World Wrap

North Korea threatens U.S. with nuclear strike

By Danielle Wiener-Bronner
March 7, 2013

North Korea threatens preemptive nuclear strike ahead of U.N. sanctions vote, Syrian rebels capture peacekeepers, and Kenya’s election hangs in the balance. Today is Thursday, March 7, and this is World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.

A North Korean flag on a tower flutters in the wind 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

North Korea ramps up threats as U.N. increases sanctions. Today the United Nations voted to adopt sanctions against North Korea in response to the hermit kingdom’s nuclear test in February. The sanctions proposed by the U.S. and China will bar North Korea’s elite from importing luxury goods, as well as implement an arms embargo and forbid trade in nuclear and missile technology. In anticipation of the vote, North Korea responded (as usual) with bombastic claims, this time threatening a preemptive nuclear strike on the U.S. Chinese participation is integral to the sanctions’ success. A weak trade relationship with the U.S. could dull the sanctions’ effect on Pyongyang:

China is thought to be harboring a lump sum of Pyongyang’s financial assets, according to numerous experts who study the North, while simultaneously providing the North with funds and resources as its biggest trade partner.

Syrian rebels take U.N. peacekeepers hostage. Rebels captured 21 U.N. personnel near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, demanding that the Syrian army withdraw from the area before their release. Though the peacekeepers have been in the Golan region since 1967, the Yarmouk Martyrs’ Brigade responsible for the abduction claims the peacekeepers have ties to Bashar al-Assad’s government:

In a video released to announce the capture of the U.N. convoy on Wednesday, a member of the Yarmouk Martyrs’ Brigade accused the peacekeepers of collaborating with Assad’s forces to try to push them out of village of Jamla which the rebels seized on Sunday after heavy fighting.

The capture marks the most direct attack on U.N. personnel in Syria’s conflict. See amateur footage released by the captors here.

Vote counting continues as Kenyan candidate cries foul. Kenyan presidential candidate Raila Odinga’s running mate, Kalonzo Musyoka, today called into question the integrity of the preliminary election results and demanded that counting be put on hold:

Musyoka questioned the sharp fall in the number of spoiled ballots counted as Kenya scrapped an electronic tallying system and switched to rely solely on a manual one. The amount of those ballots could have a significant impact on the outcome.

Election officials say the process has not been compromised, and that they will continue to tally the votes. Western powers remain wary of a government led by Odinga’s opponent Uhuru Kenyatta, who has been charged with crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.

Nota Bene: Reuters has haunting photos of Syrian families fleeing violence and settling into refugee camps.

Standouts:

Chavismo after Chavez - Reuters columnist Michael Shifter considers what a post-Chavez Venezuela will look like. (Reuters)

“I am a bomb” - A French mother has been put on trial for sending her son to school in a 9/11-themed t-shirt. (BBC)

Violence and infection - African ministers say the link between HIV and violence against women must be highlighted in an upcoming U.N. report. (The Guardian)

Unbearable - A proposal to ban the trade of polar bear parts has failed. (The New York Times)

Freedom of the press - Burma soon will be allowed to freely distribute daily newspapers for the first time in 50 years. (The Atlantic)

From the File:

  • Iran’s leader condemns West for not making nuclear concessions
  • Berlusconi gets jail sentence in wiretap trial
  • Malaysia troops kill 31 Philippine militants; ceasefire offer rejected
  • French minister visits troops in north Mali, says mission not over
  • Tribesmen release two Britons kidnapped in Egypt

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