«Будь-хто зможе отримати четверте щеплення від коронавірусу на основі консультації з лікарем», заявив керівник апарату Орбана
«Будь-хто зможе отримати четверте щеплення від коронавірусу на основі консультації з лікарем», заявив керівник апарату Орбана
Розмова, поміж іншого, стосувалася «зусиль США із посилення українських збройних сил через надання оборонної допомоги»
Autocratic leaders are facing a democratic backlash from their people in several countries around the world, according to the organization Human Rights Watch in its annual global report, which was published Thursday.
The report said that in the past 12 months there have been a series of military coups and crackdowns on opposition figures.
In Myanmar, the military seized power last February and ousted the democratically elected government, jailing President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.
In Nicaragua, opposition members were jailed on treason charges ahead of the November election, as President Daniel Ortega consolidated power.
In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni was re-elected in January 2021 after security forces arrested and beat opposition supporters and journalists, killed protesters, and disrupted opposition rallies.
“The conventional wisdom these days is that autocrats are in the ascendancy and democratic leaders are in the decline, but when we looked back over the last year, we found that that view is actually too superficial, too simplistic,” said Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, in an interview with VOA.
In fact, there are encouraging signs of democratic uprisings, Roth said. “There’s an emergence of a series of popular demonstrations, popular protests for democracy against the autocrat. And we’ve seen this in a range of countries: in Thailand, Myanmar and Sudan, in Uganda, Nicaragua, Cuba, Poland, many parts of the world, these outpourings of support for human rights, for democracy, and against autocratic rule.”
Despite the optimistic tone, the report catalogues the suppression of democracy and human rights in more than 100 countries. Tens of thousands of opposition activists, human rights defenders and civilians have been jailed, beaten or killed.
In Russia, opposition leader Alexey Navalny remains in prison on parole-related violations after surviving a nerve agent attack he blamed on the Kremlin. Russia denied involvement.
“The legislative crackdown that started in November 2020 intensified ahead of the September 2021 general elections,” the Human Rights Watch report says. “Numerous newly adopted laws broadened the authorities’ grounds to target a wide range of independent voices. Authorities used some of these laws and other measures, to smear, harass, and penalize human rights defenders, journalists, independent groups, political adversaries, and even academics. Many left Russia for their own safety or were expelled. Authorities took particular aim at independent journalism.”
Since December 2020, the report says, “the number of individuals and entities (that) authorities branded (as) ‘foreign media—foreign agent’ exploded, reaching 94 by early November. Most are prominent investigative journalists and independent outlets,” the report said.
Human Rights Watch says Moscow continues to suppress democracy at home and lend support to autocrats overseas, including President Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus, who has jailed hundreds of anti-government demonstrators and activists following the 2020 election that critics say was rigged.
Russia earlier this month sent troops to Kazakhstan to help its autocratic president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, crush anti-government protests. Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, continues to offer military support to his Syrian ally, Bashar al-Assad, who is accused of crimes against humanity in his brutal suppression of the 2011 uprising and its aftermath.
The report says China has locked up thousands of pro-democracy activists and has intensified its crackdown on democratic freedoms in Hong Kong following the imposition of the National Security Law on the territory.
“With President Xi Jinping at the helm, the Chinese government doubled down on repression inside and outside the country in 2021. Its ‘zero-tolerance’ policy towards COVID-19 strengthened the authorities’ hand, as they imposed harsh policies in the name of public health,” the Human Rights Watch report says.
“Authorities (are) committing crimes against humanity as part of a widespread and systematic attack on Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang, including mass detention, torture, and cultural persecution. Tibetans continued to be subjected to grave abuses, including harsh and lengthy imprisonment for exercising their basic rights,” the report adds. China has denied committing abuses in Xinjiang.
Rule by force
Roth says, despite the seemingly overwhelming force wielded by oppressive states, there is cause for hope.
“To maintain power by force is a very short-term strategy. If you look at Myanmar where the junta performed a coup almost a year ago, all they have is force. The entire population is against them. I think in Sudan, the military is facing something similar. They’ve just ousted the civilian prime minister, but they now face such a hostile population,” Roth told VOA.
The report says that in countries that still permit reasonably fair elections, opposition politicians – and electorates – are getting more sophisticated.
“We’ve seen the emergence in a number of countries that still permit reasonably fair elections of broad political coalitions, alliances for democracy. And we saw these coalitions oust Prime Minister (Andrej) Babiš in the Czech Republic, they got rid of (Benjamin) Netanyahu in Israel, they were really behind the coalition that chose Joe Biden to contest (U.S. President) Donald Trump. And today in Hungary and in Turkey, Prime Minister (Viktor) Orbán and President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan are facing similar broad coalitions that are really putting their grasp on power in jeopardy,” Roth said.
Human Rights Watch says the leaders of democratic countries must end their support for autocratic regimes, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt – and they must do a better job of delivering for their own people.
“Particularly today when there really are big global challenges, climate change, the pandemic, poverty and inequality, the threats from technology. These are huge problems that demand visionary leadership,” Roth told VOA.
“But instead, typically we’re getting from democratic leaders minimalism, incremental change, really short-term steps, and that’s not enough. If that’s all that they can come up with, they’re going to generate despair and frustration, which are going to be a breeding ground for a second wind for the autocrats.”
The Human Rights Watch report strikes an optimistic tone – but cautions that the “outcome of the battle between autocracy and democracy remains uncertain.”
«Коли було 120 справ, починаючи від Томосу і закінчуючи Мінськими угодами, я це ще терпів. Але це вже друга справа про державну зраду»
In an attempt to attract more foreign students, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire says it will admit international students regardless of their ability to pay tuition.
International students will be admitted through a “need blind” process used for U.S. students.
The college charges about $80,000 per year for tuition and accommodation.
“Talent is spread all across the world,” college president Philip Hanlon told the Financial Times. “We want to remove any financial barriers. This move benefits every student on campus, not just international ones. Tomorrow’s leaders have to be global citizens. By us bringing together students from all over the world … they will learn from their peers.”
A variety of factors has led to decreased numbers of international students applying to U.S. colleges. These include rising costs, stricter visa policies and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dartmouth said its most recent class took in 14% international students, compared to 8% in 2013 when Hanlon took charge.
A handful of other universities is taking similar measures.
In the Dartmouth College statement, Hanlon said that while there was no target, he expected “international applications will skyrocket” and would not be surprised if the proportion reached 25 percent in the coming decade.
“Dartmouth has stepped up recruitment abroad, diversifying from students often drawn from richer families in Canada, Europe, China and India to offer financial aid to those from countries such as Kenya, Vietnam and Brazil,” the report said.
Активіст розповів, що просив відтермінувати виплату боргу через відновлення спаленого будинку, але замість відповіді ДПС «отримав позов»
Міністр інфраструктури Молдови заявив, що ціна на газ для країни зросла з 550 доларів за тисячу кубометрів у грудні до 647 доларів
First-time claims for U.S. unemployment compensation increased unexpectedly last week to their highest level since mid-November, suggesting some employers may be laying off workers as the omicron variant of the coronavirus surges throughout the country and curtails some business operations.
The Labor Department said Thursday 230,000 filed for jobless benefits, up 23,000 from the week before, but the figure was still below the 256,000 figure recorded in mid-March, 2020, when the coronavirus first swept into the United States and businesses started laying off workers by the hundreds of thousands.
For the most part, employers have been retaining their workers and searching for more as the United States continues its rapid economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The country’s unemployment rate dropped in December to 3.9%, not far above the five-decade low of 3.5% recorded before the pandemic disrupted the world’s biggest economy.
Many employers are looking for more workers, despite about 6.9 million workers remaining unemployed in the United States.
At the end of November, there were 10.4 million job openings in the U.S., but the skills of available workers often do not match what employers want, or the job openings are not where the unemployed live. In addition, many of the available jobs are low-wage service positions that the jobless are shunning.
U.S. employers added only 199,000 new jobs in December, a lower-than-expected figure. But overall, 6.3 million jobs were created through 2021 in a much quicker recovery than many economists had originally forecast a year ago.
The U.S. economic advance is occurring even as President Joe Biden and Washington policy makers, along with consumers, are expressing concerns about the biggest increase in consumer prices in four decades – 7% at an annualized rate in December.
The surging inflation rate has pushed policy makers at the country’s central bank, the Federal Reserve, to move more quickly to end their asset purchases they had used to boost the country’s economic recovery, by March rather than in mid-2022 as originally planned.
Minutes of the Fed board’s most recent meeting showed that policy makers are eyeing a faster pace for raising the benchmark interest rate that they have kept at near zero percent since the pandemic started.
The Federal Reserve has said it could raise the rate, which influences the borrowing costs for loans made to businesses and consumers, by a quarter-percentage-point three times this year to tamp down inflationary pressures.
Meanwhile, government statistics show U.S. consumers are paying sharply higher prices for food, meals at restaurants, gasoline at service stations, and for new and used vehicles.
Дипломати та авіаперевізник працюють над якнайшвидшим відновленням рейсів Алмати – Київ, кажуть в МЗС
In a landmark ruling, a German Court Thursday convicted a former Syrian intelligence officer of crimes against humanity for his role in state-sponsored torture and murder under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
The regional court in the western city of Koblenz found 58-year-old Anwar Raslan guilty of overseeing the murder of 27 people at the al-Khatib detention center in Damascus, also known as “Branch 251”, in 2011 and 2012.
Raslan has denied all charges.
Raslan and another defendant, junior officer Eyad al-Gharib, were put on trial in April 2020. Gharib was accused of helping to arrest protesters and deliver them to the detention center. He was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison last year.
Their trials were the first to address state-led torture during Syria’s civil war, which began in 2011.
Efforts by the U.N. Security Council to refer Raslan’s and other cases from Syria to the Hague-based International Criminal Court have been blocked by Syria’s main allies, Russia and China. The German court tried the two men under the principle of universal jurisdiction for serious crimes.
Human rights activists hope the trial will set a new precedent. Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth told the French news agency, AFP, the verdict was historic, and expressed his hope the trials will allow nations around the world to try suspects for war crimes, and mass atrocities in their own countries.
Some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.
The European Union’s drug regulator is warning that too many doses of COVID-19 vaccines could eventually weaken the body’s immune system, rendering the extra shots ineffective.
Marco Cavaleri, the head of vaccine strategy for the European Medicines Agency, said earlier this week that booster shots can be administered “once, or maybe twice, but it’s not something that we think should be repeated constantly.” Cavaleri said instead that boosters should be administered just like an annual flu vaccination.
Cavaleri is the latest health expert to urge against offering a fourth shot of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine in an effort to provide extra protection against emerging variants of the coronavirus. Britain’s Health Security Agency said last week there was “no immediate need” for people to get a fourth shot, as the current booster regimens are providing good levels of protection. The World Health Organization has repeatedly said that providing first doses to poorer nations is a higher priority than richer nations offering boosters.
In China, authorities in the central city of Xi’an have ordered two hospitals to temporarily shut down amid reports they denied treatment for critical patients in two incidents. A pregnant woman suffered a miscarriage after personnel at Gaoxin Hospital refused to admit her because she did not have a valid COVID-19 test. Meanwhile, a woman posted on social media that her father died of a heart ailment after he was refused treatment at Xi’an International Medical Center.
The city of 13 million people, home of the world-famous Terracotta Warrior sculptures, has been under strict lockdown protocols since December, sparked by a wave of COVID-19 infections driven by the delta variant of the coronavirus. Residents have not been allowed to leave their homes unless they have essential jobs or are undergoing testing, which has led to a massive backlash.
At least three-quarters of all teachers in France walked out of their classrooms Thursday to protest what they said are the government’s inconsistent COVID-19 health protocols for educators and students.
France’s largest teachers union, SNUipp-FSU, says the strike “demonstrates the growing despair in schools” as the government has issued three changes in coronavirus testing rules in the space of a week. Teachers are also angry over a lack of highly protective masks and air quality monitors.
Separately, France’s minister of tourism says it will relax restrictions on travelers from Britain effective Friday. Fully vaccinated visitors will not be required to enter into quarantine upon their arrival, nor will they have to provide a compelling reason for traveling to France, but will still have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours of their trip.
Some information for this report came from Agence France-Presse.
«Нехай цей жорстокий урок для всіх нас стане останнім у нашій історії. Це неправильно, коли люди гинуть у мирний час», – написала Алія Назарбаєва
Повідомляється, що зловмисники проводили складні фінансові операції із використанням низки онлайн сервісів, у тому числі й заборонених в Україні
Супутник дистанційного зондування землі «СІЧ-2-30» розробили та виготовили фахівці державного конструкторського бюро «Південне» в Дніпрі
When a gunfight erupted during clashes in Diyarbakir in October 2014, video journalist Rojhat Dogru was at the center of the action.
At one point, a little too close. Hit by a bullet, Dogru was rushed to a hospital, where he uploaded footage to the Iraq-based Gali Kurdistan TV while being treated.
The coverage won Dogru an award but now, seven years after the clashes, the video journalist is fighting a life sentence.
A court in Diyarbakir last week issued the sentence after convicting Dogru of “disrupting the unity and integrity of the state.” It further sentenced him to 10 years and 10 months for “attempted deliberate killing,” and a year and three months for “propagandizing for a terrorist organization.”
The verdict has appalled press freedom advocates.
“This is the heaviest punishment I’ve seen recently. There is no murder, no bombing, but it is just news coverage,” Veysel Ok, co-director of Turkey’s Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA), told VOA.
As a Kurdish journalist, Dogru covered events in Diyarbakir and the region for Gali Kurdistan TV, including footage on what is known as the Kobani protests in 2014. That coverage earned him a Southeastern Journalists Association award.
Protests broke out that year after pro-Kurdish groups claimed Ankara was reluctant to help Kurds in Kobani, a city in neighboring Syria besieged by the Islamic State militants.
Police were called in as the protests turned violent, with clashes between supporters of the Free Cause Party, an offshoot of a violent Kurdish Islamist militant group, and PKK supporters. The PKK is designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. and Turkey.
Official figures put the death toll at 37, and an indictment in the mass court case lists hundreds wounded as well as schools and public buildings damaged and over 1,700 homes and businesses looted.
The Turkish government accuses the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) of instigating the protests, and over 100 people, including former HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, have stood trial for the protests.
The HDP denies the charges against it.
From awards to lawsuits
In an interview about his coverage that day, Dogru spoke of the crucial role journalists play in documenting such events.
“I took the footage of the moments when two groups shot each other on the streets in an unbiased and objective way. This footage was crucial in terms of showing that both sides in the conflict had weapons in their hands,” Dogru said in an article published on the MLSA’s website days before the court issued its verdict.
“Although I was injured, I continued to take a video. I even took video of the moments when I was injured with my camera,” Dogru said.
The journalist was left needing treatment for injuries to his chin, stomach and leg.
The first lawsuit against Dogru was filed three years after the clashes, the journalist’s lawyer, Resul Temur, told VOA.
The plaintiff, named in some reports as Ridvan Ozdemir, alleges he was caught in the clashes and injured by a gun fired from Dogru’s direction.
Ozdemir alleged that Dogru shot him, and a case was filed on charges of “disrupting the unity and integrity of the state” and “attempted deliberate killing.”
Dogru denied the allegation, telling the MLSA “it is beyond normal to shoot with a gun in one hand while taking a footage with the camera in the other.”
He added that an expert witness watched the footage and, in a report filed with the court, said that Dogru had not used a gun.
During the trial, said Temur, the plaintiff did not remember whether Dogru was holding a camera.
“We said that it was strange that he did not remember the camera but remembered the gun,” Temur said.
More charges followed in 2018 when authorities allegedly found Dogru’s number on a PKK member detained by the police in Diyarbakir.
In December of that year, Dogru was held in pretrial detention on accusations of “membership of a terrorist organization.” He was released in February 2019 under judicial control.
A judge in Diyarbakir later combined the legal charges into one case, which reached its conclusion on January 6.
An arrest warrant was also issued for the journalist, who did not attend the hearing in person.
Temur told VOA they have appealed and called the trial “biased.”
‘A heavy price’
The verdict astonished press freedom advocates who believe that a higher court should reverse it on appeal.
“It is against the nature of the job of a cameraman to shoot with one hand and use a gun with another. This was refuted by the expert report [in the court]. So, the punishment is not acceptable,” Mucahit Ceylan, president of the Southeast Journalists Association, told VOA.
“In this region at critical times, [Dogru] risked his own life to cover the news, was injured, and now he is punished,” Ceylan said.
He believes the verdict will be overturned on appeal.
Ok, the MLSA co-director, was also shocked by the heavy sentence.
“Of course, there is a possibility that this will be reverted from the Constitution and European Court of Human Rights, but [until then] he will eventually spend years in prison,” Ok told VOA. “A heavy price will be paid, and there is nothing legal about it.”
This story originated in VOA’s Turkish Service.
Efforts to de-escalate tensions along the Russia-Ukraine border shift Thursday to Vienna and a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Permanent Council.
The session follows a bilateral meeting between Russia and the United States in Geneva on Monday and talks Wednesday in Brussels between Russia and NATO.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters that after Thursday’s meeting, the parties involved would reflect on the discussions and “determine appropriate next steps.”
Price said Wednesday the United States expects the Russian delegations to the three sets of meetings will “have to report back to [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin, who we all hope will choose peace and security, and knowing that we are sincere, and that we are steadfast when we say we prefer the course of diplomacy and dialogue.”
The United States and its NATO allies have urged Russia to de-escalate tensions and for the situation to be resolved diplomatically, and on Wednesday offered ideas for reciprocal actions to reduce risks, improve transparency and communication and arms control.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who led the U.S. delegation in Brussels, said the NATO-Russia meeting ended with “a sober challenge” for Moscow to reduce tensions and “choose the path of diplomacy, to continue to engage in honest and reciprocal dialogue so that together we can identify solutions that enhance the security of all,” during a press conference.
After the nearly four-hour meeting on Wednesday, Sherman said, “there was no commitment to de-escalate, nor was there a statement that there would not be.”
She added Russia heard loudly and clearly it is very hard to have diplomacy when 100,000 of its troops are massed along the Ukrainian border, and as live fire exercises are being conducted.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he has proposed the idea of a series of meetings with Russia, which asked for time to return with an answer.
“NATO allies are ready to engage in dialogue with Russia, but we will not compromise on core principles, we will not compromise on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of every nation in Europe,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels.
Russia has sought security guarantees such as the withdrawal of NATO troops and military equipment from countries that border Russia, and limiting the expansion of the 30-member NATO alliance. It has also denied it has plans to invade Ukraine.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told reporters Wednesday that the discussions with NATO were deep and substantive, but said Russia does not seriously consider NATO to be a defensive alliance that poses no threat to Russia.
“If NATO opts for the policy of deterrence, we will respond with a policy of counter-deterrence,” Grushko said. “If it turns to intimidation, we will respond with counter-intimidation. If it looks for vulnerabilities in Russia’s defense system, we will look for NATO’s vulnerabilities. It’s not our choice, but we don’t have other options if we don’t overturn this current very dangerous course of events.”
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy proposed a new international summit to end the crisis.
“It is time to agree in a substantive manner on an end to the conflict, and we are ready to take the necessary decisions during a new summit of the leaders of the four countries,” Zelenskiy said Tuesday in a statement following a meeting with European diplomats.
In Washington, Democratic lawmakers Wednesday proposed a comprehensive sanctions package to deter Russia from further aggression.
The Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act of 2022 would impose crippling sanctions on the Russian banking sector and senior military and government officials if Putin escalates hostile action against Ukraine.
U.S. President Joe Biden has ruled out a military confrontation with Russia in the event it decides to attack Ukraine, but he says the U.S. and its allies would impose significant economic sanctions if Russia does invade.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.
As the United States and Russia met for talks in Geneva this week, the future security of Europe was at stake. But absent from the negotiating table was the European Union, to the clear frustration of the bloc’s officials.
“On this dialogue, there are not two actors alone. It’s not just U.S. and Russia. If you want to talk about security in Europe, Europeans have to be part of the table,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters January 5.
Borrell made the comments following a visit to the front lines of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed rebels continue to fight Ukrainian forces nearly seven years after Moscow’s forceful annexation of Crimea.
The EU is late to the table, says analyst Liana Fix, a resident fellow at the German Marshall Fund in Washington.
“The problem here is that the European Union has not been involved formally in talks in 2014 when the Ukraine crisis started. Back then we had Germany and France in the Normandy format [talks] and no official EU representative,” Fix told VOA.
“On the other side, the European Union should make it clear what it can contribute to the discussion,” she said. “Within the European Union, the question is: Who is more powerful — the member states or the EU as an institution itself? And on the other hand, in Moscow, the EU is not taken seriously.”
There are fears the smoldering war in eastern Ukraine could be about to reignite. In recent months, Russia has massed over 100,000 troops close to the Ukrainian border, prompting Western fears of an imminent invasion. Meanwhile, Moscow complains of a NATO military buildup in Eastern Europe and has warned of the dangers of confrontation.
Those tensions came to a diplomatic head this week. But neither the U.S.-Russia bilateral talks nor Wednesday’s summit between NATO and Russia — the first such meeting in two years — appear to have yielded progress.
Amid a changing world order and rising geopolitical tensions, France is leading a European push for what Paris calls greater “strategic sovereignty,” partly driven by doubts about America’s commitment to NATO that took root during the administration of former President Donald Trump.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said this week that Russian President Vladimir Putin was deliberately trying to bypass the EU.
“He has no consideration for the European Union, and he is totally determined to try to put dents in European unity, which is solidifying,” Le Drian told BFM TV.
Moscow also aims to undermine the transatlantic alliance, argues analyst Petro Burkovskiy, a senior fellow at the Kyiv-based Democratic Initiatives Foundation.
“Russia uses these talks in order to destroy trust between the United States and European partners and tries to demonstrate that the United States [is] ready to discuss its security in Europe and discuss its policy in Europe behind the European partners,” Burkovskiy told The Associated Press.
Key EU role
Without its own military force, the European Union as an institution may not be taken seriously by Moscow — but it does have a key role to play, said Fix.
“When the European Union and the United States now think about sanctions towards Russia in case of an intervention, of an invasion of Ukraine, then it is the European Union that will have to deliver an economic sanctions package and have to deliver the agreement of all member states,” Fix said.
Meanwhile, following talks between NATO and Russian officials Wednesday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who led the United States’ delegation, said transatlantic allies were united.
“I think one of the things that Russia has done, which it probably did not expect, it has brought all of Europe, NATO and non-NATO allies alike, together, to share the same set of principles, the same ambition, the same hopes and the same commitment to diplomacy,” she told reporters.
As the United States and Russia met for talks in Geneva this week, the future security of Europe was at stake. But the European Union was not present – and bloc officials have voiced growing frustration, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
The United States is proposing more international sanctions against North Korea, as part of a wider effort to ramp up pressure on Pyongyang following its most recent missile tests.
The United States Wednesday strengthened its own sanctions against North Korea, designating five North Koreans it alleges are responsible for securing goods for Pyongyang’s weapons programs.
On top of those measures, the United States wants the United Nations Security Council to impose stronger sanctions, according to a tweet from Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
She did not offer any more details.
There was no immediate reaction from China and Russia, which are permanent members of the Security Council and would need to approve any sanctions. Both have recently called for North Korea sanctions to be relaxed rather than strengthened.
North Korea is already barred from a wide range of economic activity under a series of Security Council resolutions. China and Russia agreed to many of those sanctions following North Korea’s 2017 nuclear and long-range missile tests.
Since then, North Korea has refrained from nuclear tests or intercontinental ballistic missile launches. In 2019, though, the North resumed launches of shorter-range weapons. It has since unveiled several new systems, including many designed to evade the missile defenses of the U.S. and its allies.
Already this year North Korea has conducted two tests of what it described as hypersonic missiles. The missiles feature maneuverable reentry vehicles that detach in flight and are theoretically harder to intercept.
U.S. officials condemned the launches, pointing out that North Korea is banned from ballistic missile activity by existing U.N. sanctions.
On Wednesday, the United States went a step further. The Treasury Department sanctioned four China-based North Koreans and a Russia-based North Korean, accusing them of procuring materials for North Korea’s weapons programs.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States “will use every appropriate tool” to address North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, “which constitute a serious threat to international peace and security and undermine the global nonproliferation regime.”
Taken together, the moves suggest the United States is taking a firmer stance on North Korean missile tests. Since 2019, the United States has played down North Korea’s short-range launches, presumably to preserve the possibility for future talks.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Wednesday that the U.S. approach toward North Korea “remains unchanged.”
“I would strenuously object to the idea that these sanctions indicate anything other than a genuine effort to constrain North Korea’s – in this case, their ballistic missile programs,” Price said at a regular press briefing. The United States remains “willing, ready, and able” to engage in diplomacy with North Korea, he added.
North Korea walked away from nuclear talks in 2019 and has said it will not rejoin them until the United States drops its “hostile policy.”
The United States appears to be balancing the need to respond to North Korea’s tests against its goal of keeping the door open to negotiations, Eric Brewer, a former White House National Security Council official, said.
“It seems they are framing this in strictly counterproliferation terms and avoiding some of the language that would suggest a larger pressure-centric effort is in the offing,” said Brewer, who now focuses on nuclear policy at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Despite the apparent inability of existing sanctions to prevent North Korea from developing its nuclear weapons program, U.S. officials have defended the approach, saying it is important to set a precedent for other nations considering acquiring nuclear weapons.
“We continue to enact measures that put constraints on these WMD and ballistic missile programs, that hold proliferators and other bad actors accountable for their activity,” Price said Wednesday. “We’ll continue to do that.”
Many of the people attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border are asylum seekers, and the vast majority come from three Central American nations: Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. In 2021, migrant arrivals to the U.S.-Mexico border reached multi-decade highs, but border surges are not a new phenomenon and are the product of a complex set of factors, the roots of which span generations. This video explores the roots of Central American migration to the U.S.