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Could a missile from North Korea hit the US?

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North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile is capable of carrying a “large, heavy nuclear warhead” that can survive re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, its official news agency said Wednesday.

Washington described the device, launched on Tuesday in a watershed moment for Pyongyang’s weapons ambitions, as an ICBM, and independent experts said it was capable of reaching Alaska.

The Korean Central News Agency said that after personally overseeing the test, leader Kim Jong-Un “said American bastards would be not very happy with this gift sent on the July 4 anniversary”, the United States’ independence day.

Breaking into peals of laughter, KCNA said, he “added that we should send them gifts once in a while to help break their boredom”.

Kim had inspected the Hwasong-14 missile and “expressed satisfaction, saying it looked as handsome as a good-looking boy and was well made”.

North and South Korea have been divided since the war on the peninsula ended in 1953 with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, and Pyongyang says it needs nuclear weapons to defend itself against the threat of invasion.

The North’s long confrontation with Washington had entered the “final stage”, KCNA cited Kim as saying, and Pyongyang would not put its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles up for negotiation under any circumstances, “unless the US hostile policy and nuclear threats come to an end completely”.

The North is subject to multiple rounds of United Nations sanctions over its nuclear and missile programmes, and the launch triggered a new chorus of condemnation.

In response, US and South Korean soldiers fired ballistic missiles simultaneously in a drill Wednesday simulating an attack on the North’s leadership, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, “as a strong message of warning”.

The live-fire training was held at the order of President Moon Jae-In, Yonhap news agency said, who backs engagement with Pyongyang to bring it to the negotiating table.

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“President Moon said North Korea’s serious provocation required us to react with more than just a statement and that we need to clearly show our missile defence readiness to North Korea,” it cited Seoul’s presidential Blue House as saying.

For decades Pyongyang has sought to develop a missile capable of delivering a warhead to the continental United States.

Questions remain about whether the North can miniaturise a nuclear weapon to fit a missile nosecone, or if it has mastered the technology needed for it to survive re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

But KCNA said Tuesday’s launch had verified “all the technological requirements including heat resistance and structural stability of the re-entry nosecone”, which it said was made of carbon composite.

“Under harsh conditions involving thousands of degrees of heat, pressure and tremors, the temperature inside the nose cone was stable between 25-45 degrees Celsius,” it said, adding the warhead “flew flawlessly and struck the target precisely”.

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Oxford college removes painting of Aung San Suu Kyi from display

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SADA MIRE

The Oxford college where Aung San Suu Kyi studied as an undergraduate has removed her portrait from public display and placed it in storage, in a move that follows international criticism over her role in Myanmar’s humanitarian crisis.

The governing body of St Hugh’s college decided to remove the painting of the Nobel laureate from its main entrance on Thursday, days before the start of the university term and the arrival of new students.

In 2012 Aung San Suu Kyi was celebrated with an honorary doctorate from Oxford University, and held her 67th birthday party at the college where she studied politics, philosophy and economics between 1964 and 1967.

But in recent months Myanmar’s leader has attracted increasing criticism for her apparent defence of the country’s treatment of its Rohingya minority, who have suffered ethnic cleansing and violent attacks by Myanmar’s military forces.

In a statement St Hugh’s said: “The college received the gift of a new painting earlier this month which will be exhibited for a period. The painting of Aung San Suu Kyi has, meanwhile, been moved to storage.”

St Hugh’s student newsletter, The Swan, said the decision to remove the portrait was taken by the college’s governing body, which includes the college’s fellows and its principal, Dame Elish Angiolini.

But the move by St Hugh’s was described as cowardly by the Burma Campaign UK group, which urged the college to go further.

“This seems a rather cowardly action by St Hugh’s. If they have taken down the portrait because of Aung San Suu Kyi defending the Burmese military as they commit ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya they should say so and write to her urging her to respect human rights,” said Mark Farmaner, the campaign’s director.

The portrait, painted by the artist Chen Yanning in 1997, belonged to Aung San Suu Kyi’s husband, the Oxford academic Michael Aris. After Aris’s death in 1999 the portrait was bequeathed to St Hugh’s, and hung near the college’s main entrance on St Margaret’s Road in north Oxford.

The college’s other notable alumni include Theresa May, Nicky Morgan, the former education secretary, and Barbara Castle, a cabinet minister in Harold Wilson’s Labour governments.

As a leader of Myanmar’s opposition, Aung San Suu Kyi won a Nobel peace prize in 1991. Despite being barred from running for president, she won a decisive victory in the country’s 2015 election, and was eventually given a title of state counsellor.

As prime minister, May has been under pressure to take action after evidence emerged that Myanmar’s military forces were driving hundreds of thousands of Rohingya out of the country.

Earlier this month May said: “Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burmese government need to make it very clear that the military action should stop.”

Oxford council is to vote next week on stripping Aung San Suu Kyi of the freedom of the city it bestowed on her in 1997, when she was being held as a political prisoner by Myanmar’s military junta.

So far Oxford University has decided not to reconsider Aung San Suu Kyi’s honorary degree. But last week the university expressed its “profound concern” over the treatment of the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority.

The university said it “hopes the Myanmar administration, led by Oxford alumna Aung San Suu Kyi, can eliminate discrimination and oppression, and demonstrate to the world that Myanmar values the lives of all its citizens”.

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China vows to support Somalia’s peace, reconstruction

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Chinese Ambassador to Somalia Qian Jian on Wednesday said China will strongly support the Horn of Africa nation’s peace and reconstruction process as part of the bilateral pact between the two countries.

Qian said Beijing had made positive contribution to Somalia in various fields including economic and social development to assist the country in acquiring political stability.

“The Chinese government has built over 80 infrastructural projects like hospitals, stadiums and roads to ease the burden of the Somali people. We have dispatched a medical team of more than 400 members in 13 batches to the country since 1991,” the envoy said in Nairobi during celebrations to mark the 68th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Qian told the guests, among whom were top government officials and diplomats, that under the strong leadership of the Communist Party, China had over the last 68 years achieved what it would take other countries centuries to attain.

In 2016, China’s gross domestic product (GDP) hit about 11 trillion U.S. dollars and per capita GDP stood at 8,000 dollars, he said, noting that China is the second largest economy in the world.

Speaker of the House of People, Mohamed Osman Jawari, congratulated the Chinese government on the occasion and shared his country’s best wishes to the Far East nation.

“Relations between Somalia and China commenced in 1960 after we attained independence, and ever since we signed our first official trade agreement in 1963, the Somali people have been beneficiaries of Chinese benevolence in the areas of maternal and child care as well as other infrastructural largess,” Jawari said.

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Trump urges ‘strong and swift’ UN action for Rohingya

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US President Donald Trump wants the United Nations Security Council to take “strong and swift action” to end violence against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims.

Speaking at a Security Council meeting on peacekeeping reform, Vice President Mike Pence accused the Myanmar military of responding to attacks on government outposts “with terrible savagery, burning villages, driving the Rohingya from their homes”.

Pence repeated a US call for the Myanmar military to end the violence and support diplomatic efforts for a long-term solution for the Rohingya, who are denied citizenship in a country where many Buddhists regard them as illegal immigrants.

“President Trump and I also call on the Security Council of the United Nations to take strong and swift action to bring this crisis to an end and bring hope and help to the Rohingya people in their hour of need,” he told the 15-member council.
The security council has met twice behind closed doors since the crisis began on August 25 and last week issued an informal statement to the press condemning the situation and urging Myanmar authorities to end the violence.

“Unless this violence is stopped, which justice demands, it will only get worse. And it will sow seeds of hatred and chaos that may well consume the region for generations to come and threaten the peace of us all,” Pence said.

It was the strongest US government response yet to the violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state that has forced more than 420,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh, fleeing a military offensive the United Nations has branded ethnic cleansing

French President Emmanuel Macron earlier Wednesday described the military’s campaign as “genocide”.

Myanmar insisted to the United Nations the crisis in Rakhine was easing after heavy international criticism.

Myanmar’s second Vice President Henry Van Thio addressed the annual UN General Assembly in place of leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who a day earlier delivered a speech calling for patience.

Van Thio’s remarks are even less likely than Suu Kyi’s to mollify global concerns as he questioned the reasons for the flight of members of the Rohingya Muslim minority.

“I am happy to inform you that the situation has improved,” Van Thio said in his address, saying there have been no clashes since September 5.

“Accordingly, we are concerned by reports that the numbers of Muslims crossing into Bangladesh remain unabated. We would need to find out the reason for this exodus,” he said.

Van Thio did not use the term Rohingya, referring to them simply as Muslims. He noted the army campaign came in response to a rebel attack and said non-Muslims have also suffered.

Myanmar’s third-in-command thanked foreign countries for support, not referring directly to their criticism.

“Humanitarian assistance is our first priority. We are committed to ensuring that aid is received by all those in need, without discrimination,” Van Thio said.

Suu Kyi’s stance has disheartened human rights groups who had campaigned for her freedom during the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s 15 years under house arrest by the ruling junta.

But analysts say Suu Kyi, while now the country’s de facto leader, may not be able to curb the army even if she took the political risk of speaking out.

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