Defense

  • South Korea on Friday sanctioned eight people and seven organizations suspected of engaging in illicit activities to finance North Korea’s growing nuclear weapons and missile programs. The move was largely symbolic considering the lack of financial exchanges and business activities between the rival Koreas. But the steps Friday may still draw an irritated response from North Korea. In November, the North called South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and his government a “wild dog gnawing on a bone given by the U.S.” over Seoul's plans to place unilateral sanctions on Pyongyang. The U.S. Treasury Department also said it sanctioned three members of North Korea’s ruling party who provided support to the country’s weapons development.

    December 01, 2022
  • The Biden administration has imposed sanctions on three members of North Korea's ruling party central committee for their involvement in the country's ballistic missile program. The Treasury Department is targeting the three with asset freezes and bans on Americans conducting any type of business with them. North Korea has ramped up its ballistic missile testing to a record pace this year. With more than 60 launches, it's dialing up pressure on Washington and Seoul. The department says the officials “played major roles” in North Korea’s development of weapons in violation of United Nations resolutions and “have personally attended numerous ballistic missile launches since at least 2017.”

    December 01, 2022
  • The last veteran of Mexico's relatively small contingent of World War II veterans has died. Mexico's Defense Department says former Sgt. Horacio Castilleja Albarrán was 98 when he died Wednesday. A cause of death was not provided. Castilleja Albarrán was one of about 300 Mexican soldiers and airmen in Squadron 201, known as the Aztec Eagles. They were sent from Mexico to help in the U.S. war effort against Japan. The aircraft squadron fought alongside the U.S. Army Air Forces in the Philippines in 1945. Mexico was late to enter World War II, but declared war after German submarines sank several Mexican oil tankers.

    December 01, 2022
  • Congo’s military is accusing the M23 rebels of breaching a cease-fire with an attack that killed at least 50 people earlier this week. A statement issued Thursday by Congo's military spokesman warns that the army will take action to defend civilians from the rebels. However, the political spokesperson for M23 vigorously denies the report, calling the allegations baseless. The U.N. peacekeeping mission known as MONUSCO say the violence took place Tuesday in Kishishe village “and included a high number of civilian casualties.” A local civil society group said Thursday that the death toll had risen after more bodies were discovered in a field near Bwito, and other civilians were reported missing after the attack.

    December 01, 2022
  • Russian shelling has cut off power in much of the recently liberated Ukrainian city of Kherson just days after it was restored. Moscow is pressing its drive to destroy Ukraine's energy plants and other key civilian infrastructure as freezing weather sets in. In Kyiv, Mayor Vitali Klitschko warned the capital’s millions of residents on Thursday that they should stock up on water and preserved food to see them through a winter that could be miserable if more energy infrastructure is damaged. He also urged people to consider leaving the city. The Ukrainian defense minister said “trying months lie ahead." Ukraine has faced a blistering onslaught of Russian artillery fire and drone attacks since early October.

    December 01, 2022
  • Serbia's government announces that it has named a staunchly pro-Russian politician as the Balkan state’s new spy chief. It said in a statement Thursday that Aleksandar Vulin, who was Serbia’s interior minister in the previous government and had served as defense minister before that, is taking over as the director of BIA, Serbia’s intelligence agency.  As Serbia’s interior minister, Vulin visited Moscow in August, a rare trip by a European state official that underscored Belgrade’s refusal to join Western sanctions against Russia over its war in Ukraine.

    December 01, 2022
  • A second former Army soldier has pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from the killing of a fellow service member found dead at a Georgia base. U.S. District Court records show 21-year-old Jordan Brown pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of assaulting a military service member and witness intimidation. Prosecutors say Brown was serving as an Army specialist at Fort Stewart in 2020 when another soldier reported him for marijuana use. They say Brown conspired to seek revenge with a former sergeant, who stabbed and slashed 21-year-old Army Spc. Austin Hawk dozens of times. Hawk was found dead the next day in his barracks room. The ex-sergeant, Byron Booker, pleaded guilty in October to a federal murder charge.

    December 01, 2022
  • Spanish officials say a suspicious parcel has been discovered at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid and detonated by police. The finding on Thursday came as police reported a wave of explosive packages being sent in Spain, including one that ignited at the Ukrainian Embassy on Wednesday, injuring one person. Police say other explosive devices concealed in postal packages were sent over the past two days to Spain’s Defense Ministry, a European Union satellite center in Spain and an arms factory that makes grenades sent to Ukraine. An earlier one was sent to the Spanish Prime Minister. There were no other reports of injuries.

    December 01, 2022
  • Ethiopia says a joint committee from the federal government and Tigray forces has convened inside the Tigray region to outline disarmament plans as part of a peace deal signed last month in the two-year conflict. It is the first time the two sides have officially held talks in Ethiopia since the fighting began. Ethiopia’s government said in a tweet on Thursday that the committee started work Wednesday in the town of Shire. However, Tigray officials say that before disarmament can start, Ethiopia’s government should remove forces who came from Eritrea and the neighboring Amhara region.

    December 01, 2022
  • A Hong Kong court has postponed a pro-democracy newspaper publisher's trial. Jimmy Lai faces a possible life sentence if convicted under a National Security Law imposed by Beijing. Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee asked Beijing to decide whether foreign lawyers who don't normally practice in Hong Kong can be rejected for national security cases. The objection came after judges on Monday approved Lai’s plan to hire British human rights lawyer Timothy Owen. The trial is being delayed until Beijing makes a decision. If Beijing intervenes, that would mark the sixth time the Communist-ruled government has stepped into the city’s legal affairs.

    December 01, 2022
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called for a major political conference before the end of the year to talk about key state affairs at which he is expected to address his increasingly tense relations with Washington and Seoul over the expansion of his nuclear and missile programs. North Korea has ramped up missile testing to a record pace this year, dialing up pressure on Washington and Seoul. But Kim has also been struggling to improve a heavily sanctioned economy made worse by pandemic border closures. That's an issue he may also address during the yearend meeting. In recent years, Kim has used political conferences in late December or early January to reveal his most important goals.

    December 01, 2022
  • When peace returns to Ukraine, many thousands of its combatants will likely return from the battlefields bearing psychological scars. Psychologists, veterans affairs officers and former soldiers are working to head off a potential mental health crisis when troops transition to civilian life. A mental health rehabilitation center for soldiers on the outskirts of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, treats post-traumatic disorders with acupuncture, soothing sounds and other therapies. A former paratrooper who ran a half-marathon to raise awareness and funds for treatments says healthy-looking soldiers suffer inwardly. He worries about the risks of traumatized soldiers taking their own lives or turning guns on others.

    December 01, 2022
  • Hong Kong publisher Jimmy Lai broke into the media industry about 30 years ago armed with the belief that delivering information equates with delivering freedom. Lai now is accused of endangering national security with his now-defunct pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily. Lai, 74, faces up to a life sentence if he is convicted under a sweeping National Security Law that Beijing imposed on the former British colony in 2020. His high-profile trial was slated to begin Thursday, but is being postponed. Lai's decision to hire a British defense lawyer is the basis of the appeal for delaying the trial. Hong Kong leader John Lee has asked Beijing to issue a ruling that could effectively block the veteran barrister from representing Lai.

    November 30, 2022
  • The U.N. Security Council has voted unanimously to keep pressing all countries to implement a resolution aimed at keeping nuclear, chemical and biological weapons out of the hands of terrorists, black marketeers and others. The council resolution approved Wednesday extends the mandate of the committee monitoring implementation of the 2004 resolution on the threat of “non-state actors” obtaining or trafficking weapons of mass destruction until Nov. 30, 2032. The resolution calls on the committee and the 193 U.N. member nations to take into account the use by non-government groups and individuals of rapid advances in science and technology to spread the use of these banned weapons.

    November 30, 2022