World Wrap: North Korea threatens to scrap truce

By Danielle Wiener-Bronner
March 5, 2013

North Korea warns it may call off its 60-year truce with South Korea, the search for a new pope continues after Benedict’s unprecedented resignation, and Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez could be on his last legs. Today is Tuesday, March 5, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.

North Korean villagers dance and soldiers take a rest at a North Korean village near the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in this picture taken just south of the border in Paju, north of Seoul, February 15, 2013. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won

Facing sanctions, North Korea threatens to end truce with South. In response to North Korea’s February 12 nuclear test, the U.S. and China have brokered a provisional deal on a draft U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution.  The details of the agreement are yet to be revealed, but U.N. diplomats have given a general outline:

Council diplomats have said that they would like to strengthen the provisions in previous sanctions resolutions adopted after North Korea's 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests, above all those related to the inspection and seizure of shipments of banned items and toughening financial restrictions.

In response to the prospect of increased sanctions, Pyongyang has stepped up its rhetoric. Following initial condemnations, North Korea claimed that the third nuclear test was executed in self-defense against the U.S. Now, North Korea’s state news agency KCNA reports, the Korean People’s Army Supreme Command spokesman has said that if the U.S. and South Korea move forward with military drills, the North will cancel the armistice it has had with the South Korea since 1953. Serious words from a nation that recently threatened the “final destruction” of its neighbor.

The papal plot thickens. More than 140 cardinals gathered for a first “general congregation” this week to help determine who will be the next pope. Only those below the age of 80 will be eligible for the papacy and allowed to vote in the conclave which will make the ultimate decision. All are hoping for access to a secret report prepared for the Pope Emeritus by three cardinals, which detailed the “Vatileaks” scandal and was cinematically exposed:

Paolo Gabriele, the pope's butler, was convicted of stealing personal papal documents and leaking them to the media. The documents alleged corruption and infighting over the running of its bank. Gabriele was jailed and later pardoned by Benedict.

Late last month the Vatican asserted that only the new pope will gain access to the document.

Hugo Chavez’s health takes a hit. It appears Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has been battling cancer since he was diagnosed in mid-2011, has taken a turn for the worse:

In one of the gloomiest announcements to date on Chavez's health, the government said on Monday night that his breathing problems had worsened and he was suffering from a "severe" new respiratory infection in a Caracas military hospital.

Photos of a smiling Chavez revealed in mid-February show a waxy visage. In the event of Chavez’s death, an election for a new president would take place within 30 days, with opposition leader Henrique Capriles and Chavez-endorsed Vice President Nicolas Maduro named as likely candidates.

Nota Bene: In Shanghai, families are living in shipping containers. The photos from Reuters are heartwrenching.

Standouts:

Russian Roulette - The trial of Russian anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky will move forward, even though Magnitsky has been dead for three years. (BBC)

Czech mate - The Czech Republic’s outgoing president has been charged with high treason. (The New York Times)

Not ready for my closeup - Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is unpleased with Forbes’ suggestion that he’s anything less than one of the world’s top-ten richest men. (Forbes)

Palestinian-only bus torched - Two of the Palestinian-only buses, launched by Israel yesterday, have been torched. (Al Jazeera)

Afghanistan’s tech revolution - Afghanistan takes a leadership role in the high-tech industry. (Time)

From the File:

  • Fifty wounded in Egypt port city as police battle protesters

  • Dead 60 years, Stalin's influence lingers in Putin's Russia

  • Italian president mulls new technocrat government

  • Kurdish rebels attack Turkish military vehicle

  • French unions lead protests over labor deal

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