North Korea has been sending Syria equipment that could be used for the manufacture of chemical weapons, a UN report has said.
The reclusive state sent more than 40 unreported shipments to Syria between 2012 and 2017, according to a panel of experts.
They found evidence of “the transfer to Syria of special resistance valves and thermometers known for use in chemical weapons programmes” in August 2016.
They also discovered that a North Korean front company, called Corst, shipped banned goods to a researcher at Syria’s Scientific Studies Research Council, which the US says is the government agency responsible for making non-conventional weapons and the means to deliver them.
One UN member state told the panel it had intelligence that North Korean technicians “continue to operate at chemical weapons and missile facilities at Barzeh, Adra and Hama”.
It comes just days after news of a chemical attack by the Syrian government against the rebel-held enclave of eastern Ghouta, during a 30-day UN-declared ceasefire.
Syria told the panel: “There are no DPRK technical companies in Syria and the only presence of some DPRK individuals are confined in the field of sports under private individual contracts for training athletics and gymnastics.”
It additionally claimed on Wednesday it had no chemical weapons arsenals but “terrorist groups” in the country including al-Nusra and Daesh had obtained some stocks.
US disarmament ambassador Robert Wood, however, said: “Clearly there has been a history of a relationship between North Korea and Syria with regard to missile activity.”
The UN panel also found evidence of trade in other banned goods and components that could be used in the manufacture of conventional weapons and military equipment.
This included 13 shipping containers filled with “acid resistant tiles” which could “be used for activities conducted at high temperatures” or “can be used to build bricks for the interior walls of (a) chemical factory”.
The report detailed visits by North Korean delegations and experts, and cooperation with the regime at missile facilities.
It shed light on North Korea’s broader network of illicit trading, which in nine months last year may have earned it nearly $200m (£144m) in oil, gas and weapons deals in violation of UN sanctions.
It also detailed evidence that the state had shipped conventional weapons including rocket launchers, ballistic missile systems and surface-to-air missiles to Myanmar.
Among those the panel looked at, was the activities of Ryu Jin, a senior official who is on the UN sanctions blacklist.
It said he works in Syria for the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation, known as KOMID, North Korea’s primary arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons.
In a letter to Syrian Major General Ali Salim of the Army Supply Bureau, the panel say Ryu makes an official proposal for “an air defence command and control system”.
The allegations show a well-established and illegal trade relationship, the report said, facilitated by shell companies and sympathetic individuals and allowing the isolated states to amass weapons and earn fortunes in violation of international sanctions.
Although experts said the report didn’t prove ongoing chemical weapons collaboration, it was hailed as an “important breakthrough” by former panel member William Newcomb, the New York Times reported.
Afghanistan: Youngsters protest online against order telling girls not to go to school | World News
Afghan girls and boys have joined a social media protest against a decision by the Taliban to prevent young females going to school.
Putting their own safety at risk, many have created makeshift banners to make their points, opposing an edict by the Taliban government that female middle and high school students should not return to school for the time being, while boys of the same age can resume their studies this weekend.
It comes as the interim mayor of Kabul is telling female city authority employees to stay home, with only those whose jobs cannot be done by men allowed to work.
The moves are further evidence the Taliban, which overran Kabul last month, is enforcing its harsh interpretation of Islam despite initial promises that it would be tolerant and inclusive.
Among the slogans on the banners displayed by the youngsters are statements like: “What is our crime that we are prevented from education?” and “I won’t go to school without my sister. I support my sister. We are equal.”
Sky News has blurred the faces of some of those protesting, as there are fears they could be at risk in a country that appears to be clamping down on the right of expression.
On Sunday, just over a dozen women staged a protest outside the new ministry, holding up placards calling for the right of women to participate in public life.
The protest lasted for about 10 minutes before a short verbal confrontation occurred with a man and the women got into cars and left, as members of the Taliban watched from nearby cars.
Kabul’s new interim mayor, Hamdullah Namony, told his first news conference that, pending a further decision, most of the 1,000 or so female city authority employees would be required to stay home.
He said exceptions would only be made for women who could not be replaced by men, including some in the design and engineering departments and the attendants of public toilets for women.
Mr Namony added: “There are some areas that men can’t do it, we have to ask our female staff to fulfil their duties, there is no alternative for it.”
During its previous rule between the mid 1990s and 2001, the Taliban had forbidden girls and women from schools, jobs and public life.
In recent days, Taliban officials told female university students that classes would take place in gender-segregated settings, and they must abide by a strict Islamic dress code.
Under the previous US-backed administration, before it was deposed by the Taliban in August, men and women had sat alongside each other in universities, for the most part.
On Friday, the Taliban shut down the ministry for women’s affairs, replacing it with a government department responsible for the “propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice”, with the job of enforcing Islamic law.
Amid deteriorating conditions for ordinary Afghans, many of whom previously relied on international aid, witnesses said an explosion targeted a Taliban vehicle in the provincial city of Jalalabad, the second such deadly blast in as many days in an area where Islamic State militants are said to dominate.
The Taliban and IS extremists are enemies and battled each other before the Taliban took control of Afghanistan last month.
Initial reports said five people were killed, with a child among the two civilians said to have died. The Taliban were not immediately available for comment.
Boris Johnson tells world leaders he is growing ‘increasingly frustrated’ at their efforts to tackle climate change | Politics News
Boris Johnson has criticised other world leaders over their efforts to tackle climate change, telling them he is growing “increasingly frustrated” that their commitments are “nowhere near enough”.
Speaking during a meeting at the United Nations in New York, the prime minister said the gap between what has been promised by industrialised nations and what they have so far delivered remains “vast”.
Co-hosting a discussion on the issue at the UN General Assembly, Mr Johnson urged fellow leaders to renew their efforts to meet a key financing pledge to help developing nations.
The PM wants to get countries to commit to giving $100bn (£73bn) a year in support to developing nations to cut their carbon emissions and shield themselves against climate change.
But he earlier told reporters there was only a “six out of 10” chance of this target being met before the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November – which he then said will be “a turning point for the world” and “the moment when we have to grow up and take our responsibilities”.
He told Sky News’ political editor Beth Rigby: “We have been here before, we have all heard lots of positive noises, let’s see where we get to.
“We are not counting our chickens.”
However, Joe Biden’s climate envoy sounded upbeat when questioned by Sky News.
“I think we’re going to get it done by COP and the US will do its part,” John Kerry said.
Asked if the US president will announce more money this week, he replied: “I’m not hoping… I’m telling you to stay tuned into the president’s speech and we’ll see where we are.”
Chairing the climate discussion on Monday, Mr Johnson noted that “everyone nods and we all agree that something must be done”.
“Yet I confess I’m increasingly frustrated that the ‘something’ to which many of you have committed is nowhere near enough,” he continued.
“It is the biggest economies in the world that are causing the problem, while the smallest suffer the worst consequences.
“And while progress is being made all over the world, the gulf between what has been promised, what is actually being delivered, and what needs to happen… it remains vast.
“Too many major economies – some represented here today, some absent – are lagging too far behind.”
And the PM warned countries there would be consequences if the financing target is not met, saying: “If you say that the lives of their children are not worth the hassle of reducing domestic coal consumption, will they vote with you in fora such as this?
“Will they work with you, borrow from you, stand with you if you tell the world that you don’t care whether their land and their people slip below the waves?
“To be merely a bystander is to be complicit in their fate – yet that is exactly what you will be if you fail to act this year.”
Ahead of the UN meeting, Downing Street said developed countries had “collectively failed” to meet the target.
Figures released last week by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development showed that $79.6bn was mobilised in 2019, more than $20bn off the target.
Watch the Daily Climate Show at 6.30pm Monday to Friday on Sky News, the Sky News website and app, on YouTube and Twitter.
The show investigates how global warming is changing our landscape and highlights solutions to the crisis.
Serbians block roads in Kosovo in protest over license plate restrictions | World News
Protesters have blocked roads in northern Kosovo after authorities stopped cars with Serbian plates from entering the country.
Serbia, which lost control of Kosovo in 1999, does not recognise Kosovo and has stopped cars with Kosovo license plates from entering the country.
Almost 50,000 Serbs who live in the north of Kosovo and share a border with Serbia, refuse to recognise Pristina’s authorities and as restrictions came into force on Monday, cars and trucks blocked roads in protest.
Police in Kosovo deployed riot gear and armoured vehicles as the blockades built up and Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, said the move was not taken to harm drivers but was a retaliation measure against Belgrade.
“Today there is nothing illegal or discriminatory,” Mr Kurti said in parliament.
“Just as yesterday, today and tomorrow, Serb citizens will move freely and safely.”
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said the situation is very “serious and difficult”.
“When you are dealing with people who are not responsible, it is difficult to find a solution,” Mr Vucic said.
The two countries began talks in 2013, mediated by the European Union, to resolve the issues, but little progress has been made.
Kosovo is recognised by around 110 countries, including the United States, Britain and most western countries, but Russia, Serbia’s traditional ally, does not recognise it.
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