1. Macau Says $20 Million Transferred for North Korea
Tom Kohn and Ying Lou, Bloomberg
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Macau said more than $20 million in North Korean funds was transferred from a bank in the Chinese territory, ending a dispute that has delayed a start to Kim Jong Il's government dismantling its nuclear program.
``The affairs had come to an end for Macau,'' Francis Tam Pak Yuen, Macau's secretary of economy and finance, said in a statement on the government's Web site today. Tam said he couldn't disclose where the money was sent, citing bank confidentiality.
The money was frozen by authorities in Macau after the U.S. Treasury blacklisted Banco Delta Asia SARL in September 2005 and accused it of laundering money for North Korea. The U.S. agreed to free the funds to get a nuclear agreement reached with North Korea implemented.
The government in Pyongyang signed an accord with the U.S., China, Russia, South Korea, and Japan on Feb. 13 to close the Yongbyon plutonium reactor in return for energy assistance. It missed an April 14 deadline to shut the plant and refused to do so until it can access $25 million held at the Macau bank through the international banking network.
Russia announced yesterday that it is prepared to allow its banks to transfer the frozen North Korean funds. Dalnevostochniy Bank in the Russian Far East, which shares a 19-kilometer (12- mile) border with North Korea, will probably help transfer the Macau funds, Moscow-based Ekho Moskvy radio station said today.
Valeria Faterina, a spokeswoman for Dalnevostochniy, said by phone from Vladivostok that the bank had no immediate comment on the report.
The U.S. agreed to free the funds to get the nuclear agreement implemented, although banks have been wary to receive the money in case they too are blacklisted.
``We are looking forward to the BDA issue finally being resolved,'' State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters in Washington yesterday, adding that the U.S. is working with a ``Russian bank on the matter.''
Under the February accord, North Korea will receive 50,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil once it closes the reactor and economic assistance equivalent to another 950,000 tons if it fully disables its nuclear program.
A resolution to transfer the North Korean funds frozen in Macau was in the ``final phase,'' South Korea's Foreign Minister Song Min Soon said yesterday.
The chief U.S. negotiator in the six nation talks said he expects progress on the issue ``very soon'' and plans discussions with Japan, South Korea and China next week.
Christopher Hill, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific, said late yesterday the U.S., Russia and other nations had worked very hard on resolving the Banco Delta Asia dispute.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said today the country had ``notice'' of the effort between the six parties to the talks to resolve the Banco Delta Asia issue. ``We sincerely hope that these efforts will lead to a resolution and will lead to a resumption of the six-party talks,'' ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a regular briefing in Beijing.
The ministry hadn't been notified of a visit by Hill to Beijing, ``but we do look forward to working with him and other members of the six party talks, and to resume the talks as soon as possible,'' Qin said.
1. Convention Against Nuclear Terrorism Enters into force July 7
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An international convention banning acts of nuclear terrorism will enter into force next month after it is expected to be ratified by 22 of the 115 countries that have signed it, said the UN.
The International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism is designed to prevent and suppress nuclear terrorism, bring to justice planners and perpetrators and promote cooperation among signatories in the sharing of information and providing assistance.
It calls also for the extradition of alleged terrorists and cooperation in criminal investigations.
On July 7, Bangladesh is expected to be the 22nd signer to have ratified the convention, the UN said Friday.
Other countries that have ratified are Austria, Belarus, Comoros, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Hungary, India, Kenya, Latvia, Lebanon, Mexico, Mongolia, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain and Macedonia, a former Yugoslav republic.
A total of 13 conventions have been adopted by the UN General Assembly to fight global terrorism.
The convention banning nuclear terrorism was adopted in 2005 under a Russian initiative following threats that terrorists around the world could use nuclear weapons and materials, which could be obtained on the black market.
The assembly has adopted conventions against hijackings, kidnappings, bombings and financing of terrorism.
UN legal counsel Nicholas Michel said the convention against nuclear terrorism, once enforced, will strengthen other anti-terrorist conventions.
'It will strengthen the international anti-terrorism legal framework by being a valuable addition to already existing universal counter-terrorism norms and obligations,' Michel said.
Libya has withdrawn from its commitment to destroy the nation's weapons of mass destruction program.
Officials said Libya has dropped plans to destroy its mustard gas stocks. They said the project, stipulated in a 2003 agreement, would not be conducted after Libyan complaints that the effort was too expensive.
Libya was believed to possess at least 23 metric tons of mustard gas. Tripoli was also said to have 1,300 tons of precursor chemicals.
So far, Libya has authorized the removal of more than 1,000 tons of nuclear and missile equipment and destroyed 3,500 chemical-weapons capable munitions. Officials said the remaining chemical agents were scheduled to be destroyed in 2007, Middle East Newsline reported.
Officials said the Libyan decision has been relayed to the United States, which pressed Tripoli to destroy its WMD stocks and medium-range missiles. They said the regime of Col. Moammar Khaddafy has been demonstrating greater hostility since Washington restored full diplomatic relations in 2006.
"There is a danger that Libya was consistently withdrawing from its commitments," an official said.
In December 2006, Libya and the United States signed a contract to cooperate in the destruction of Libya's CW stockpile. Under the accord, the United States would pay $45 million, or about 75 percent of the destruction costs, and Tripoli would provide the rest. But in May Libya relayed a letter to the State Department that refused to contribute anything to the CW destruction effort. The letter also raised liability issues associated with the project.
The chemical agents were said to have been stored in a remote desert location more than 500 kilometers from Tripoli. Officials said the mustard gas stocks have not comprised a proliferation hazard.
"The Libyans are looking for a bunch of things from the United States, including the lifting of a ban on weapons sales," the official said. "I imagine this is a pressure tactic."
Iran threatened Thursday to further reduce cooperation with the UN atomic agency if new sanctions are ordered and insisted its uranium enrichment programme had gone too far to turn back.
For "each action there is a reaction, prompt reaction by Iran and that will continue"," Iran's ambassador to the
International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told reporters at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation board of governors.
The UN Security Council has imposed two sets of sanctions since December in a bid to get Iran to halt uranium enrichment -- which can make fuel for reactors or for a bomb -- and to cooperate with an IAEA investigation over concerns Iran seeks nuclear weapons.
IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei reported Wednesday that the agency's ability to monitor Iran's nuclear work is "deteriorating" due to the reduced Iranian cooperation.
ElBaradei also told the board that Iran is still expanding uranium enrichment work, in defiance of the Security Council.
The IAEA board wrapped up its debate Thursday after both the United States and Europe warned that new UN sanctions against Iran loomed.
US ambassador Gregory Schulte told reporters: "We want negotiations. We want negotiations that get us to a diplomatic settlement."
"But for Iran to enter those negotiations, it needs to listen to the board of governors. It needs to listen to the Security Council and it needs to suspend those activities causing such international concern," Schulte said.
Iran refuses to suspend enrichment, saying it has the right to a peaceful nuclear programme under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The Islamic state has reacted to sanctions already imposed by stopping voluntary cooperation with IAEA inspectors.
This had included visits to sites that are not strictly nuclear, such as the Parchin military facility where conventional explosives are tested and where there was concern nuclear explosions were being simulated for weapons testing.
Iran is now only allowing inspections obligated under safeguards clauses attached to the NPT and which authorize verifying that nuclear material is not being diverted to military uses.
But Soltanieh said Iran's patience was wearing thin, as it is threatened with new sanctions.
Asked it this meant reducing safeguards cooperation, the last basis on which IAEA inspectors have access to Iran, Soltanieh said: "Read between the lines, I said. I said the options are exhuasted."
Soltanieh said Iran has mastered uranium enrichment and it is now too late for it even to consider suspending this sensitive technology.
"The suspension which has no technical and legal ground, now has lost its political merit as well. There is no way that suspension can be justified," Soltanish said.
"The fact of the matter, confirmed by the IAEA is now we are the master of technology."
He said: "Therefore let's be pragmatic, sit down together and Iran is fully prepared to ensure non-diversion of enrichment activities to prohibited purposes."
Schulte, who says Iran has not fully mastered enrichment, said: "The Iranian ambassador spins faster than any centrifuge."
Tehran denies US accusations that it wants nuclear weapons.
Washington says it wants a diplomatic solution to the standoff but has not ruled out military action.
Iran had, as of May 13, over 1,300 centrifuges enriching uranium at the underground facility in Natanz, according to ElBaradei.
It could start industrial scale production with 3,000 centrifuges running by the end of June, a senior official close to the IAEA said.
That number could make enough enriched uranium for a bomb in less than a year, experts say.
ElBaradei also estimates that Iran could have 8,000 centrifuges running by December, diplomats said.
1. Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism: Joint Statement
Department of State
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Following is the Joint Statement issued by U.S. Assistant Secretary John C. Rood and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak, Chairmen of the third meeting of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, upon the conclusion of the June 11-12 meeting hosted by the Government of Kazakhstan: Partners in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism met in Astana, Kazakhstan on June 11-12, 2007. The participants expressed their appreciation to the Government of Kazakhstan for hosting this important meeting and its excellent nonproliferation and counterterrorism record. The Astana meeting was the third meeting of the Global Initiative, consolidating and building on the foundations constructed during previous meetings.
Global Initiative partners first met in Rabat, Morocco, on October 30-31, 2006, to establish a Statement of Principles to combat nuclear terrorism. We gathered in Ankara, Turkey, on February 12-13, 2007, to reaffirm our commitment and further develop a full stale of activities to build the capabilities of participating nations and to take advantage of synergies created through multilateral cooperation. To date, fifty-one partner nations have endorsed the Statement of Principles and are participants in the Global Initiative.
Representatives from thirty-eight nations attended the meeting in Kazakhstan, as well as observers from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the European Union. Outreach.
We are pleased by the large increase in participation in the Global Initiative at this meeting. The expanded participation demonstrates the strong desire of the international community to combat nuclear terrorism and the readiness to strengthen our capacity to prevent the acquisition of nuclear materials and know-how by terrorists. A Strong Work Program.
As a demonstration of the active nature of the Global Initiative, partners linked up with the Conference sponsored by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on International Nuclear Terrorism Law Enforcement in Miami, Florida, USA. The Conference, conducted under the Global Initiative, brought together more than 500 participants from over twenty countries, including the Director of the FBI and the Deputy Director of the Federal Security Service in the Russian Federation.
In addition, partners continued to develop a plan of work for 2007-2008. The plan of work includes activities to support each of the Global Initiative principles, with an emphasis on strengthening our key priorities to include:
- preventing the availability of nuclear material to terrorists; - improving the capabilities of participating nations to detect, search for, and prevent trafficking in such materials; - promoting information sharing and law enforcement cooperation; - establishing appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks; - minimizing the use of highly enriched uranium and plutonium in civilian facilities and activities; - denying safe haven and financial resources to terrorists; and - strengthening our response capabilities to minimize the impact of any nuclear terrorism attack.
We note the success of Japan and Australia in completing the first two capacity-building activities in the Global Initiative since the second meeting in Ankara, Turkey. In addition to the already-planned activities, we agreed at this meeting to include capacity-building activities that will be hosted by Kazakhstan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
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