The report’s experts monitor the multiple sanctions imposed on Pyongyang to attempt to force it to suspend its nuclear and ballistic weapons programs.
North Korea and Iran resumed cooperation on the development of long-range missiles in 2020, according to a UN report that also confirmed Pyongyang continues to violate various nuclear resolutions.
The annual report, produced by an independent panel of UN experts, was submitted to the Security Council on Monday and seen by AFP.
It said Tehran denies any such missile cooperation with North Korea.
But according to an unnamed member state, North Korea and Iran “have resumed cooperation on long-range missile development projects,” the report states.
“This resumed cooperation is said to have included the transfer of critical parts, with the most recent shipment associated with this relationship taking place in 2020.”
The report’s experts monitor the multiple sanctions imposed on Pyongyang to attempt to force it to suspend its nuclear and ballistic weapons programs.
In a December 21 reply, Iran stated the “preliminary review of the information provided to us by the (experts) indicates that false information and fabricated data may have been used in investigations and analyses.”
In their assessment of North Korea, the experts said Pyongyang “maintained and developed its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.”
Pyongyang last year announced preparation for testing and production of new ballistic missile warheads and development of tactical nuclear weapons.
“It produced fissile material, maintained nuclear facilities and upgraded its ballistic missile infrastructure. It continued to seek material and technology for these programs from overseas,” the expert report states.
The experts also investigated cases in which North Korea acquired ships, sold fishing rights and continued to export coal in violation of sanctions.
North Korea’s border closure due to the pandemic may have hampered those shipments, however.
The experts also found that North Korea had continued to import more refined petroleum than is allowed under its 500,000-barrel limit, sometimes by using “elaborate subterfuge.”
“According to imagery, data and calculations received from a member state covering the period 1 January to 30 September, in 2020 these illicit shipments exceeded the annual aggregate 500,000-barrel cap by several times,” the report states.
Last year, like the year before, the US presented satellite imagery and data to show North Korea was surpassing its quotas.
China and Russia, North Korea’s main supporters, have rejected the US claims and say petroleum imports are much smaller.
Popular Nigerian songstress, Yemi Alade has been appointed by the United Nations to be her Goodwill Ambassador.
This comes after legendary singer, Innocent ‘2Baba’ Idibia was appointed a UNHCR goodwill ambassador for refugees
Receiving the appointment, the singer revealed that she is ready to roll up her sleeves and get to work in helping UNDP achieve its sustainable development goals by 2030 especially at this critical time where Covid-19 has impacted on many lives, further widening the gap between the rich and the poor.
Qatar’s leader says Israel continues to carry out ‘flagrant violation of international resolutions’.
Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has questioned the credibility of the international community as it “stands by, unable to take any effective action to confront Israeli intransigence and its continued occupation of Palestinian and Arab land”.
In his video speech at the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, the emir questioned the role of countries and organisations for failing to uphold the resolutions against the continued Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and its expansion of settlement building.
He accused Israel of carrying out “flagrant violation of international resolutions and the two-state solution as agreed upon by the international community”.
“The international community stands by, unable to take any effective action to confront Israeli intransigence, its continued occupation of Palestinian and Arab land, the imposition of a stifling siege on the Gaza Strip, [and] the expanding settlement policy, among others,” he said.
“Peace can only be achieved when Israel fully commits to the international terms of reference and resolutions that are accepted by the Arab countries and upon which the Arab Peace Initiative is based.”
The Arab Peace Initiative was a plan put forth by Saudi Arabia in 2002 that called for normalising relations with Israel in exchange for an end to its occupation of Palestinian territories, the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital, as well as a just solution for Palestinian refugees.
Qatar’s ruler said Israel is trying to “circumvent these parameters” and any arrangements that do not take these factors into account “will not achieve peace”.
“Failure to find a just solution to the Palestinian cause, Israel’s continued settlements, and forcing a reality on the ground without being deterred, this is what raises the biggest question about the credibility of the international community and its institutions,” the emir added.
He called upon the international community, particularly the UN Security Council, to assume its legal responsibilities and “compel Israel to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip, and to put the peace process back on track through credible negotiations based on international resolutions and not on force”.
Speaking from outside the UN headquarters in New York, Noble Reporters Media knows that it was interesting to see many Arab states within the Arab League remain consistent in their views on Israel and Palestine – which revolves around the international consensus that there should be a two-state solution.
On September 15, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed agreements to normalise relations with Israel in a strategic realignment of Middle Eastern countries against Iran.
The ceremony was hosted by US President Donald Trump at the White House, capping a dramatic month when the countries agreed to normalise ties without a resolution of Israel’s decades-old conflict with the Palestinians, who have condemned the agreements
Washington isolated as global allies and adversaries say its unilateral move targeting Tehran has no legal standing.
The United States has broken with all other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and unilaterally declared the re-imposition of all UN sanctions against Iran – a claim rejected by Iran and the international community, including Washington’s close allies, as having no legal basis.
In a statement on Sunday following the expiration of a deadline set by the US, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened “consequences” for any UN member state that does not comply with the punitive measures, which were lifted under a landmark nuclear deal that was signed between six world powers and Iran in 2015 but was abandoned by the US more than two years ago.
In addition to adhering to a conventional arms embargo that is due to expire next month, Pompeo said member states must comply with restrictions such as the ban on Iran engaging in nuclear enrichment and reprocessing-related activities; the prohibition on ballistic missile testing and development; and sanctions on transfer of nuclear and missile-related technologies.
“If UN Member States fail to fulfil their obligations to implement these sanctions, the United States is prepared to use our domestic authorities to impose consequences for those failures and ensure that Iran does not reap the benefits of UN-prohibited activity,” Pompeo said.
His statement came a month after the US officially triggered the process aimed at restoring all UN sanctions on Iran, claiming significant Iranian violations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan for Action (JCPOA), the formal name for the 2015 deal that was endorsed by the Security Council.
Despite the US in May 2018 pulling out of the deal and reimposing crippling sanctions on Iran, Washington argues it is still technically a “participant” and could trigger the so-called “snapback”. This was a mechanism devised by the US negotiating team before the signing of the JCPOA that stipulated that if Iran breached its commitments, all international sanctions could snap back into place.
However, the international community, including the four other permanent Security Council members, insist the US no longer has the legal ability to force through any changes since it announced its exit from what Trump has branded “the worst deal ever” with a presidential memorandum titled Ceasing US Participation in the JCPOA.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addressed the nation directly in a live televised cabinet meeting on Sunday. He congratulated world powers since US pressure to reinstate UN sanctions “has reached its definitive point of failure”.
Today, he said, “will be a memorable day in the history of our country’s diplomacy”.
Rouhani added should the US try to “bully” others into adhering to its declaration of reinstating UN sanctions, Iran will have a “decisive response” to match.
Pointing out how the US tried to garner the support of other nuclear deal signatories following its unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Rouhani said the United States expected Iran to act irrationally, giving it an excuse to form an international coalition against the Islamic Republic.
“Today we can say the ‘maximum pressure’ of US against the Iranian nation, politically and legally, has turned to ‘maximum isolation’ for the US.”
The president also addressed the five remaining signatories of the nuclear deal, reiterating the promise that if they fully adhere to their commitments under the accord, Iran will also fully implement its commitments.
Exactly one year after the US abandoned the nuclear deal, Iran started gradually scaling down its commitments, including those concerning its stockpile of enriched uranium. Iran still continues to grant access to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
In a letter to the Security Council, the European signatories to the deal – Britain, France and Germany, or E3 – stressed UN sanctions relief for Iran would continue, adding any decision or action to reimpose them “would be incapable of legal effect”.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also told the council he would not take any action on the US declaration because “there would appear to be uncertainty whether or not any process … was indeed initiated”.
On Sunday morning, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters the US is experiencing some of its “most bitter” times as it has chosen to stand “on the wrong side of history”.
“The message of Tehran for Washington is clear: Return to the international community. Return to your commitments. Stop this rogue and unruly behaviour. The international community will accept you,” Khatibzadeh said.
Transatlanticrift According to Hamidreza Azizi, a visiting fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), there are clear reasons why the European powers, as well as Russia and China, oppose the US demand.
“First, it would pave the way for further arbitrary interpretation of international treaties by Washington, that may one day come back to haunt the Europeans themselves,” Azizi said
“Second, Iran’s reaction to sanctions return would be to leave the JCPOA or even NPT,” he added, referring to the international nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that pursues nuclear disarmament.
As to why the US would engage in such a move based on shaky legal arguments, Azizi says its goal is political.
“It wants to keep Iran under the international spotlight, continuing to introduce the Islamic Republic as a threat to international peace and security,” he said, adding that the US also wants to make Europeans more cautious in dealing with Iran.
According to Azizi, the snapback showdown is the latest and most evident sign of a rift in transatlantic relations.
“Especially if Trump gets re-elected as the US president, this will work as fuel for further disagreements between the EU and the US,” he said, pointing out that Russia and China could use the opportunity to expand their influence in Iran and the wider region.
Arms embargo The US attempt to trigger the snapback mechanism came on the heels of another demand it made at the Security Council that left it isolated.
In mid-August, the council resoundingly rejected a US bid to extend a global arms embargo on Iran that expires on October 18 under the JCPOA.
Washington only managed to secure the support of the Dominican Republic for its proposed resolution to indefinitely extend the embargo, leaving it far short of the minimum nine “Yes” votes required for adoption. Eleven members abstained while China and Russia opposed the resolution.
Last week, Pompeo reiterated during a briefing with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab that the US will move to reinstate UN sanctions to make the arms embargo permanent.
The US will “do its share as part of its responsibilities to enable peace, this time in the Middle East”, he said.
Zarif fired off a tweet on Thursday, saying “nothing new happens on 9/20”. He also alluded to two recent opinion pieces by John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, who had pointed out that the nuclear deal’s dispute resolution clauses are “complex and potentially lengthy” to avoid UNSC confrontations.
Citing unnamed sources, Reuters news agency reported on Friday that Trump is planning to issue an executive order in the coming days to impose secondary sanctions on anyone who would buy or sell arms to Iran, depriving them of access to the US market.
Rising tensions The culmination of the snapback showdown comes shortly after a fresh round of threatening rhetoric being exchanged between longtime foes, the US and Iran.
On September 13, US-based media outlet Politico published a report, citing unnamed officials, that the Iranian government is weighing an assassination attempt against Lana Marks, the US ambassador to South Africa.
The plot, the report claimed, would be executed in retaliation for Washington’s assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Iraq in early January.
In a tweet, Trump, who is seeking re-election on November 3, said the US will retaliate with “1,000 times greater” force against any Iranian attack on its interests.
In response, Iran cautioned the US against making “a new strategic mistake” by believing false reports and warned of a “decisive response”.
On Saturday, the head of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps issued a stern warning directly addressing Trump, saying the killing of Soleimani will be avenged but Marks is not a proportionate target.
“We will target those who were directly or indirectly involved in the martyrdom of this great man,” Major-General Hossein Salami said.
On Friday, South Africa’s State Security Agency said in a statement there is insufficient evidence to sustain the allegation of a plot to assassinate Marks.
A new UNHCR report warns that many refugee children, especially girls, will not be able to return to school.
The United Nations has warned that the coronavirus pandemic risks deepening a schooling crisis for refugee children, nearly half of whom were already out of school before the emergence of COVID-19.
A new report published on Thursday by the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) cautioned that many refugee children – especially girls – who had attended school before the pandemic would not be able to return.
“After everything they have endured, we cannot rob them of their futures by denying them an education today,” UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said in a statement, calling for action to support refugees’ right to an education.
The report, using data from 12 countries that host more than half of the world’s refugee children, found that more than 1.8 million of them – or a full 48 percent of all refugee children of school age – are out of school.
Attendance is particularly lacklustre in secondary school and higher.
About 77 percent of the refugee children were enrolled in primary school, but only 31 percent attended secondary school and 3 percent were in higher education, according to the report.
While the UNHCR said a shift in methodology made it difficult to compare with data from previous years, it noted the statistics, dire as they look, actually represent a small improvement.
A 2019 report indicated that only 1 percent of refugees worldwide were in higher education. But the pandemic is now threatening to undo even the small advances made, it said.
‘Chilling prediction’ The report found that while children in every country have been hit by the impact of the pandemic and containment measures put in place to rein in the virus, refugee children have been especially disadvantaged.
They are far more likely than others to face difficulty returning to their studies, with many refugee families no longer able to afford school fees, uniforms and books as income sources dry up.
They are also less likely to have access to the technologies needed for remote learning and could be required to work to help keep their struggling families afloat.
This is particularly true for refugee girls, who already had less access to education than boys.
By the time they reach secondary level, refugee girls are half as likely as their male peers to be enrolled in school, according to the UNHCR, which warned the coronavirus crisis risked widening the gender disparities.
Using UNHCR data, the Malala Fund, which works towards removing barriers preventing girls from going to school, estimated that half of all refugee girls who were attending secondary school when the pandemic hit will not return when classrooms reopen this month.
And in countries where less than 10 percent of refugee girls were enrolled in secondary school, all of them were at risk of dropping out for good.
That is “a chilling prediction that would have an impact for generations to come”, the UNHCR said.
Matthew Saltmarsh, a UNHCR spokesman, told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media) from London on Thursday: “We think there are a number of steps that need to be taken. First of all, we think inclusion is the most important thing and a number of countries have included refugees in their national education system.
“More can be done by the international community to provide a medium-term sustainable aid for education, but also for education in emergencies. Private sector and other actors can come in,” he said.