Despite travel and information connectivity that is a hallmark of the modern world, and the world emerging as a global village, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) remains a secret that has worried the West for the past few decades.
North Korea's Supreme Leader's overtures to find a diplomatic solution to the country's contentious relations with the West had raised some hopes in the political circles in the past few years. But, North Koreas' track record does not bode well for finding easy and swift answers.
The divided Koreas are the fallout of the Second World War, and its continued separate status is the result of the Cold War. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea officially remains at war with its neighbor, South Korea.
The active war status is less of a global concern than the country's continued pursuit of nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction, which has kept the dictatorship at the forefront of international news.
Many Americans, well aware of the country's weaponization, consider North Korea a long-term threat.
The TIPP Poll asked: Please indicate whether the country poses an immediate threat to the United States (within the next six months), a long-term threat to the United States (over six months), or does not pose a threat to the United States at all.
Overall, this is how Americans reacted.
- 69% believe the DPRK is a threat
- 12% - the DPRK is not a threat
- 19% - Undecided
Across partisan divisions and political ideologies, the country's consensus is that North Korea should be viewed as a threat to America. Of those who feel the country is a threat to the U.S., the immediacy of perceived danger is:
- 40% - long-term threat (over six months)
- 29% - short-term threat (within six months)
The country that lies across the North Pacific from the U.S., beyond Japan, has achieved the capability to threaten world peace. Beyond arms accumulation, North Korea’s association with certain other countries must also be factored in when assessing the risk the country poses.
North Korea left the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty in 2003, stating "U.S. aggression" as a reason. Subsequently, it carried out its first nuclear tests in 2006. The country maintains that its nuclear pursuit is “the sole means to guarantee its survival.” To back up its claims of threat, the DPKR regime points to American military bases in the region, U.S. support of South Korea, and the numerous military exercises that the U.S. conducts with its allies in the Pacific region.
Since leaving the NNT, Pyongyang has amassed an impressive array of weapons of various capabilities. Analysts estimate that the country could have more than sixty nuclear weapons. In a worrisome move, North Korea successfully tested missiles that could strike the United States with a nuclear warhead. Military and defense experts and watchers believe that the regime possesses chemical and biological weapons.
The DPRK belligerently pursues a nuclear agenda and has remained undeterred despite severe sanctions. The crippling penalties have induced the country to turn to some sleazy practices to generate revenue.
Worse than the insistent pursuit of a nuclear program are possibly North Korea’s dealings with other unstable regimes worldwide, especially in the Middle East. Its nuclear capabilities and ballistic missile technology are money-makers in the international weapons market.
The country is thought to have sold missile technology and weapons of mass destruction to governments in the Middle East. Pyongyang is known to have illicit trade with Egypt, Iran, Libya, Myanmar, Syria, Vietnam, and Yemen. Such dealings are indeed a cause of great concern and imperil peace and stability, especially in the Middle East.
A desperate North Korea, cash-strapped and reeling under sanctions, has resorted to billion-dollar heists against banks and cryptocurrency exchanges over the past decade. Plans for a one billion dollar raid on Bangladesh's national bank were foiled just in time, but the country's hackers have successfully carried out many other such heists.
Analysts believe the crypto bounty is being used to further the nuclear program and prop up the flailing economy. According to a Department of Justice alert, North Korean hackers targeted companies in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, India, China, Russia, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea.
Overtly and covertly supported and assisted by its communist neighbor to the north, China, the Kim-dynasty-ruled state is pursuing an agenda that could be detrimental to world peace.
The pandemic has further undermined the country’s economy. North Korea is said to be bracing for extreme food shortages in the coming months. But, as President Kim’s actions suggest, sanctions may not deter the regime from engaging in cyber-attacks or augmenting its nuclear stockpile. World leaders must invariably find other incentives desirable to Pyongyang to establish peace in the long run.
Chinese pro-democracy students in Australia fear punishment for their families back home if they speak out on sensitive issues, a new report says.
Human Rights Watch found such students feel surveilled in Australia, leading many to self-censor in classrooms.
Academics teaching China courses in the country say they have also felt pressure to censor themselves.
Human Rights Watch said it had interviewed nearly 50 students and academics in Australia and found an "atmosphere of fear" that had worsened in recent years.
In one case, Chinese authorities also threatened a student with jail after he opened a Twitter account in Australia and posted pro-democracy messages.
Tutors and lecturers have also reported facing increased pressure, the report says. HRW interviewed 22 academics at Australian universities who teach China studies or to Chinese students. More than half of those interviewed practiced regular self-censorship when talking about China.
Indonesia received the 17th batch of 10 million bulk vaccines from Sinovac, China, on Sunday.
It brings the total number of vaccines to 104.7 million, 91.5 million of which were bulk vaccines.
Oscar Primadi, Secretary-General of the Health Ministry, stated that the vaccine arrivals were arranged through various schemes, including bilateral, multilateral, and domestic product explorations.
Oscar said that the WHO had approved the use of these three vaccines and thus met international requirements for safety, product quality, and efficacy.
He stated that the government would continue to expand vaccination drives to get more people vaccinated.
"We need 181.5 million of our residents to be vaccinated to materialize herd immunity. Vaccines play a pivotal role," he said in a press release.
Ethiopia's military reportedly broke into a UNICEF office in Tigray capital of Mekele -- confiscating satellite equipment described as much-needed to carry out humanitarian work.
Victor Chinyama, UNICEF's Ethiopia Chief of Communications, described the current state of affairs on the ground. "Members of the Ethiopian military entered our office premises in Mekele, where we've had an office since before the conflict began, and confiscated our satellite equipment, which we have yet to recover."
UNICEF, the UN, and the WHO have confirmed that their staff are safe and warned of phone lines being down and a lack of electricity -- making it difficult for the bodies to execute their humanitarian efforts in Tigray.
Eritrean soldiers, accused by witnesses of some of the war's worst atrocities, left the towns of Shire, Axum, and Adwa. Still, it was not immediately clear whether they had left other communities.
The Myanmar Embassy has threatened Myanmar students in New Zealand with "punishment" if they don't declare their loyalty to the country's new military rulers.
A small group of Myanmar citizens in New Zealand have received a letter from the embassy in Canberra demanding they confirm they have not participated in the civil disobedience movement against the military junta that took control of the country in a February coup.
A student in New Zealand, who spoke to Stuff on the condition of anonymity, says the threat has made her fearful for both herself and her family back in Myanmar as she has publicly protested against the military junta in New Zealand.
The two-page letter, which Stuff has seen, demands students confirm by July 7 that they have not been involved in the protest movement or had contact with anyone who has participated in the movement. It says they are prohibited from posting on social media about the military coup.
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