World Digest: Sept. 24, 2013

September 24, 2013
CHINA
Items banned from export to N. Korea

China has tightened restrictions on North Korea by issuing a long list of weapons-related technology and materials banned from export to its neighbor, reflecting Beijing’s apparent desire to get Pyongyang to scrap its nuclear programs and rejoin disarmament talks.

The announcement posted Tuesday on the Chinese Commerce Ministry’s Web site came as two American experts said that Pyongyang can now make crucial equipment for producing uranium-based bombs on its own, cutting out imports that had been one of the few ways outsiders could monitor the country’s secretive atomic work.

The list of forbidden items includes those with both civilian and military applications in the nuclear, ballistic, chemical and biological fields. The notice said the list was aimed at boosting enforcement of U.N. Security Council resolutions on North Korea passed since 2006.

The move is a continuation of China’s new policy of putting slightly greater pressure on North Korea to coax it back to disarmament talks, said Li Ming­jiang, a China security expert at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.

“The leaders in Pyongyang will hate this,” Li said.

— Associated Press

RUSSIA
Greenpeace activists accused of piracy

Environmental activists who protested at a Russian Arctic offshore oil platform last week will be prosecuted and could face piracy charges punishable by up to 15 years in prison, Russian investigators said Tuesday.

They said the “attack” in which Greenpeace activists tried scaling the Gazprom-owned Prirazlomnaya platform, Russia’s first offshore Arctic oil platform, violated Russian sovereignty.

The protest ended in the arrest of 30 activists on the Netherlands-registered icebreaker Arctic Sunrise, Greenpeace said. The vessel, which was detained and towed by authorities, anchored Tuesday outside the Arctic port city of Murmansk.

Greenpeace, which says its aim is to highlight the threat oil drilling poses to the fragile Arctic ecosystem, has said that its protest was peaceful and that Russia’s actions violated international law.

— Reuters

PAKISTAN
Deadly earthquake strikes in southwest

A major earthquake struck a remote area in southwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, killing at least 39 people as houses collapsed and possibly pushing up the earth to create a new island off the country’s southern coast.

The Pakistani military said it was rushing troops and helicopters to Baluchistan province’s Awaran district, where the quake was centered, as well as the nearby area of Khuzdar. Strong aftershocks continued to rock the area.

Pakistani meteorological officials put the magnitude of the quake at 7.7, while the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo., said it was magnitude 7.8.

Baluchistan is Pakistan’s largest province but also the least populated.

— Associated Press

China’s Bo appeals verdict: Disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai has appealed his guilty verdict on charges of embezzlement and other crimes, a person close to the case said Tuesday, in a rare move that is consistent with his defiant stance but unlikely to change the outcome. The person said that the former Politburo member made the appeal orally upon the delivery Sunday of the verdict issued by the Jinan Intermediate People’s Court in eastern China and that a written appeal to the Shandong Provincial Supreme People’s Court would also be submitted soon.

Pope defends immigrants, refugees: Pope Francis exhorted countries to welcome and respect migrants and refugees and not to treat them as “pawns on the chessboard of humanity.” Francis, who has made the defense of the poor and vulnerable a cornerstone of his papacy, also used a message marking the World Day of Migrants and Refugees to reiterate his condemnation of “slave labor” and trafficking, developing his criticism of a “throwaway culture.”

Cambodia’s Hun Sen reappointed as prime minister: Long-serving Cambodian strongman Hun Sen began another five-year term as prime minister, declaring his victory “historic” despite accusations of rigged elections, mass protests and a boycott of parliament by the opposition. Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said he would announce his party’s next step on Wednesday but called Hun Sen’s reappointment a “constitutional coup.”

Argentine priest jailed in sex abuse case: A Catholic priest who was convicted in 2009 in Argentina of sexually abusing a boy has begun serving a 15-year sentence in prison. Father Julio Cesar Grassi was convicted after accusations against him by several orphans in his care but was allowed to keep living across the street from the orphanage while he appealed. After his sentence was upheld last week, Grassi was taken into custody Monday and was banned from the priesthood Tuesday.

— From news services

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