North Koreans did, Netanyahu said. Iran is a huge country with immense oil deposits and high capabilities. Such a country cannot be isolated the way the West has isolated North Korea. A nuclear Iran will exact a heavy price from the world — a price it cannot afford.
The comic relief in the meeting between Ban and Netanyahu took place when the Israeli premier started talking about “construction in the settlements.” Most of the construction takes place in Jerusalem — Israel’s capital. It is carried out in places that everyone understands will remain in Israeli hands even in the settling of a final status arrangement, Netanyahu explained. For example, we build in Gilo, which is a neighborhood in Jerusalem across the Green Line, the premier explained. Then took the UN secretary-general to the window and pointed out the neighborhood. Can you possibly imagine that we won’t be able to build here, a place you can see from the prime minister’s office? Bibi asked.
Fortunately, Ban is not familiar with Jerusalem.
On the one hand, Bibi is right. The Palestinians know all too well that Gilo will remain in Israeli hands even in the settling of a final status arrangement. On the other hand, you cannot see Gilo from the prime minister’s office. What Bibi showed Ban is the Israel Museum, which is not too far from his office. But Ban is from South Korea. As far as he is concerned, the Israel Museum can represent Gilo, can’t it?
Incidentally, Ban did not hear anything substantially different from the leader of the opposition, Knesset member Shelly Yachimovich (chairwoman of the Labor party). When it comes to these issues, there is a consensus in Israel.
Later during his visit, it felt like the UN secretary-general had listened closely to what the Israeli leadership had said to him in that room. His statements sounded relatively mellifluous to Israeli ears.
I would assume that Ban is well-aware of the fact that the only capital in the Middle East where he can move about freely nowadays — without the fear of being targeted by rockets, car bombs, chemical missiles, mass demonstrations or other similar perils — is Jerusalem. He cannot do this in Cairo, Damascus, Beirut, Tripoli or Sanaa. Even Amman is not what it used to be. By way of comparison, Jerusalem and Ramallah are a paradise of leisure, although this is temporary, too. In the Middle East the tables can turn in a matter of a split second.
Since I last described here in Al-Monitor the relative quiet in Jerusalem and Ramallah, Israel was hit by rockets fired at Eilat on Aug. 13 (which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system) and at the Western Galilee on Aug. 22 (likewise intercepted). On Aug. 19, 25 Egyptian policemen were executed by armed militants in Rafah in the Sinai, a car bomb exploded in Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah’s Dahiyeh quarter in Beirut on Aug. 15 and the Syrian regime killed hundreds, if not thousands of civilians in a chemical attack in east Damascus on Aug. 21.
Whenever we think that the Middle East has hit rock bottom, we hear heavy pounding from below, and then it turns out that hitting rock bottom is still quite a ways away. There’s one truth, however, that’s emerging right before our eyes: The West is losing control over the events. Western deterrence is already nonexistent. The days when everybody would hold their breath waiting for the daily press briefing from the White House are long gone. US President Barack Obama has made a mockery of himself, so much so that nobody really cares about what America thinks, says or does.
This is best illustrated when drawing a comparison between the events in Cairo and Syria. The Americans had long ago set a “red line” for Syria, namely the use of chemical weapons.
However, when a high-ranking Israeli intelligence officer revealed that chemical weapons had been used in Syria, the Americans gagged, got muddled, denied and ultimately confirmed this. Preposterously enough, they announced that “there might have been a possibility” that the Syrian regime had indeed masterminded the recent chemical attack in Damascus. Great. If that’s the case, what will you do? Nothing, it seems.
I’m not calling on the Americans to act in Syria. If I were the US president, I would not intervene in Syria no matter what. Anyone in his right mind has to steer clear from that. Intervention in Syria would pay off and be deemed legitimate only if it were supported by the entire international community. Since this is not going to be the case, there’s no point in goading this or that sheriff to hold the reins in Syria. The world has to come to terms with the new reality: You cannot avert every horror across the globe. Using moral principles, it’s very hard to decide between two similar devils — such as the warring factions in Syria.
It is against this backdrop that the Western conduct in connection with Egypt is becoming more perplexing. My friends, when will it dawn on you that what the Egyptian army is trying to do is to prevent replicating the harrowing reality in Syria? The nonsense of Western democracy and values are unsuitable for societies that still enslave women, minorities and weak castes.
The Americans placed their bet on the Muslim Brotherhood two years ago and now they find it hard to accept that they bet on the wrong horse. The Egyptian public doesn’t want “the brothers” to dictate their life, laws and customs. In Egypt, there are no checks and balances as one would find in a true democracy, at least not for now. So the only way of coping with the events is to determine that having the Egyptian army take control for a transitional period and disperse the riots with force is better than the alternative.
What’s the alternative? That’s simple. The alternative is an armed gang that takes 25 plainclothes men off two minibuses, forces them to lie on the ground and shoots all of them — one by one — to death in broad daylight. This is the face of radical Islam, of which all of us — regardless of religion, sex, color, race or nationality — should be afraid of.
Ben Caspit is a contributing writer for Al-Monitor’s Israel Pulse. He is also a senior columnist and political analyst for Israeli newspapers, and has a daily radio show and regular TV shows on politics and Israel.
UPDATED: Jeremi Suri of Texas has an answer to Robert Parry – “Bomb North Korea before It’s Too Late” this may avoid having to bomb Iran later. // US Secretary of State John Kerry is in Beijing and Seoul this week-end write Washington and Tokyo.
Op-Ed Contributor of the New York Times
Bomb North Korea, Before It’s Too Late.
By JEREMI SURI,
The UK and the US Welcome the decision taken by the United Nations General Assembly meeting on the Arms Trade Treaty – 2 April 2013. With 22 countries abstaining – including China, India and Indonesia, it is quite untrue to say that it was accepted by consensus. Thanks to Matthew R. Lee for pointing this out – it takes good reporting to get facts about the UN. And What Probability For A US Senate Ratification?
Statement by UK Ambassador Joanne Adamson, Head of Delegation, to the United Nations General Assembly meeting on the Arms Trade Treaty – 2 April 2013
Thank you, Mr President.
Last Thursday, we were disappointed that success was deferred. Today, we have taken a decision that will save lives. It was the right decision, and we are proud of it.
Today, I have seen statements from my Prime Minister, my Foreign Secretary, my Deputy Prime Minister, and I have been in touch with our Foreign Office Minister, Mr Alistair Burt, who has been watching these negotiations with baited breath for the last two weeks.
This is a great success for the United Nations today and we in the UK are extremely proud.
Our action today is the product of ten years of campaigning and seven years of negotiation. But now, we must look ahead, to the future generations that will have a better chance to live safe and peaceful lives if this Treaty fulfills its promise.
It is up to us to make this happen. Today, we have shown what the United Nations can achieve. We have a strong text. We made it together. But it is the global implementation of this text that will make a real difference. The United Kingdom stands ready to play its part. We will work with others to ensure this Treaty matters.
So what we have achieved today is a significant milestone on our journey to a better world. But it is just one part of the process. We cannot rest now. Today is the end of the beginning. Tomorrow we begin the practical work of changing lives and improving the future.
As we move forward we will keep together that team – the team of diplomats, of people working in civil society, of people from our industry, of our politicians, of public opinion. I pay tribute to everyone who has been involved in this long journey and my message to the conference today is let’s move forward together.
Don’t look back in anger.
Let’s take the next step.
And the US joins its voice for the regulation of passing on arms to other countries:
Mr. President, the United States is proud to have been able to co-sponsor and vote in favor of adopting the Arms Trade Treaty. The treaty is strong, balanced, effective, and implementable, and we believe it can command wide support. We join others in congratulating Ambassador Peter Woolcott for his tireless efforts in guiding the negotiation.
The treaty is the product of a long, intensive negotiation, and I know that no nation, including my own, got everything it may have sought in the final text. The result, however, is an instrument that succeeds in raising the bar on common standards for regulating international trade in conventional arms while helping to ensure that legitimate trade in such arms will not be unduly hindered.
The negotiations remained true to the original mandate for them from UN General Assembly Resolution 64/48, which called for negotiating a treaty with the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms and for the negotiations to be conducted in an open and transparent manner, on the basis of consensus. The consensus rule remains important
Mr. President, as the United States has urged from the outset, this Treaty sets a floor – not a ceiling – for responsible national policies and practices for the regulation of international trade in conventional arms. We look forward to all countries having effective national control systems and procedures to manage international conventional arms transfers, as the United States does already.
We believe that our negotiations have resulted in a treaty that provides a clear standard, in Article 6, for when a transfer of conventional arms is absolutely prohibited. This article both reflects existing international law and, in paragraph three, would extend it by establishing a specific prohibition on the transfer of conventional arms when a state party knows that the transfer will be used in the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, or the enumerated war and other crimes. Article 7 requires a state party to conduct a national assessment of the risk that a proposed export could be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian law or international human rights law, as well as acts of terrorism or transnational organized crime. Taken together, these articles provide a robust and complementary framework that will promote responsible transfer of decisions by states parties.
Thank you, Mr. President.
At UN, ATT Passes With 22 Abstentions, Woolcott Tells ICP of Speakers List
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, April 2 — When the Arms Trade Treaty was blocked on March 28 under the rules of consensus, the headlines read that only three countries were against it: Syria, North Korea and Iran.
But even then, in speeches like Sudan’s and Belarus’, one could hear abstentions coming.
And Tuesday in the UN General Assembly there were 23 abstentions, including the two most populous countries on Earth, China and India, and the most populous predominantly Muslim country, Indonesia.
Afterward, Inner City Press asked ATT president Peter Woolcott, after thanking him on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, about criticism of his allowing, before a promised ruling, Mexico and others to make an argument against the UN meaning of consensus.
He replied that there was speakers list that he followed. He said he personally does not favor negotiating under the rule of consensus. Other might say: it showed.
Inner City Press asked Mexico’s Luis Alfonso de Alba, who gave a thoughtful answer about “no vetoes,” that may resonate in the UN Budget Committee.
It was announced that Angola did not abstain, but voted Yes (hence, 22 abstentions, still quite populous.)
In speeches before Tuesday’s vote, as Syria’s Bashar Ja’afari spoke, US Ambassador Susan Rice was walking out. After that, a full hour into the speeches, Qatar’s delegation rolled in. They ended up abstaining. Qatar supports rebels in Syria.
Sudan on the other hand said it was abstaining, citing the failure to address the arming of “mutinous” groups, like the SPLM-North and rebels in Darfur.
Russia, which by a point of order Thursday night put an end to the Mexico-launched attempt to redefine consensus, on Tuesday morning zeroed in on what knowledge of genocide might mean, in Article 6.3. Its Ambassador Churkin said Russia would not have broken consensus on March 28, but would now abstain, as did China. It’s hard to call this consensus.
U.N. Treaty Is First Aimed at Regulating Global Arms Sales.
Published by The New York Times on-line April 2, 2013 – 107 Comments
Readers’ Comments: “There are too many in Congress who owe allegiance to the NRA and the armaments industry and not to the best interests of the U.S.” RHSchumann, Bonn
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to approve a pioneering treaty aimed at regulating the enormous global trade in conventional weapons, for the first time linking sales to the human rights records of the buyers.
Although implementation is years away and there is no specific enforcement mechanism, proponents say the treaty would for the first time force sellers to consider how their customers will use the weapons and to make that information public.
The goal is to curb the sale of weapons that kill tens of thousands of people every year — by, for example, making it harder for Russia to argue that its arms deals with Syria are legal under international law.
The treaty, which took seven years to negotiate, reflects growing international sentiment that the multibillion-dollar weapons trade needs to be held to a moral standard.
The hope is that even nations reluctant to ratify the treaty will feel public pressure to abide by its provisions.
The treaty calls for sales to be evaluated on whether the weapons will be used to break humanitarian law, foment genocide or war crimes, abet terrorism or organized crime or slaughter women and children.
“Finally we have seen the governments of the world come together and say ‘Enough!’ ” said Anna MacDonald, the head of arms control for Oxfam International, one of the many rights groups that pushed for the treaty. “It is time to stop the poorly regulated arms trade. It is time to bring the arms trade under control.”
She pointed to the Syrian civil war, where 70,000 people have been killed, as a hypothetical example, noting that Russia argues that sales are permitted because there is no arms embargo.
“This treaty won’t solve the problems of Syria overnight, no treaty could do that, but it will help to prevent future Syrias,” Ms. MacDonald said. “It will help to reduce armed violence. It will help to reduce conflict.”
Members of the General Assembly voted 154 to 3 to approve the Arms Trade Treaty, with 23 abstentions — many from nations with dubious recent human rights records like Bahrain, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
The vote came after more than two decades of organizing. Humanitarian groups started lobbying after the 1991 Persian Gulf war to curb the trade in conventional weapons, having realized that Iraq had more weapons than France, diplomats said.
The treaty establishes an international forum of states that will review published reports of arms sales and publicly name violators. Even if the treaty will take time to become international law, its standards will be used immediately as political and moral guidelines, proponents said.
“It will help reduce the risk that international transfers of conventional arms will be used to carry out the world’s worst crimes, including terrorism, genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement after the United States, the biggest arms exporter, voted with the majority for approval.
But the abstaining countries included China and Russia, which also are leading sellers, raising concerns about how many countries will ultimately ratify the treaty. It is scheduled to go into effect after 50 nations have ratified it. Given the overwhelming vote, diplomats anticipated that it could go into effect in two to three years, relative quickly for an international treaty.
Proponents said that if enough countries ratify the treaty, it will effectively become the international norm. If major sellers like the United States and Russia choose to sit on the sidelines while the rest of the world negotiates what weapons can be traded globally, they will still be affected by the outcome, activists said.
The treaty’s ratification prospects in the Senate appear bleak, at least in the short term, in part because of opposition by the gun lobby. More than 50 senators signaled months ago that they would oppose the treaty — more than enough to defeat it, since 67 senators must ratify it.
Among the opponents is Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican. In a statement last month, he said that the treaty contained “unnecessarily harsh treatment of civilian-owned small arms” and violated the right to self-defense and United States sovereignty.
In a bow to American concerns, the preamble states that it is focused on international sales, not traditional domestic use, but the National Rifle Association has vowed to fight ratification anyway.
The General Assembly vote came after efforts to achieve a consensus on the treaty among all 193 member states of the United Nations failed last week, with Iran, North Korea and Syria blocking it. The three, often ostracized, voted against the treaty again on Tuesday.
Vitaly I. Churkin, the Russian envoy to the United Nations, said Russian misgivings about what he called ambiguities in the treaty, including how terms like genocide would be defined, had pushed his government to abstain. But neither Russia nor China rejected it outright.
“Having the abstentions from two major arms exporters lessens the moral weight of the treaty,” said Nic Marsh, a proponent with the Peace Research Institute in Oslo. “By abstaining they have left their options open.”
Numerous states, including Bolivia, Cuba and Nicaragua, said they had abstained because the human rights criteria were ill defined and could be abused to create political pressure. Many who abstained said the treaty should have banned sales to all armed groups, but supporters said the guidelines did that effectively while leaving open sales to liberation movements facing abusive governments.
Supporters also said that over the long run the guidelines should work to make the criteria more standardized, rather than arbitrary, as countries agree on norms of sale in a trade estimated at $70 billion annually.
The treaty covers tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber weapons, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and launchers, small arms and light weapons. Ammunition exports are subject to the same criteria as the other war matériel. Imports are not covered.
India, a major importer, abstained because of its concerns that its existing contracts might be blocked, despite compromise language to address that.
Support was particularly strong among African countries — even if the compromise text was weaker than some had anticipated — with most governments asserting that in the long run, the treaty would curb the arms sales that have fueled many conflicts.
Even some supporters conceded that the highly complicated negotiations forced compromises that left significant loopholes. The treaty focuses on sales, for example, and not on all the ways in which conventional arms are transferred, including as gifts, loans, leases and aid.
“This is a very good framework to build on,” said Peter Woolcott, the Australian diplomat who presided over the negotiations. “But it is only a framework.”
Rick Gladstone contributed reporting from New York, and Jonathan Weisman from Washington.
New Japanese activism – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan is in Mongolia to strengthen the ties between the two countries. It is about economic relations and energy, and also about North Korea. Then, April 8 he will host Mexico in Tokyo as part of the belated Campaign to join the Trans-Pacific Alliance.
ULAN BATOR – After meeting with Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj and Prime Minister Norov Altankhuyag in Ulan Bator, Abe told a news conference the two sides will accelerate ongoing bilateral negotiations toward inking a free-trade accord. The two sides agreed to hold a third round of trade liberalization talks in the Mongolian capital from Tuesday.
“As Mongolia is rich in natural resources, Japan’s technological cooperation will lead to a win-win scenario for both countries,” Abe, the first Japanese prime minister to visit Mongolia in nearly seven years, said after the talks.
Abe also pushed the participation of Japanese companies in developing one of the largest coal deposits in the world, at the Tavan Tolgoi site in the Gobi Desert, during the talks. Japan hopes to secure cheaper supplies of natural resources abroad while its nuclear power stations remains stalled in view of the Fukushima disaster.
The suspension of atomic power plants will drive up utilities’ fuel costs for the operation of thermal power stations to a sky-high ¥3.2 trillion in fiscal 2012, which ends Sunday, far in excess of levels seen before the 2011 meltdowns crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
As well as its abundance of coal, Mongolia is also known for rich mineral resources such as gold, copper and uranium, while rare metals and rare earths deposits could also possibly be extracted.
Aside from economic issues, Tokyo also considers Mongolia an important ally from a diplomatic and security perspective since it has diplomatic relations with North Korea — unlike Japan, which has no formal ties with the communist country — and borders China to the south and Russia to the north.
On North Korea, Abe said the two countries had agreed to deal with its recent provocations to the international community in line with U.N. Security Council resolutions. Given Ulan Bator’s ties with Pyongyang, Abe was especially eager to secure its support in resolving the long-standing issue of the North’s abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and ’80s, government officials said.
Last November, Ulan Bator hosted the first talks between senior Japanese and North Korean officials since 2008 on the abduction issue.
Meanwhile, Japan, the largest donor to Mongolia, also intends to provide technical assistance to help the country cope with serious air pollution in the capital and assist the building of new transport infrastructure as a way of alleviating heavy traffic in and around it.
Japan was Mongolia’s fourth-largest trading partner last year, when the fast-growing country’s economy jumped 17.3 percent from a year earlier. China, Russia and the United States occupied the top three positions.
UPDATED: THIS IS NOT A JOKE – Syria, North Korea and Iran are leading the UN with Russian backing. Can the UK wrestle the UN Secretary-General to take position on an INTERNATIONAL ARMS TREATY that is opposed by those three Ingenious States?
THE UPDATE DIRECTLY FROM THE UN CORRIDORS : On the Arms Trade Treaty – So Some Try to Re-Define Consensus.
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, March 28 — The Arms Trade Treaty talks were to have concluded this afternoon; chairman Peter Woolcott has scheduled a press stakeout at 6 pm.
But as delegates continued milling around in Conference Room 1, Inner City Press observed the UN Television stakeout being taken apart at 6:10 pm.
By 6:45 pm, Iran, North Korea and Syria had formally objected, blocking consensus.
Mexico and some others argued that the ATT could still be adopted — without a vote — since there is no definition of consensus.
But Syria cited a definition, from the World Health Organization in 1987. Russia echoed that. Iran went further, saying that those trying to change the rules should “leave the building.”
Iran had earlier spoken up with sample objections; sources told Inner City Press their main issue was the inclusion of a reference to UN Security Council Chapter 7 sanctions, which they are under.
North Korea, too, is under them. So is Sudan, but several sources told Inner City Press Sudan does not want to stand alone, or even, as a source put it “be seen as one of the rogues.”
But there are principles, and the proponents of the ATT if they wanted consensus might have paid more attention to them.
As delegates milled around on the first floor, Inner City Press nearly alone staked out the second floor protocol room NLB-2109. Iran’s Permanent Representative came out with his Syrian counter-part Bashar Ja’afari. Soon thereafter, the objections were made, then the attempts to re-define consensus. Only at the UN.
Privately a speaker said, we can’t just change the rules. Another said, the US pushed for the ATT to be under the rule of consensus, to be able to block it — then “pushed Iran to block it.”
Inner City Press asked the head of the US delegation about this; he did not disagree, including saying, it’s not a criticism. Alright then.
Update of 9:30 pm – We’d be told there would be a Woolcott stakeout, to get his side. But it’s canceled. To be fair we’ll make his argument: there was a list of speakers.
Update of 10:26 pm – after a long stand off resulting in the phrase, “there was no consensus and the draft decision was not adopted.” There’s laughter, cheering – and a cloud over the UN.
General Assembly could vote on arms treaty next week.
The United Nations was prevented today by Syria, North Korea and Iran from adopting a proposed international arms treaty.
But the U.K., on behalf of multiple countries, sent the draft treaty to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, asking the General Assembly to vote quickly on it. “Most people in the world want regulation and those are the voices that need to be heard,” says Joanne Adamson, the chief U.K. delegate.
Even the United Nations Foundation (UNF) seems to have had enough of this UN. What will the US of President Obama say? Can the US oppose the Conventional Arms Control Treaty as previous US Administrations did?
UK Statement on the Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty delivered by Ambassador Jo Adamson – 28 March 2013
A good strong treaty has been blocked by the DPRK, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Syria. But most people in most of the world want regulation and those other voices that need to be heard. So we have sent a text for decision by the United Nations General Assembly.
This treaty will be the first international, legally binding agreement on the transfer of small arms and light-weapons, and the seven UN categories of conventional arms.
It will have an explicit requirement for a national control system, with controls to apply to the broadest range of arms.
It will prohibit exports that will be used for genocide, crimes against humanity, or a broad range of war crimes.
It will have a mandatory requirement for arms exports – including ammunition, munitions, and military parts and components – to be assessed on the basis of criteria including peace and security, human rights, international humanitarian law, terrorism, which many had called for, and transnational organised crime.
It will require mandatory refusals for transfers that pose unacceptable risks.
It will have a requirement to take into account in export licensing decisions, the risks of serious acts of gender based violence, violence against women and children and corruption.
It will have a requirement for states to regulate arms brokering.
It will have mandatory record keeping and regular reporting on authorization.
It will have regulation, where feasible, on imports, transit and transhipment.
It will have strong provisions to prevent diversion of weapons to illicit trafficking or use. And those provisions on diversions will have been negotiated, and I use the word negotiated, in a process which you established for us, the states, to take our own responsibility and to produce by consensus within the United Nations, which we cherish go dearly, a consensus outcome. That new article which we saw in the course of this conference was negotiated following many requests from countries who said that the 26th of July text was not strong enough in this area. It was negotiated. It is in the treaty.
It contains provisions to help the treaty keep up to date with perhaps future, new types of weaponry, and to take our treaty, which we will have up to date and to make sure it is future-proofed. This will be a treaty on which we today can build. This is the sense of this room. This is why we are working right now to bring this treaty, which you gave us the opportunity to create, home. You gave us that opportunity. The overwhelming majority took that opportunity and negotiated this treaty.
I pay tribute to you. I cannot hold back my disappointment that we have been unable to take the opportunity to build on negotiations, which from my perspective, were rigorous, organised, transparent, and which involved Member States of the United Nations taking their responsibilities working on texts late into the night and producing, with your help, an excellent text.
This is success deferred. This is not failure. We will have the Arms Trade Treaty. We will go to UNGA soon. I pay huge tribute to you for your fairness, for your rigor, for demanding high standards of us. That is the kind of Arms Trade we want to have. It is the same as the way you have run this conference.
I thank you, Mr President.
UK Press Release: Foreign Secretary remains determined to secure Arms Trade Treaty
Foreign Secretary signals UK’s continued commitment to securing an Arms Trade Treaty following failure to reach consensus in the United Nations.
The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said:
“I am deeply disappointed that the negotiations on an Arms Trade Treaty closed today without consensus. After 7 years of intensive work, the international community had never had a better chance to agree a global, legally binding Treaty that would make the world a safer place.
“The UK has played a leading role and spared no effort to secure a Treaty which would be both strong and globally applied, based on consensus.
“We have come very close. It is disappointing that three countries blocked the historic agreement that lay within our reach.
“UK Ministers and officials in London, New York and in overseas capitals worked intensively to achieve the strongest possible outcome. I would like to thank everyone involved, including our close partners in civil society and industry, who have worked so hard together towards our common goal, and whose disappointment we share.
“This Treaty is too important for us to let it end here. The overwhelming majority of the international community want this Treaty and we are determined to take it forward.
“We will now focus our efforts on securing the adoption of the Treaty at the UN General Assembly as soon as possible. We will encourage the widest possible support for it, so that it delivers its promise of greater security, protecting human rights, challenging poverty and helping to secure sustainable development across the globe.
“When adopted, this will be the first international, legally-binding Treaty setting controls on the transfers of weapons. It will prohibit transfers that would be used for genocide or war crimes. Arms exports will be refused if they pose unacceptable risks. Strong steps will be taken to prevent weapons being diverted into the illegal market. Authorisations of exports will be reported and arms brokering regulated. It will also protect the legitimate trade in arms and promote international collaboration.
“The UK will not rest until we have secured an effective global Arms Trade Treaty.”
From the United States: Statement by Secretary Kerry on the U.S. Support for the Arms Trade Treaty 0n 3-15-13
The United States looks forward to working with our international partners at the upcoming conference from March 18-28 to reach consensus on an Arms Trade Treaty that advances global security and respects national sovereignty and the legitimate arms trade. We supported and actively participated in negotiations on an Arms Trade Treaty held at the United Nations in July 2012. Those negotiations made considerable progress, but ended before a treaty could be concluded. Accordingly, the United States supported a UN General Assembly resolution December 24, 2012 to convene the conference this month to build on those efforts.
The United States is steadfast in its commitment to achieve a strong and effective Arms Trade Treaty that helps address the adverse effects of the international arms trade on global peace and stability. An effective treaty that recognizes that each nation must tailor and enforce its own national export and import control mechanisms can generate the participation of a broad majority of states, help stem the illicit flow of conventional arms across international borders, and have important humanitarian benefits.
The United States could only be party to an Arms Trade Treaty that addresses international transfers of conventional arms solely and does not impose any new requirements on the U.S. domestic trade in firearms or on U.S. exporters. We will not support any treaty that would be inconsistent with U.S. law and the rights of American citizens under our Constitution, including the Second Amendment.
While the international arms trade affects every country, over one hundred states today do not have a system for control of international conventional arms transfers. We support a treaty that will bring all countries closer to existing international best practices, which we already observe, while preserving national decisions to transfer conventional arms responsibly. The international conventional arms trade is, and will continue to be, a legitimate commercial activity. But responsible nations should have in place control systems that will help reduce the risk that a transfer of conventional arms will be used to carry out the world’s worst crimes, including those involving terrorism, and serious human rights violations.
I wish the conference well and hope that we can reach consensus on a treaty that improves global security, advances our humanitarian goals, and enhances U.S. national security by encouraging all nations to establish meaningful systems and standards for regulating international arms transfers and ensuring respect for international law.
Statement of Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Countryman
Arms Trade Treaty Conference
Morning Plenary Session
March 25, 2013
Thank you, Mr. President. For years now, the United States has sought to achieve an Arms Trade Treaty that is strong, meaningful, and implementable — a treaty on which the United States could join consensus, a treaty the U.S. government could sign, and ultimately recommend to our Senate for ratification. Thanks to you, Mr. President and your exceptional team, that goal is in sight and the U.S. will spare no effort to achieve it.
To give you examples of how hard we have worked with you and other delegations, let me mention Article 6, which was just mentioned by our friend from Norway. Last week, we endorsed a suggestion by Japan, which we saw as a sound basis for negotiation, and which led to a discussion among the U.S. and many others that has made real progress towards addressing an important issue. We will, of course, take this latest proposal by Norway into consideration. Article 6 and 7 together are the heart of the treaty, a barrier against the misuse of conventional arms.
We have worked toward a compromise on Article 5.2 but none has been found. In the end, we cannot accept language that is contrary to the plain meaning of the treaty.
My delegation came to this final UN conference prepared to work, as the General Assembly decided, on the basis of the July 26 text, a text that had its flaws but was the result of real, politically balanced compromise, a text that would both be meaningful and attract the widest possible consensus. At that time, 90 countries said they could accept that text. Since that time, your March 22 text is stronger, clearer, and more implementable. I would hope all those who could accept the July text could accept this stronger one.
Let me remind you that this is not an arms control treaty, not a disarmament treaty — it is a trade treaty regulating a legitimate activity. Allow me to comment on its two primary purposes. A minimum requirement for national action is to regulate, in a fashion that will curb abuses against humanity and common sense, what is, nonetheless, a very legitimate international activity: the transfer of conventional arms to enhance, rather than undermine, peace and security — this is the heart of the regulation provisions. This text contains strong language on these points that would bring the world closer to the standard of the United States and other major exporters. On the second major goal, combating diversion, we are prepared to work on meaningful language either in a separate article or in clauses throughout the text. Some diversion occurs between exporter and importer. More diversion occurs after receipt by the importer. To address all aspects of diversion, we are ready to work on meaningful language that expands international cooperation but recognize it must have language that respects domestic jurisdictions over domestic criminal activity.
Let’s be honest with each other; we are barely 48 hours away from a final text. It is much too late to try to reopen some of the hard-fought compromises that were achieved last July — or to push the treaty into something new. The U.S., like other delegations, has been constructive and leaned forward as much as we could, but trying to stretch that attitude into new topics at this point in time simply risks the rubber band snapping back and leaving us with a far less useful result than we already have seen. So I would urge my colleagues to keep their focus on the object we share: ensuring that we produce and agree on, at the end of the week, an instrument that will optimize — not maximize, but optimize — the prospects for completing the full process of making an effective Arms Trade Treaty a working and living instrument.
September 10, 2012 – TODAY’S TOP STORIES of the JAPAN TIMES online:
LATEST OP-ED STORIES:
By RALPH COSSA
The political leadership in Tokyo and Seoul apparently has never learned a cardinal rule of diplomacy: When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
By PAVIN CHACHAVALPONGPUN
ASEAN has assiduously sought to assuage tensions between Japan and China by giving both more room to maneuver so that each feels less victimized.
By FRANK CHING
Although Japan and China re-established diplomatic ties 40 years ago, their territorial dispute over uninhabited islets has left them loath to celebrate.
AND FROM CHINA DAILY:
President Hu Jintao urged the Japanese government on Sunday to realize the seriousness of the tension over the Diaoyu Islands and stop ”nationalization”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday dismissed any talk of a trade war with Europe over a European Commission competition investigation into state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom.
the second Arctic Imperative Summit, August 24–27, 2012, in Anchorage and Girdwood, Alaska – SOME SEE THE CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE ARCTIC AS A CHALLENGE OF OPPORTUNITIES – THE REALISTS VERSUS OUR COMMON CRY – THIS IS A FOUL GAME!
Look at the situation in Syria, and even Egypt, and it does not seem unnatural that a majority of Israeli Arabs prefer continuing being citizens in an Israeli Jewish State with Hebrew as first among equal languages – even though they feel discriminated against – but still have benefits, freedom, and stability.
UN chief: Syria forces shot at monitors trying to reach scene of latest massacre.
Ban Ki-moon condemns massacre at Mazraat al-Qubeir as ‘unspeakable barbarity’ and calls on Assad to implement Kofi Annan’s peace plan.
By Reuters and Natasha Mozgovaya | Jun.07, 2012 | 6:24 PM
UN monitors seeking to reach the site of a new reported massacre of Syrian villagers by forces loyal to President Bashar Assad were shot at with small arms, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday.
Ban, speaking at the start of a special UN General Assembly session on the Syrian crisis, condemned the reported massacre at Mazraat al-Qubeir and called again on Assad to immediately implement international mediator Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan.
“Today’s news reports of another massacre … are shocking and sickening,” he told the 193-nation assembly. “A village apparently surrounded by Syrian forces. The bodies of innocent civilians lying where they were, shot. Some allegedly burned or slashed with knives.”
“We condemn this unspeakable barbarity and renew our determination to bring those responsible to account,” he said.
Ban said UN monitors were initially denied access to the site. “They are working now to get to the scene,” he said. “And I just learned a few minutes ago that while trying to do so the UN monitors were shot at with small arms.”
A short while afterward, a UN spokeswoman said that the United Nations monitors were unable to visit the village of Mazraat al-Qubeir on Thursday where activists say at least 78 people were massacred, and will continue efforts to reach the site on Friday in daylight hours.
“They are going back to their base in Hama and they will try again tomorrow morning,” spokeswoman Sausan Ghosheh said. Chief observer General Robert Mood said earlier they had been turned back by Syrian soldiers and also stopped by civilians.
Ban was addressing the General Assembly on Thursday ahead Annan’s expected presentation to the UN Security Council on Thursday of a new proposal in a last-ditch effort to rescue his failing peace plan for Syria, where 15 months of violence have brought it to the brink of civil war.
Speaking to the General Assembly after Ban, Annan also condemned the new reported massacre and acknowledged that his peace plan was not working.
The U.S. administration also condemned the massacre in Hama.
“The United States strongly condemns the outrageous targeted killings of civilians including women and children in Al-Qubeir in Hama province as reported by multiple credible sources”, the White House spokesman said in a statement. “This, coupled with the Syrian regime’s refusal to let UN observers into the area to verify these reports, is an affront to human dignity and justice.”
Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, issued a statement to the Syrian people on behalf of Israel.
“We hear your cries. We are horrified by the crimes of the Assad regime,” Prosor said. “We extend our hand to you. Assad is not the only one with the blood of the Syrian people on his hands. Iran and Hezbollah sit on his advisory board, offering guidance on how to butcher the Syrian people more efficiently. It is high time for the voices of the victims in Syria to finally unite the voices of the world against the tyrant of Damascus.”
The Syrian opposition and Western and Gulf nations seeking the ouster of President Bashar Assad increasingly see Annan’s six-point peace plan as doomed due to the Syrian government’s determination to use military force to crush an increasingly militarized opposition.
The core of Annan’s proposal, diplomats said, would be the establishment of a contact group that would bring together Russia, China, the United States, Britain, France and key regional players with influence on Syria’s government and the opposition, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Iran.
By creating such a contact group, envoys said, Annan would also be trying to break the deadlock among the five permanent council members that has pitted veto powers Russia and China against the United States, Britain and France and prevented any meaningful UN action on the Syrian conflict, envoys said.
It would attempt to map out a “political transition” for Syria that would lead to Assad stepping aside and the holding of free elections, envoys said. One diplomat said the idea was “vaguely similar” to a political transition deal for Yemen that led to the president’s ouster.
The main point of Annan’s proposal, they said, is to get Russia to commit to the idea of a Syrian political transition, which remains the thrust of Annan’s six-point peace plan, which both the Syrian government and opposition said they accepted earlier this year but have failed to implement.
“We’re trying to get the Russians to understand that if they don’t give up on Assad, they stand to lose all their interests in Syria if this thing blows up into a major regional war involving Lebanon, Iran, Saudis,” a Western diplomat told Reuters. “So far the Russians have not agreed.”
Apart from lucrative Russian arms sales to Damascus, Syria hosts Russia’s only warm water port outside the former Soviet Union. While Russia has said it is not protecting Assad, it has given no indications that it is ready to abandon him.
Last week, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice suggested that if Russia continued to prevent the Security Council from putting pressure on Syria, states may have no choice but to consider acting outside the United Nations.
Diplomats said the West has been pushing Russia to abandon Assad in a series of recent meetings between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with their European and U.S. counterparts.
An unnamed diplomat leaked further details of Annan’s proposal to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, who said that if the contact group agreed on a transition deal for Syria, it could mean Russian exile for Assad. The Post article said another option for Assad would be to seek exile in Iran, Syria’s other staunch ally.
Annan’s peace efforts have failed to halt the violence, as demonstrated by a recent massacre in Houla that led to the deaths of at least 108 men, women and children, most likely by the army and allied militia, according the United Nations.
Opposition members said there was a similar massacre on Wednesday in Hama province, with at least 78 people killed. UN monitors were prevented from reaching it, though a pro-government Syrian television station said the unarmed monitoring force did reach the village of Mazraat al-Qubeir.
Majority of Israeli Arabs would rather live in Israel than in other countries.
68% of Israeli Arabs would rather live in Israel than they would be living in another country.
This shows a survey by the University of Haifa.
60% also agree that the state has a Jewish majority.
56.5% accept the country as a Hebrew-speaking
and 58% of the Sabbath as a day of rest.
Prof. Sami Samuha, who conducted the study says, the question is whether Arab Israelis are more representative of the state or they feel connected to the country feel:
We smell in this article Arctic Rat – and NOT of the Rodent kind. The story is about opening up the ice for the shipment of oil during the colder season of the year: it is about State subsidy of Big Oil being handed profits from climate change in the Arctic by producing and moving oil in places where people used to live in harmony with the environment.
A Russian tanker is slogging through sea ice behind a Coast Guard icebreaker, trying to bring 1.3 million gallons of emergency gasoline and diesel to remote Alaska.
A New Race of Mercy to Nome, This Time Without Sled Dogs.
By WILLIAM YARDLEY
A nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East ahead of the Arabs and Iran accepting the notion that Israel is part of the region? The UN atom-games to move next year to Finland. In preparation November 21-22, 2011 the IAEA in Vienna will meet to learn why the Middle East is now different from any other part of the World.
The factors contributing to increasing interest in nuclear power have not changed told the UN General Assembly in New York Mr. Yukiya Amano, the head of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). These include increasing global demand for energy, as well as concerns about climate change, volatile fossil fuel prices and security of energy supply.
Mr. Amano also reported on the agency’s continued safeguards activities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Iran and Syria. He urged Iran to take steps to “establish international confidence” in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme, and urged DPRK to fully comply with relevant IAEA and Security Council resolutions.
He announced that the agency will hold a forum in Vienna on 21 and 22 November to consider the relevance to the Middle East of the experience of Africa, the South Pacific, South-East Asia, Central Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean in establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones.
A UN-sponsored conference is slated to be held next year on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. All States in the region are expected to attend the meeting, which will be hosted by Finland.
UN Dodges Press on Crackdowns in Sudan, Seeks To Cancel Noon Briefings, Spokesman Out for 40 Days?
By Matthew Russell Lee
They had no comment on crackdowns on the press in Sudan and Cote d’Ivoire, nor on protests of the UN in Nepal and even just across First Avenue by Haitians demanding reparations for the introduction of cholera.
Even why Ban gave out the post of “Commissioner-General of the UN” to Samuel Koo in South Korea did not get an answer, twenty hours after it was asked at Tuesday’s noon briefing.
Nor, despite two requests from Inner City Press, has the UN been able to provide any information about Deputy Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro’s month-long “official travel” in Tanzania.
Now comes word that Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky is taking even more time off, reportedly from now until September 17. During this unheard of absence by a lead spokesman, Nesirky’s acting deputy Farhan Haq is “canvassing” select reporters in order to say that they don’t actually want the UN to hold noon briefings, despite events ranging from Syria to Yemen to Somalia and Sudan.
Even though Haq runs “his” briefing in such a way that it takes less than ten minutes a day — by limiting the Press to three questions, most of which are not answered — even this is apparently too much, despite there being other people in the UN Office of the Spokesperson.
Forget whether or not the UN will comment on crackdowns in Cote d’Ivoire or Bahrain: as an organization that has over 100,000 armed personnel out in the field, is it too much that they should stand and take questions for ten minutes a day, five days a week?
Especially when, as of today, the UN has in place no chief of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, as Alain Le Roy leaves as long ago announced, and the next Frenchman — Jerome Bonnafont, Inner City Press reported six weeks ago — is not in place, not even interviewed? We’ll see.
Update: some Missions and Permanent Representative of the UN, even among the Permanent Five members of the Security Council, somewhat surprisinly watch the UN noon briefing on UN TV, and some have expressed surprise at the length of leave and move to shut off even the short televised briefings. But are the member states being canvassed? Who is being canvassed? Watch this site.
* * *
At UN, No Answers on Migiro’s “Official Travels,” Budget Chief Leaving, Ban’s Job Gift to Koo.
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, August 9 — With the UN’s two top officials both out of New York, their spokespeople are having trouble explaining what they are doing.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is in South Korea, while Deputy Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro is listed on “official travel” from July 18 to August 16.
Yet despite two requests from Inner City Press for an explanation of this “official” travel, not a single official UN act has been described.
Nor does Ban’s spokesperson’s office, when asked, seem to know what Ban is doing in his native South Korea. On August 9, Inner City Press asked Ban’s acting deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about one of Ban’s actions while away:
Inner City Press: Ban Ki-moon has named Samuel Koo as the UN Commissioner-General for the Yeosu Expo. This was in the South Korean press, and I just wanted to know, what is this Commissioner-General position? Is it a paid position? What’s this all about?
Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: It’s not an announcement that we have made from here. We’d have to check what the report is on this particular thing. It’s certainly not an appointment that we’ve announced from here, however. Have a good afternoon, all.
But for the rest of the afternoon, and evening, no answer at all was given. The Korea Herald had reported:
“U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Samuel Koo, a former U.N. official and journalist, as the U.N. commissioner-general for the 2012 Yeosu Expo… In Korea, Koo has also held posts related to culture, tourism and convention, including culture ambassador for the Foreign Ministry and president of Seoul Tourism. Koo now chairs the culture and tourism committee of the Presidential Council on Nation Branding.”
So Ban gave out a grandiose-sounding UN position without his spokespeople knowing, or even bothering to look into and provide an answer on for sixteen hours and counting. Koo was also at one time a UN correspondent, seeking information not without success from the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General in the past. And now?
Meanwhile, Inner City Press has twice asked about DSG Migiro’s month-long “official travel,” first asking Ban’s lead spokesman Martin Nesirky, who said he would look into it and provide an answer, then when he didn’t, asking Haq on August 8:
Inner City Press: this was actually just kind of a follow-up. It’s something I had asked Martin last week, I don’t have an answer, so it’s not really a follow-up. It’s a reiterated question. Everyday in the Spokesperson’s Office there is a sheet saying that the DSG [Deputy Secretary-General] is on official travel, and he’d said he’d look into it. I wanted to know, what is that official travel?
Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: She is on home leave. She is on home leave in [the United Republic of] Tanzania, but she does have some official functions and we’ll let you know about those as they come.
But a day and a half later and counting, not a single official act has been reported. Inner City Press followed up:
Inner City Press: what’s the distinction, because I have seen sometimes things listed as leave, but this has been a full month stated as official travel. What’s the distinction?
Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Like I said, it is home leave, but it does include some official functions.
What are those functions? Sources tell Inner City Press that the African Group of member states at the UN is being lobbied to get Ms. Migiro a second term, like Ban got. Others say there is a European for that position.
When Ban came in, through his now long-time chief of staff he said that the expectation was that none of his officials would serve more than five years in their jobs. But many have been there longer now, with no move to replace them.
There is a near total lack of transparency: Inner City Press has twice asked when Controller Jun Yamasaki is leaving, without answer.
His job was already advertised in The Economist; another UN source tells Inner City Press Yamazaki is slated to leave on August 18, but might stay on for a month. But why won’t the Secretariat answer these things?
For the just-filed Iraq envoy post, Inner City Press reported that there were three candidates, all German. A regional Permanent Representative asked Inner City Press, “Which Germany will get it?” It’s like Ban’s UN has deemed the Department of Peacekeeping Operations a French post, with three candidates, all French. This is UN reform? Watch this site.
The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) says it has a membership of 57 States on four continents with a total population of 1.3 billion people. Having seen its map we realize it has also at least three “blocked States” – India, Thailand, and The Philippines though it has the Moro National Liberation Front as an observer State, a withdrawn State – Zimbabwe, and at least one non-State – Israel that was replaced by Palestine as a member State. Cote d’Ivoire was the last member to enter – it joined in 2001. Russia became an Observer in 2005.
Afghanistan was suspended during the years of Soviet occupation 1980 – March 1989 and Egypt, the fifth largest Islamic population, was suspended May 1979 – March 1984 when it tried for peace in the Middle East.
The flag of the OIC has an overall green background (symbolic of Islam). In the centre, there is an upward-facing red crescent enveloped in a white disc. On the disc the words “Allahu Akbar” (Arabic for “The Almighty God”) are written in Arabic calligraphy.
The OIC attracted attention at the opening session of the meeting in Putrajaya, Malaysia, on 16 October 2003, where Prime MinisterMahathir Mohamad of Malaysia in his speech argued that the Jews control the world: “They invented socialism, communism, human rights, and democracy, so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so that they can enjoy equal rights with others. With these they have gained control of the most powerful countries and they, this tiny community, have become a world power.” He also said that “the Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.” The speech was very well received by the delegates, including many high ranking politicians, who responded with standing ovations.”
India, a country that has 161 million Muslim, only Indonesia with 203 million and Pakistan with 174 million have larger Muslim populations then India, was not welcome even as an observer to OIC – this because of its conflict with Pakistan where India would like to have a referendum of the local population as a means to decide the future of Kashmir.
Most OIC member countries are non-democratic. There are no OIC countries which are rated as a “Full Democracy” under the Democracy Index guidelines, and only 3 of the 57 members are rated as high as a “Flawed Democracy.” The rest are rated either an “Authoritarian Regime” or a “Hybrid Regime.”
Reporters Without Borders in its 2011 Press Freedom Index rated only Mali and Suriname among the OIC members as having a Satisfactory Situation. All other members had worse ratings ranging from Noticeable Problems to Very Serious Situation.
Freedom of religion is severely restricted in most OIC member states. In 2009, the US Department of State cited OIC members Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan as being Countries of Particular Concern, where religious freedom is severely violated.
On August 5, 1990, 45 foreign ministers of the OIC adopted the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam to serve as a guidance for the member states in the matters of human rights in as much as they are compatible with the Sharia, or Quranic Law www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/cai… )
OIC created the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam. While proponents claim it is not an alternative to the UDHR, but rather complementary, Article 24 states, “All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari’ah.” and Article 25 follows that with “The Islamic Shari’ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration.” Attempts to have it adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council have met increasing criticism, because of its contradiction of the UDHR, including from liberal Muslim groups. Critics of the CDHR state bluntly that it is “manipulation and hypocrisy,” “designed to dilute, if not altogether eliminate, civil and political rights protected by international law” and attempts to “circumvent these principles [of freedom and equality].”
Human Rights Watch says that OIC has “fought doggedly” and successfully within the United Nations Human Rights Council to shield states from criticism, except when it comes to criticism of Israel. For example, when independent experts reported violations of human rights in the 2006 Lebanon War, “state after state from the OIC took the floor to denounce the experts for daring to look beyond Israeli violations to discuss Hezbollah’s as well.” OIC demands that the council “should work cooperatively with abusive governments rather than condemn them.” HRW responds that this works only with those who are willing to cooperate; others exploit the passivity.
The OIC has been criticised for diverting its activities solely on Muslim minorities within majority non-Muslim countries but putting a taboo on the plight, the treatment of ethnic minorities within Muslim-majority countries, such as the oppression of the Kurds in Syria, the Ahwaz inIran, the Hazars in Afghanistan, the Baluchis in Pakistan, the ‘Al-Akhdam‘ in Yemen, or the Berbers in Algeria.
The formation of the OIC happened shortly after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Leaders of Muslim nations met in Rabat to establish the OIC on September 25, 1969.
OIC is run out of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, its first Secretary General was
Cameroon · Chad · Comoros · Côted’ Ivoire · Djibouti · Egypt · Gabon · Gambia · Guinea ·
From Hiroshima 1945 to Fukushima 2011 – it is “Cukooshima!”
Let me start by saying that this posting is not an expression of any arrow shooting at Japanese that acted for all those years against their best interests. Yes – but sorry – it was Cukoo.
It all started with Japan believing it can stop US expansion in East Asia, and Japan picking the losing side in WWII. This led to the dropping of two nuclear bombs over Japan. Then Japan decided to compete with the US economy and went the way of nuclear energy for peaceful use. Now we see that this was as disastrous as their first encounter with nuclear technology – but this time by their own choice.
We love Japan. For one – I spent three weeks in Kyoto in 1997 with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting that gave birth to the failed Kyoto Protocol. At that time I got to know the Kyoto – Nara – Osaka triangle. But this was not my only encounter with the Japanese. In effect, with my family, we spent two weeks staying with Japanese in their homes thanks to the Ryokan hospitality system, and we exchanged our time-share at the Krystal Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for a week at the Resorpia Hakone Japanese Business Class Resort at Hakone, at the foot of the Fiji Mountain. We got to know two different levels which sandwich the Japanese society.
With this said – let me add that I write now from Vienna and that the Austrian people have voted down the opening of an atomic plant as they understood the terrible danger of living with an atomic monster-plant in your backyard. Austria has not even one nuclear plant but gets part of its electricity from the European grid that includes nuclear plants. The Austrians are thus not clean of nuclear energy either – this unless they disengage from the European grid and run their own separate grid for which they have enough hydro-power to provide over 80% of electricity need and could easily supply the remaining part with biomass, biofuels, solar and wind energy. Clearly no real need for nuclear power and the possibility to achieve this without empty posturing based on the truth that once in the past they voted down the opening of the Zwentendorf nuclear plant.
The Donella Meadows Archive – Voice of a Global Citizen – wrote:
On the bank of the Danube 20 miles northwest of Vienna stands a
The plant, called Zwentendorf, was intended to be the first of six
“When Zwentendorf began, we didn’t know anything,” an Austrian
They know now that two of the four German plants with the same design
By the time Zwentendorf was finished, so many doubts had been raised
At any rate, on November 5, l978, 50.5% of the voters said no to
This is part of an article from The Donella Meadows Archive, for
Today – that is in 2011 – the Zwentendorf facility serves as a source
Austrians understand the pain of Japan and the papers are full with articles and letters regarding the nuclear events unfolding in Japan.
The PolitikHeute page of the popular free-of-charge Vienna Heute daily, March 18, 2011, has two out of the three letters from readers, dealing with the EU “Stress Tests for EU Nuclear plants, or the EU and the Atomic Power Plants (the German word AKW):
H. Fruhwirth from Hoenbach reminds us that it is Austrian Environment Minister Nikolas Berlakovich who suggested the stress-tests for all EU AKWs and thinks that had one done so with the Fukushima plants perhaps they would have been stopped before disaster stroke. The mentioned stress tests have already led Germany to announce the non renewal of the operating licenses for as many as 12 plants – this to take effect in a month or two.
Further, the letter points out that politicians, and those that favor nuclear power, finally were driven by what happened in Japan to the realization that humanity is helpless before environmental inputs.
S. Hauer writes a short note asking why the EU deals with crooked bananas and crooked cucumbers, but has no decisions regarding the AKWs, airplane accidents, acts of terror, earth-quakes – even though it is clear that 100% safety does not exist?
On the following page there is an article titled ANSWERS, by Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn.
The Cardinal announces that tonight, Friday March 18th, 7 pm, he will hold at the Stephansdom (clearly most important Cathedral in Austria) – a special service for Japan.
The Cardinal writes that the Fukushima events made him think these last days of his friend, a Chemist at the University of Bern, Switzerland, Professor Max Thuerkauf, who lost his position at the university because of his criticism of the technological insufficiencies of our times and warned of dangers even of the peaceful uses of nuclear power. His words sound prophetic these days.
Back in 1984 he was saying that the nuclear power plants were just the tip of an iceberg – the development of technologies that were unsustainable. No engine is safe he was saying to those that argued that nuclear power plants are safe. He was noting that men build them, and use them, and we know that even the impossible can happen.
Thuerkauf said that atomic energy is a fire that cannot be extinguished – surely not by closing a faucet. There is no material that can extinguish a fire that burns a thousand time brighter then the sun – the artificially created radioactivity. Science has no means to bottle up this artificially created radioactivity will be here for eternity, and the Cardinal calls us to reconsider what we are doing and look at what price the poor Japanese will pay for these activities.
But I cannot leave it at this only. I feel I must make a further comment regarding the Japanese culture that bred the reality of people committing harakiri for some National purpose. Obviously, we had no admiration for those that sacrificed themselves for their emperor and we do not admire a Prime Minister who makes now an official visit to the shrine that sort off deifies their memory, but look now at the 50 workers that still busy themselves in the pit left by the explosions at the dying reactors of Fukushima. These people know they have little chance to survive. The head of the Japanese nuclear authority did not go to inspect the disaster – right on location. He must have had years ofd good pay and it is those workers that will be his sacrificial lambs. He is no better then the US bank-directors that raked in the profits from the financial collapse in the US or the BP officials who watched the fouling up of the US Gulf. Neigh – the Japanese energy leaders might actually prove to be much worse then these other self-gratifiers.
Is above really incomprehensible if remembering that quite a few countries used to overload the UN with personnel as a convenient way to put their intelligence operatives within the borders of the US? In the days of the cold war these were mainly East-bloc operatives, today they can be various Middle Easterners and even plants from business interests.
The imagination can let you run wild and the host country may love to get more information of what some individuals with UN appointments do in their vastly available extra-time.
The US text we picked up says:
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 24 STATE 080163
NOFORN, SIPDIS, E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/31/2034
TAGS: PINR KSPR ECON KPKO KUNR
SUBJECT: (S) REPORTING AND COLLECTION NEEDS: THE UNITED NATIONS REF: STATE 048489
Classified By: MICHAEL OWENS, ACTING DIR, INR/OPS. REASON: 1.4(C).
1. (S/NF) This cable provides the full text of the new National HUMINT Collection Directive (NHCD) on the United Nations (paragraph 3-end) as well as a request for continued DOS reporting of biographic information relating to the United Nations (paragraph 2).
…Reporting officers should include as much of the following information as possible when they have information relating to… credit card account numbers; frequent flyer account numbers; work schedules, and other relevant biographical information.
…Information about current and future use of communications systems and technologies by officials or organizations, including cellular phone networks, mobile satellite phones, very small aperture terminals (VSAT), trunked and mobile radios, pagers, prepaid calling cards, firewalls, encryption, international connectivity, use of electronic data interchange, Voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP), Worldwide interoperability for microwave access (Wi-Max), and cable and fiber networks.
Foreign Policy wrote about this:
WikiLeaks reveals vast U.S. information-gathering operation at the U.N.
The directive, which was signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,
In most cases, the directive simply seeks to use American diplomats to
Carne Ross, a former British diplomat, said that it’s hardly news
Perhaps the most surprising detail to emerge so far from the leaks is
According to the directive, American diplomats are instructed to
The State Department cables are suspected of having been passed on to
In a statement, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley denied
International treaties prohibit spying at the United Nations, but it
“The UN has previously asserted that bugging the secretary general is
Other U.S. intelligence targets identified in the State Department directive:
*The U.S. solicits information on “plans and intentions” of U.N.
*The U.S. seeks information on Ban’s “plans and intentions” regarding
*The U.S. solicits information on Iranian efforts to develop or
*Foreign NGOs with influence on a range of issues, including human
*The U.S. directive also seeks the views of all key parties, including
*The U.S. intelligence community is not only out for itself. The
*Solicits information on the views of the Security Council and other
The only solution to the North Korean runaway politics is reunification with acceptance of North Korea elements in the united government. Former US President Carter calls for negotiations. So far none of the non-Koreans was ready to buy this idea – but thanks to the WikiLeaks we learn now that China might accept reunification as a way out from its seemingly unneeded headache.
What will be then the position of the other powers involved in the region?
Chinese officials have told international counterparts Beijing could ultimately accept a Korean peninsula unified under Seoul’s control, according to leaked US diplomatic dispatches.
Reports published on the WikiLeaks website on Tuesday counter the perception that China’s defence of the status quo on the Korean peninsula is absolute in spite of Beijing’s refusal to condemn Pyongyang for shelling a South Korean island last week and sinking one of Seoul’s warships in March.
Before Thanksgiving, Seton Hall University of New Jersey honors UNSG Ban Ki-moon and gives him the podium to make a re-election speech. Will the US fall for it? What effect will have North Korea Shenanigans?
UNITED NATIONS, November 22, 2010, by Matthew Russell Lee — When Seton Hall hosted UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday, it told the Press to expect a “major policy address entitled, ‘Can the UN Deliver What the World Needs?’”
At a time when for example the UN is accused of playing a role in the introduction and spread of cholera in Haiti, and has killed at least one Haitian demonstrator, one expected this issue to at least be mentioned in the major policy address. But Ban’s speech, as distributed under embargo to the UN press corps, did not even mention Haiti.
Amazingly, Ban’s speech praised his and the UN’s role in Myanmar and went on that “We did the same in Darfur. For years, conflict raged… today, the mission continues to protect civilians.” This right after the slaughter at Tawila, which even Ban acknowledged raised issues about the UN peacekeepers freedom of movement and protection of civilians.
Ban did not mention Sri Lanka, a country where he has been burned in effigy and where after tens of thousands of deaths, the International Crisis Group said the UN’s inaction should be investigated.
Not a mention of the mass rapes in Eastern Congo, and the UN peacekeepers’ inaction. After each of these incidents, the UN has said it can and will do better. But this is soon forgotten, not even mentioned amid the self congratulation.
This speech is described in house as Ban’s re-election speech: “all the great things I have done” (and none of the short falls, none of the need to or commitment to reform – spin, in short.)
An Inner City Press correspondent at the speech reports on questions about the South Sudan referendum, Afghanistan and terrorism, still nothing on cholera in Haiti, mass rape in the Congo.
At Monday’s noon press briefing, Ban’s acting deputy spokesman was asked if Ban would be receiving an honorary degree, as Seton Hall itself had been announcing since last week. Haq would not confirm it. But the speech, even as embargoed, began with thanks for the award. Great Communications system in place at the UN!
The above was followed with the exchange dated November 24, 2010 – www.innercitypress.com/ban2seton112410.html
November 23, 2010, 9:56 am
A Line in the Sea Divides the Two KoreasBy ROBERT MACKEY, a New York Times blogger.
Korea Herald A screenshot from the Web site of The Korea Herald shows the location of Yeonpyeong island, in disputed waters.
Updated | 5:21 p.m. The residents of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island, who rushed to air-raid shelters on Tuesday as they came under attack from North Korea, are well aware that they live on the edge of a geopolitical fault line. The island is in disputed waters claimed by both countries, just two miles from the so-called Northern Limit Line, a maritime border the North has never recognized, and only eight miles from the North Korean coast.
Last year, my colleague Martin Fackler visited Yeonpyeong and reported:
As another colleague, Choe Sang-Hun, has explained, the Northern Limit Line — known to Koreans as the N.L.L. — is a reminder that the Korean War is formally on hold, not over.
Two experts on the long-simmering border dispute, Mark Valencia and Jenny Miller Garmendia, explained on The Times Op-Ed page in 1999 that the N.L.L. is “equidistant between five islands occupied by South Korea and the North Korean coastline.” They added:
Reuters South Korean protesters expressed their support of the Northern Limit Line in 2007.
The disputed maritime border has led to several clashes between the armed forces of the two Koreas in recent years. In August, after North Korea seized a squidding boat and South Korea carried out aggressive naval exercises in the area, the North fired 100 artillery rounds into the sea near Yeonpyeong.
In March, an explosion sank the Cheonan, a South Korean Navy ship, in the same disputed waters. After the ship went down, killing 46 sailors, South Korea and a team on international investigators blamed a North Korean attack.
The two Korean navies also clashed over the N.L.L. in 1999, 2002 and 2009.
Before that, as Reuters reported on Tuesday, North Korea paid only fitful attention to the maritime border — not objecting at all until 1973 and then seeming to agree to recognize it in 1992.
As Mr. Valencia and Ms. Garmendia explained in their 1999 Op-Ed, the clash that year was precipitated by what seemed like unlikely cause for an international incident on a nuclear-armed peninsula: a “concentration of valuable crabs south of the N.L.L.”
Last year, Reuters reported from Yeonpyeong that local fishermen there “said they are losing out on the best crabs to hundreds of Chinese trawlers that pass through the North’s waters to fish in waters off limits to them. When tensions are low, the South’s fishermen try to push as close to the N.L.L. as possible.”
In a succinct analysis of Tuesday’s events on the BBC’s “World Update” program, Brian Myers, an American academic at Dongseo University in South Korea, argued that North Korea’s government needs to provoke military clashes of this kind: both to distract its population from its own economic failures and to bolster its claim to be defending national pride in the face of what it calls American imperialism on the peninsula. Mr. Myers said:
Earlier this year, Mr. Myers wrote, in an essay for Foreign Policy, that his study of North Korean propaganda suggested that the regime’s ideology was not really Communist, but rather, a kind of “paranoid nationalism” that is essentially “racist,” in its affirmation of Korean superiority.
A discussion of the maritime frontier of the N.L.L. in a 2007 report by North Korea’s official news agency, KCNA, gives a sense of the North Korean perspective on the border and its southern neighbors. The report praises an article in another state-run publication for, “disclosing the truth behind the ‘northern limit line’ and clarifying once again the principled stand of [North Korea] on it in connection with the fact that the warlike forces of [S]outh Korea are perpetrating the intrusion into the waters of the north side in the West Sea of Korea not just as a mere provocation but are pursuing the brigandish purpose of bringing under control those waters invaded by them.”
The North Korean report called the N.L.L. “an illegal ghost line… that the U.S. imperialist aggressor troops unilaterally drew… after occupying [S]outh Korea under the helmets of the ‘U.N. forces.’” It adds that “The U.S. imperialists, utterly exhausted after sustaining an unprecedented defeat in the Korean war, ordered Clark, the then commander of the ‘U.N. forces,’ to fix the so-called ‘northern limit line.’”
As for South Korea’s government, the North Korean agency suggested, “The [S]outh Korean authorities, steeped in flunkeyism and submission to the marrow of their bones, seek to attain their political and strategic aims to put an end to [moves toward] reunification and aggravate the north-south relations in a bid to please their American master at any cost.”
China Faces a Nettlesome Neighbor in North Korea.
Interactive Feature: The North Korean Challenge.