South Korean lawmakers on Wednesday said North Korea has completed preparations for a nuclear test and a possible window for carrying it out could be between Oct. 16 and Nov. 7. South Korean lawmakers who were briefed by its spy agency said preparations for a possible nuclear test by North Korea, which would be the first since 2017, had been completed at the Punggye-ri test tunnel.
Two legislators told reporters after a briefing by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) that the Punggye-ri test tunnel had been a place where the reclusive state conducted six underground tests from 2006 onward.
According to the legislators, the timing of the test could be determined by events like the party congress in China, North Korea’s main ally, and the midterm elections in the United States.
They added that it would also depend on whether Pyongyang can bring an outbreak of COVID-19 under control.
One of the legislators, Youn Kun-young said “the NIS said they cannot calculate the probability but assumed that North Korea would make a comprehensive decision based on international relations and its COVID situation.
” The other lawmaker, Yoo Sang-bum, said the NIS sees North Korea’s earlier claim of an end to COVID-19 as “unreliable” because it has repeatedly locked down and then reopened areas near the Chinese border where “mass vaccinations” are underway.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared victory over COVID-19 and eased some restrictions in August.
However, the country has never confirmed how many people caught the virus, apparently lacking the means to conduct widespread testing.
Earlier, Kim suggested that the isolated country could begin COVID-19 vaccinations in November, warning of a resurgence in outbreaks as levels of immunity formed from previous infections decline around October.
Opposition leader Lee Jae-myung on Wednesday said that his party will hold the Yoon Suk-yeol government responsible for what he calls a diplomatic disaster during the president’s recent overseas trip.
In a speech at the National Assembly, the chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) said Yoon’s trip to Britain and the United States last week revealed the level of diplomacy of his government.
Lee and the DP have portrayed Yoon’s trip to Britain, New York and Canada as a diplomatic fiasco fraught with gaffes and blunders.
This includes his failure to pay respect to the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II before the state funeral and the lack of a tangible outcome from a summit with Japan.
It has also condemned Yoon’s use of foul language caught on a hot mic during a trip to New York. “The DP, as the majority party, will clearly find out who is responsible for the diplomatic disaster,’’ Lee said, vowing to respond strongly to any damage to the national interest and national status.
“There can be no rehearsal in diplomacy likened to a war without gunfire.
However, an excuse of being a beginner cannot be accepted in the harsh diplomatic war,’’ the chairman said in his first parliamentary speech after being elected the DP leader in August.
Meanwhile, Lee also denounced Yoon for failing to discuss urgent pending issues with the U.
S., such as impact from the Inflation Reduction Act and bilateral currency swap, during his New York trip.
Lee then proposed a Constitutional revision to change the nation’s presidential system from the current five-year single term to a four-year, two-term presidency.
On North Korea, the DP leader said that it is a shocking and serious problem if the North intends to use its nuclear weapons not only for defence but also for a preemptive strike.
“As a realistic alternative, we propose conditional sanctions relief (for the North) and step by step simultaneous actions.
“ We don’t support any unilateral policy only for North Korea,’’ Lee said, promising to resolutely demand changes in the North’s wrong practices and attitudes.
Edited by Halima Rabe Mani
The United States held a training workshop in Abuja, Nigeria, from September 19-23, 2022, with partners from Nigerian national security services, law enforcement, and first responders, with the goal of enhancing their ability to investigate terrorist plots involving chemical and biological weapons (CBW).
This is part of a series of trainings the State Department is sponsoring in Africa.
Recent events in the Middle East have demonstrated the very real threat of the acquisition and use of chemical and biological weapons by terrorists on the battlefield or in ungoverned spaces.
These attacks have highlighted the need for countries to have effective national responses, particularly a strong investigative framework and established communication channels between technical experts, law enforcement, and national security stakeholders.
As part of the training in Nigeria, US technical experts provided local officials with guidance and information to establish universally adopted crime scene management protocols to ensure that any evidence collected at a CBW crime scene can be used.
in a court of law and ultimately bring the perpetrator to justice.
To Justice Local officials had the opportunity to navigate a simulated CBW crime scene in full personal protective equipment, practice crime scene documentation and perform proper decontamination procedures.
The engagement between the US and Nigerian experts also involved sharing best practices and lessons learned, resulting in a higher level of preparedness against potential CBW terror plans or attacks.
The United States is committed to working with allies and partners to counter the threat posed by CBW terrorism.
Williams, a trained agricultural specialist, has taken the helm as USAID Madagascar's new mission director.
His appointment follows the US government's designation of Madagascar as a target country for both the global Feed the Future initiative and USAID's new resiliency initiative, which promises significant new investment by the American people to help Madagascar improve its food security and develop its agricultural sector.
At a recent swearing-in ceremony for Williams, US Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power emphasized that Madagascar needs someone who understands the country's political, economic and cultural context; she can earn the trust and respect of those who work for her; and can be decisive, yet collaborative, informed, and curious.
"In all of those respects, Anne is the perfect person to take on this new role."
The US Ambassador to Madagascar and the Comoros, Claire A.
Pierangelo, highlighted USAID's work in the region: “The entire Mission has worked hard on initiatives to increase resilience, improve health outcomes, strengthen management of natural resources, promote sustainable economic development and address climate change.
.” Williams described Madagascar as "a unique and fascinating country" that, however, "faces many daunting challenges stemming from both climate-related impacts and extreme poverty."
USAID, she added, works to implement programs "to help where we can most."
Williams, a career member of the US Senior Foreign Service, joined USAID in 2000.
Previously, she served as Deputy Director of Mission in Mali and held assignments in Senegal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, and Washington, DC For nearly four For decades, the US Government, through USAID, has been Madagascar's most important development partner, working side by side with the Malagasy people as “mpirahalahy mianala” to help the country achieve its development goals.
In 2021, USAID provided Madagascar with $182 million in development assistance, including $72 million to control malaria and improve maternal and child health, family planning, water and sanitation, and nutrition.
The United States also donated $87 million for food security and emergency assistance, $13.5 million to combat COVID-19, and $8.25 million to protect the environment.
WASHINGTON DC, United States of America, February 22, 2016/APO (African Press Organization)/ -- Press Release Mark C.
Toner Deputy Department Spokesperson Washington, DC February 20, 2016 The United States congratulates the people of Uganda for actively and peacefully participating in the February 18 elections.
While the vote took place without major disturbances, we must acknowledge numerous reports of irregularities and official conduct that are deeply inconsistent with international standards and expectations for any democratic process.
Delays in the delivery of voting materials, reports of pre-verified ballots and vote buying, continued blocking of social media sites, and excessive use of force by police collectively undermine the integrity of the electoral process.
The people of Uganda deserved better.
We are also concerned about the continued house arrest of opposition presidential candidate Kizza Besigye.
We call for his immediate release and restoration of access to all social networking sites.
We encourage those who wish to challenge the election results to do so peacefully and in accordance with Ugandan laws and judicial process, and urge the Ugandan government to respect the rights and freedoms of its people and refrain from interfering in those processes.
Iranian riot police and security forces clashed with demonstrators in dozens of cities on Tuesday, state media and social media said, amid continuing protests against the death of young Iranian woman Mahsa Amini in police custody.
Amini, 22, from the Iranian Kurdish city of Saqez, was arrested this month in Tehran for “unsuitable attire” by the morality police who enforce the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code.
Her death has sparked the first big show of opposition on Iran’s streets since authorities crushed protests against a rise in gasoline prices in 2019. Despite a growing death toll and a fierce crackdown by authorities, videos posted on Twitter showed demonstrators calling for the fall of the clerical establishment while clashing with security forces in Tehran, Tabriz, Karaj, Qom, Yazd and many other Iranian cities.
State television said police clashed with what it called “rioters” in some cities and fired tear gas to disperse them.
Videos posted on social media from inside Iran showed protesters chanting, “Woman, Life, Liberty”, while women waved and burnt their veils.
Videos on Twitter showed protesters chanting “Death to the dictator”, a reference to Iran’s top authority Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
In the Kurdish cities of Sanandaj and Sardasht, riot police fired at protesters, videos on Twitter showed.
“I will kill those who killed my sister,” chants of protesters could be heard in one of the videos from Tehran, while activist Twitter account 1500tasvir said: “The streets have become battlefields.
” To make it difficult for protesters to post videos on social media, authorities have restricted internet access in several provinces, according to Internet blockage observatory NetBlocks on Twitter and sources in Iran. On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called on Iran’s clerical rulers to “fully respect the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly and association”.
In a statement, Ravina Shamdasani said that reports indicated “hundreds have also been arrested, including human rights defenders, lawyers, civil society activists and at least 18 journalists”.
“Thousands have joined anti-government demonstrations throughout the country over the past 11 days.
“Security forces have responded at times with live ammunition,” Shamdasani said.
Officials said 41 people, including members of the police and a pro-government militia, had died during the protests.
But Iranian human rights groups have reported a higher toll.
The Iranian human rights group Hengaw said “18 were killed, 898 people were injured and over 1,000 Kurdish protesters have been arrested in the last ten days”, estimating the figures to be higher.
“Between Monday and Friday, more than 70 women have been arrested in Iran’s Kurdistan … at least four of them are under age 18,” Hengaw said on Tuesday.
Iran’s judiciary has set up special courts to try “rioters”, according to state media.
Social media posts, along with some activists, have called for a nationwide strike.
Several university teachers, celebrities, and prominent soccer players have supported the protests against Amini’s death, according to statements published by them on social media.
Students in several universities have refused to participate in classes, staging protests against the widespread arrest of students and forceful encounters with security forces in universities.
The videos and statements on social media could not be verified by Reuters.
Amini’s death has drawn widespread international condemnation while Iran has blamed “thugs” linked to “foreign enemies” for stirring up unrest.
Tehran has accused the United States and some European countries of using the unrest to try to destabilise the Islamic Republic.
More than half a million Malagasy people in the cities of Antananarivo, Mahajanga and Toliara now have access to clean water thanks to a public-private partnership between the US government, through the US Agency for Development International (USAID), the Coca Cola Foundation, and other partners.
Through the $8.5 million Alliance for Water and Development (AMA), the association has, since 2017, built 350 water distribution points; promoted good hygiene practices; and improved the operations of Madagascar's national water company, JIRAMA, including reducing water loss and improving its water quality management.
“The WADA project has been a successful collaboration with leading companies and foundations, the Malagasy government, JIRAMA, water and sanitation experts from the non-profit sector, and most importantly, the communities themselves to create solutions to the problem of access.
to clean water.
in Madagascar,” USAID Mission Director Anne N.
Williams said at the project's closing ceremony.
Created in line with the Government of Madagascar's priority to improve water and sanitation throughout the country, the AMA was implemented by Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor, a UK-based NGO, in partnership with Global Environment and Technology Foundation and JIRAMA.
It was co-financed by USAID and the Coca Cola Foundation.
According to the World Bank, 12 percent of Antananarivo's 3.2 million inhabitants lack access to basic water services, while in Mahajanga and Tulear, 11 percent and 16 percent, respectively, lack these.
WADA worked in these three key cities and 19 surrounding communes where a significant need for access to clean water and sanitation services was identified.
The project also supported improvements to six JIRAMA laboratories for testing water quality.
While AMA activity is winding down, USAID's commitment to improving water and sanitation in Madagascar has not, having provided about $46 million in assistance to WASH since 2017, and they are planned to start major new WASH activities in rural and urban areas next year.
The United States stands with Madagascar as the mpirahalahy mianala to help improve the health and well-being of the Malagasy people.
Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, Director-General of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), said productivity data obtained from farmers’ fields was key to the revival of the moribund textile industry in Nigeria.
Mustapha said this at a one-day Biotech(Bt) cotton stakeholders’ training workshop on Monday in Abuja.
According to the D-G, the stage was now set for self-sufficiency in the production of cotton as an industrial raw material capable of boosting the transformation of the textile industry.
He said: “Nigerian farmers who would be involved in Bt. cotton business would be empowered to enjoy increased productivity.
“We cannot overemphasize the irreplaceable role Bt. cotton plays in reviving Nigeria’s economy.
“It can produce 4.1 to 4.4 tonnes per hectare, compared to the local variety, which yields just 600 to 900 kilogrammes per hectare.
“Since Bt. cotton can resist the devastating bollworm and tolerate sucking insects, it will help farmers reduce their use of pesticides.
“This also helps to minimise environmental impacts and lowering production costs.
” Mustapha, who was represented by Dr Nasiru Ibrahim, Director of Agricultural Biotechnology department, assured that these varieties were suitable for cultivation in all Nigeria’s cotton growing zones.
He said,” in addition to the pest-resistant traits, they offer early maturity, fiber length of 30.0 to 30.5 millimeters and fiber strength of 26.5 to 27.0 in tenacity and strength of 3.9 to 4.1. ” Bt. cotton varieties would save farmers the trouble of contending with the local conventional variety, which was no longer accepted at the international markets.
” Mustapha said that recent initiatives to improve the contribution of the agricultural sector to economic growth in Nigeria had emphasised the importance of cotton production in stimulating the economy.
“Bt. cotton, therefore, raises hope for textile industry’s revival as the commercialization has started a revolution that will help Nigeria in curbing cotton shortage.
“In the last 3 to 4 decades, biotechnology worldwide had shifted from being seen as a strategic emerging industry to one of the mainstays of most advanced nations’ strategic industries,’’ Mustapha said.
Dr Rose Gidado, Deputy Director at the agency and the Country Coordinator, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), said that the workshop brought together key cotton stakeholders and farmers.
Gidado said that the workshop would also provide education to counter misinformation and increase understanding of crop varieties using biotechnology, among others.
She stated that investments in awareness creation on agricultural biotechnology issues would deliver multiple positive responses.
“There is the need to unbundle the application of this technology for national growth to secure popular support from the masses,’’ Gidado urged.
Dr Gerald Smith, Counselor for Agricultural Affairs at the United States Department for Agriculture(USDA), said that in spite of large cotton planting areas, Nigeria still lagged behind other cotton cultivating countries in terms of production.
“I believe the use of Bt. cotton can help foster increased yields and productivity.
“Over several years, farm trials in Asia showed that Bt. cotton yielded about 60 per cent more than conventional varieties,’’ Smith said.
Mr Anibe Achimugu, President of National Cotton Association of Nigeria(NACOTAN), said, “cotton is an industry on its own and it could be Nigeria’s major foreign exchange earner.
” Achimugu was represented by Mr Ado Sule, Director of Administration in NACOTAN.
Dr Rufus Ebegba, Director-General of National Biotechnology Management Agency(NBMA) urged, “Nigerians should trust the government about safety of genetically modified crops.
” The workshop had as theme: “Grassroot Engagement for Sustainable Commercialisation of Bt. cotton.
” It was organised by NABDA, in collaboration with NACOTAN and USDA, among other critical stakeholders.
Under this year's theme, "Pharmacies United in Action for a Healthier World," the US Government (USG) joined the Cameroon National Order of Pharmacists to celebrate World Pharmacist Day at a conference in Douala on September 23 with the participation of officials from Cameroon.
Ministry of Public Health.
The US Government is committed to strengthening the public-private partnership and supports the Department's efforts to continue decentralizing the dispensing of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs for HIV/AIDS to include private pharmacies.
The ai representative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Allan Reed, stated: “With the financial support of the Government of the United States, the Department of Public Health, in collaboration with its technical and financial partners, including the National Order of Pharmacists of Cameroon, developed and validated guidelines on the dispensing of ARVs in private pharmacies; operational tools for demand creation, enrollment, health information management; and the monitoring and evaluation of this differentiated care model.
Training of trainers has already been carried out and 40 pharmacists and pharmacy staff in the cities of Yaoundé and Douala have been trained.
The actual dispensing of ARVs through private pharmacies is scheduled to begin on October 1, 2022.” The US government, through USAID, works in partnership with the Department of Public Health to deliver HIV/AIDS and malaria commodities to health facilities without delay.
USAID has helped train 100 pharmacists and assistants from the North and Far North regions in inventory management.
As a result, decentralized distribution will improve access to HIV/AIDS care by reducing client waiting times at health facilities and increasing health outcomes.
It will also align and complement existing community distribution models.
In 2022, USAID invested up to $15 million (FCFA 7 billion) for the acquisition of pharmaceutical products and supply chain systems.
This investment helped strengthen supply chain capacity in around 800 health facilities in Cameroon.
USAID also worked to improve ordering practices for health products through the training of pharmacists and staff of some pharmacies in more than 300 health establishments throughout the national territory.
The training included the online ordering process for HIV/AIDS commodities.
The US government welcomes Cameroon's ratification of the treaty establishing the African Medicines Agency and encourages the creation of a Cameroon Medicines Agency.
USAID provides technical support for the development and validation of the draft decree establishing this agency, which is an important priority for the Cameroonian Ministry of Public Health and the National Order of Pharmacists.
USAID also helps strengthen Cameroon's health supply chain and supports the Ministry of Public Health in revising pharmaceutical legislation.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is set to partner with the Cross River Health Insurance Agency (CRSHIA) in the fight against malaria.
In a meeting with CRSHIA in Calabar, Dr Veronica Momoh, USAID’s Malaria Management Specialist in Nigeria, said they wanted to know the readiness of the scheme for a possible collaboration to end malaria in the state.
Momoh said that through the contribution of the United States’ President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), they had been able to support Nigeria’s National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP) to ensure a malaria-free Nigeria.
She said that PMI’s goal was to reduce severe Malaria and its attendant complications and also reduce complications associated with malaria.
“PMI aims to reduce all causes of under-five and maternal mortality by delivering quality services for the management of malaria and its complications.
“It also aims to prevent malaria during pregnancy which puts the life of mother and child at risk by providing drugs, insecticide treated nets and other commodities,” she said.
The Director-General (D-G) of CRSHIA, Mr Godwin Iyala, in his response told the team that the state health insurance scheme had a robust package that covered malaria in entirety because of its prevalence in tropical Africa.
Iyala said that the scheme’s 100 per cent malaria coverage was its own contribution and effort at ensuring that malaria was eliminated.
“In line with best practices, we plan to deliver quality, affordable and accessible healthcare services that will eliminate catastrophic consequences and out-of-pocket expenditures for healthcare.
“We have tried to ensure that the 196 primary healthcare facilities across the state’s 18 local government areas and all the general hospitals are accessible for primary or secondary care as the case may be.
“Also just recently, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed with the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) for tertiary referrals when the need arises,” he said.
He thanked USAID for the partnership, adding that their names would remain in the history books for assisting to enthrone universal health coverage in Cross River.