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NUKEWARS
UN set to adopt treaty outlawing nuclear weapons
By Carole LANDRY
United Nations, United States (AFP) July 7, 2017


Explosions in sky as Pyongyang celebrates ICBM launch
Pyongyang (AFP) July 7, 2017 - Fireworks lit up the sky over Pyongyang's Juche Tower as North Korea celebrated its launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, a milestone in its decades-long weapons drive.

The stone monument to the ideology of founder Kim Il-Sung stands in the centre of the capital, topped by a red glass flame.

Under current leader Kim Jong-Un, Kim's grandson, the isolated, impoverished country has made rapid progress towards its dream of building a missile that can deliver a nuclear warhead to the United States.

On Tuesday -- the United States' Independence Day -- it launched a Hwasong-14 rocket that analysts and overseas officials said had a range of up to 8,000 kilometres, which would put Alaska and Hawaii within reach.

Kim, who personally oversaw the launch, described it as gift to "American bastards".

Thousands of officials, soldiers and citizens gathered in the capital on Thursday night to rejoice.

"We enthusiastically celebrate the successful test launch of the intercontinental ballistic rocket, the greatest landmark in the history of our republic," read a banner across Kim Il-Sung Square.

Attendees included Kim Yong-Nam, the titular head of state, and top general Hwang Pyong-So, the state Korean Central News Agency reported.

Speakers "warmly congratulated the national defence science soldiers on striking the US imperialists on the face", KCNA reported.

If "US imperialists commit even the slightest military provocation" against the North, it cited them as saying, its army would "show to the world how the territory of the US will be reduced to ashes".

The crowds listened impassively, before women in traditional dress and men in shirts and ties danced in formation on the plaza. The first song was "Glory to General Kim Jong Un", KCNA reported.

North Korea, which says it needs nuclear weapons to defend itself against the threat of invasion, is subject to multiple sets of United Nations sanctions over its weapons programmes, and the launch triggered a new round of condemnation and anger, with the US and its allies seeking toughened measures at the Security Council.

A global treaty banning nuclear weapons is set to be adopted at the United Nations on Friday despite opposition from the United States, Britain, France and other nuclear powers that boycotted negotiations.

Supporters describe the treaty as a historic achievement but the nuclear-armed states have dismissed the ban as unrealistic, arguing it will have no impact on reducing the global stockpile of 15,000 nuclear weapons.

Led by Austria, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and New Zealand, 141 countries have taken part in three weeks of negotiations on the treaty that provides for a total ban on developing, stockpiling or threatening to use nuclear weapons.

Advocates hope it will increase pressure on nuclear states to take disarmament more seriously.

"This will be a historic moment," Costa Rica's ambassador, Elayne Whyte Gomez, the president of the UN conference on the treaty, said on the eve of the adoption.

"The world has been waiting for this legal norm for 70 years," she said, calling it a "response for humanity."

None of the nine countries that possess nuclear weapons -- the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel -- took part in the negotiations.

Even Japan -- the only country to have suffered atomic attacks, in 1945 -- boycotted the talks as did most NATO countries.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley came out strongly against the ban when negotiations opened on March 27, saying "there is nothing I want more for my family than a world with no nuclear weapons, but we have to be realistic."

"Is there anyone that believes that North Korea would agree to a ban on nuclear weapons?" she asked.

- No more prestige -

Nuclear powers argue their arsenals serve as a deterrent against a nuclear attack and say they remain committed to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The decades-old NPT seeks to prevent the spread of atomic weapons but also puts the onus on nuclear states to reduce their stockpiles.

Impatience however is growing among many non-nuclear states over the slow pace of disarmament as are worries that the weapons of mass destruction will fall into the wrong hands.

Disarmament campaigners say the treaty will go a long way in increasing the stigma associated with nuclear weapons and will have an impact on public opinion.

"The key thing is that it changes the legal landscape," said Richard Moyes, director of the British-based organisation Article 36.

"It stops states with nuclear weapons from being able to hide behind the idea that they are not illegal."

"This is really about removing the prestige from nuclear weapons," said Beatrice Fihn, director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

"They are seen as something very valuable and as giving power. This is supposed to remove that."

During a meeting at the General Assembly, the treaty is expected to be adopted by consensus by the conference of nations that has negotiated the document without the nuclear powers and their allies.

After its adoption, the treaty will be open for signatures as of September 20 and will enter into force when 50 countries have ratified it.

During a vote at the UN General Assembly in December, 113 countries voted in favor of starting negotiations on the new treaty while 35 opposed the move and 13 abstained.

NUKEWARS
Modi, Netanyahu seek to deepen ties on first visit by an Indian PM
Jerusalem (AFP) July 5, 2017
Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday on the first ever visit by an Indian premier to Israel as they sought to deepen ties beyond high-priced defence deals. The two leaders presented a series of agreements between India and Israel for cooperation on satellite technology, water and agriculture, as well as the creation of a $40 million innovation fund. T ... read more

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