Will Kim Jong-Un Trade His Nuclear Arsenal to Rebuild Economy?

SEOUL, South Korea — For as long as Kim Jong-un has been North Korea’s leader, he has called for the simultaneous pursuit of nuclear weapons and economic growth with the aim of making the nation a “great socialist nuclear power.”

On Saturday, however, Mr. Kim abruptly announced he was retiring his signature policy, known as byungjin, or “parallel advance.”

The strategy has been at the center of his government’s propaganda and is enshrined in the charter of the governing Workers’ Party. But Mr. Kim said it was now time to adopt a “new strategic line” and focus the nation’s resources on rebuilding its economy.

As for nuclear weapons, he essentially declared that mission accomplished, saying North Korea no longer needed to test long-range missiles or atomic bombs and would close its only known nuclear test site. The byungjin policy, he said, already had achieved a “great victory” — an arsenal capable of deterring the nation’s enemies.

Mr. Kim’s pivot away from nuclear testing and toward the economy came just days before a scheduled meeting with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and weeks before his planned summit meeting with President Trump.


As Economy Grows, North Korea’s Grip on Society Is Tested APRIL 30, 2017
Despite lingering doubts about his nation’s ability to strike the continental United States with a nuclear weapon, Mr. Kim appeared to be making clear he intends to enter negotiations with Washington the way the Soviets did decades ago, as an established nuclear power.

The big question is whether he will relinquish his nuclear weapons.

South Korean policymakers argue that Mr. Kim is signaling a willingness to dismantle his nuclear arsenal for the right incentives, including economic aid, a peace treaty and other security guarantees from Washington — measures he needs to rebuild the North’s economy.

Mr. Kim is willing to discuss denuclearizing his country if provided with the right incentives, according to South Korean policymakers. Credit Korean Central News Agency

“He is seeking the kind of rapid economic growth seen in China,” said Lee Jong-seok, a former unification minister of South Korea. “The North Korea he envisions is different from his father’s North Korea.”

Mr. Lee also noted: “We have looked only on the nuclear side of Kim Jong-un’s rule, trying hard not to look at the other side. He is ready to bargain away nuclear weapons for the sake of economic development. If he were content with just feeding his people three meals a day, he would not give up his nuclear weapons.”

Cheong Seong-chang, a senior North Korea expert at the Sejong Institute, a research think tank in South Korea, said Mr. Kim’s announcement would further raise “his people’s expectation for economic improvement.”

But North Korea has long said that its nuclear weapons are not bargaining chips, and Mr. Kim himself has called them “a treasured sword of justice” and “a powerful deterrent firmly safeguarding” his people’s “rights to existence.”

Lee Sung-yoon, a Korea expert at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, called Mr. Kim’s decision just a replay of an old North Korean tactic — trying to confuse enemies with dramatic gestures in an attempt to win concessions, without ever intending to give up nuclear weapons.

“History repeats itself as farce,” he said, adding: “Kim Jong-un’s ploys are unoriginal and rather lazy.”

American officials say they have been repeatedly cheated by the North in previous talks on denuclearization. A deal in 1994 eventually collapsed when the United States accused the North of secretly enriching uranium. Another deal in 2005 fell apart in a dispute over how to verify a nuclear freeze. In 2012, the North launched a long-range rocket after agreeing to a moratorium on missile testing.

Mr. Kim’s decision to make the economy the nation’s priority and suspend nuclear tests was unanimously adopted at a Workers’ Party meeting on Friday. He also pledged to neither use nor proliferate nuclear weapons unless faced with a nuclear threat.

Washington, Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo welcomed the move, although they cautioned that the suspension of tests was just one step toward denuclearization. The announcement made no mention of further steps.

Mr. Kim did pledge to create an “international environment favorable for the socialist economic construction.” Analysts said that will give him political cover for negotiating reductions in his arsenal.

“This reads more like an arms-control offer from a nuclear nation than an isolated regime coerced into disarmament,” said Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Federation of American Scientists.

“It is a carefully circumscribed statement. It describes a partial cap of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs but not disarmament. Even under these restrictions, North Korea could continue to expand its capabilities significantly.”

Culled From The New York Times

FG Injects Over 1 Billion Naira To Osun Economy Through SIP

The Federal Government of Nigeria has injected over a billion naira into Osun economy through its Conditional Cash Transfer for Vulnerable Scheme of Buhari administration’s Social Investment Programme.

Information has revealed that more than 13,800 beneficiaries in 18 Local Government Areas of Osun were selected and currently benefiting from the Federal Government SIP scheme.

The scheme which was kick-started in December 2016 with 12 Local Government Areas has been extended to 18 of the State of Osun Local Government Areas with a target to cover the remaining 12 council areas soonest.

According to the authority in-charge, Conditional Cash Transfer for Vulnerable Scheme is a Federal Government Social Investment Programme that was designed to aid the living condition of poor, vulnerable and aged people.

Beneficiaries of the scheme were identified and nominated by community elders and selected through due process at the State of Osun Ministry of Federal Matters. These beneficiaries were selected across board without party affiliation.

The Focal Person of SIP in Osun who doubled as the State Commissioner for Federal Matters, Hon. Idiat Babalola and represented the Governor of Osun during the event organised for the disbursement of stipends to beneficiaries in Olorunda Local Government warmly welcomed and greeted the gathering as she delivers government’s goodwill message.

Hon Babalola in her remarks said the programme is a Federal Government scheme which was extracted from one of the initiatives of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the governor of Osun.

“You will remember that a similar project was started by Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and was tagged ‘Agba Osun’. Then, the Federal Government understudied the initiative, saw the beauty in it and decided to subscribe to it.”

“I urged all of you to develop the habit of saving not minding that the amount is small. Try to save a little even if it is a N1000 in a month which after 3 years will amount to N36,000 which also can be used to strenghten your business” she submitted.

The SSA to the Governor of Osun on Federal Matters, Mallam Lukman Bello urged beneficiaries to continue to pray for President Muhammad Buhari for counting them worthy to be partakers of his campaign promise, reminded them of the contents of his campaign in 2015.

Mallam Bello advised the gathering to always turn deaf ears to all lies from the table of rumourmongers against the administration of President Buhari as he urged them to continue to be of good conduct and character like the Governor.

“This scheme targets the aged/elders, you should also remember that our children are benefiting one meal per day in their respective elementary schools while the youths are immensely benefiting through N-Power scheme that puts N30,000 into their account on monthly basis.” He relayed.

The scheme has so far recorded 475 beneficiaries in Olorunda Local Government Area, spread across 30 communities.

Queen Marks 92nd Birthday With Commonwealth Concert

Queen Elizabeth II marked her 92nd birthday on Saturday with traditional gun salutes and a Commonwealth-themed charity concert featuring Tom Jones, Kylie and Shaggy.

Horse-drawn guns fired 41 times in Hyde Park and 62 times at the Tower of London, while at Windsor Castle, the band played “Happy Birthday” during the changing of the guard.

In the evening, the monarch and her family were due to attend a concert with performers from around the Commonwealth, the 53-nation grouping which held its summit in London this week.

Australia’s Kylie, Canadian pop chart-topper Shawn Mendes, South African all-male choir Ladysmith Black Mambazo and US-Jamaican reggae star Shaggy were to join British stars including Jones, Craig David and Sting.

The queen usually celebrates her birthday in private, saving the pomp for her official birthday in June.

The concert at the Royal Albert Hall will raise money for a new youth charity, The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust.

The monarch’s grandson Prince Harry, who will marry US actress Meghan Markle at Windsor on May 19, is the trust’s new president and was due to give a speech at the concert.

The queen has been the symbolic head of the Commonwealth since her father King George VI’s death in 1952, but its leaders agreed on Friday that her son and heir Prince Charles should succeed her.

The summit was overshadowed by a row over Britain’s treatment of Caribbean immigrants, while Charles himself also came under scrutiny.

A non-white writer, Anita Sethi, claimed he joked about whether she was really from the British city of Manchester when they met at a Commonwealth meeting this week.

Sethi — whose mother was born in Guyana — said Charles asked her where she was from and when she replied, said: “Well, you don’t look like it!” and laughed.

She wrote in The Guardian that she felt humiliated and angry, adding that “some people, including the prince, urgently need a history lesson about immigration”.


Fire Guts Kaduna Independent Electoral Commission Headquarters

Fire has gutted the headquarters of Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission (KADSIECOM) located along Sokoto Road in the state capital.

Eyewitnesses told newsmen that the fire, which gutted a part of the two-storey building, started around 10:30am on Saturday.

Although officials of the Federal Fire Service have put out the fire, the management of the commission has yet to make an official statement on the cause of the inferno.

The fire incident took place just as KADSIECOM prepares for the conduct of chairmanship and counsellorship elections in the 23 local government areas of the state.

Chairperson of KADSIECOM, Dr Saratu Dikko-Audu, had announced the date on February 9, during a meeting with political parties and relevant stakeholders in the polls.

According to her, the election timetable was announced following the passage of the bill by the State House of Assembly, to allow the use of electronic machine for voting during the elections.

The poll was earlier scheduled to hold in December 2017 but was cancelled indefinitely due to delay in the passage of the use of electronic voting system by the state Assembly.

Fire Guts Kaduna Independent Electoral Commission Headquarters

Fire Guts Kaduna Independent Electoral Commission Headquarters

Wenger ‘Was Sacked’, Arsenal Great Wright Says

Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright has insisted Arsene Wenger must have been sacked as he cannot believe his old boss would have walked away from his post.

Wenger announced Friday his intention to step down as Arsenal manager at the end of the season after more than 21 years in charge of the north London club.

Arsenal haven’t won the Premier League title since 2004 and now face a second successive season where they will finish outside the top four.

They’ll also likely need to win the Europa League — Wenger’s men are in the semi-finals — to qualify for Europe’s elite Champions League tournament.

Wenger had faced repeated calls to quit from frustrated Gunners’ fans in recent seasons but the 68-year-old Frenchman had remained steadfast in wanting to carry on.

Wright, who helped Arsenal win the Premier League title in the early years of Wenger’s reign, was adamant he must have been forced by the club’s hierarchy.

“Arsene Wenger is a man of principle, honesty and integrity — that is why I am convinced he has been sacked and not resigned,” Wright told Saturday’s edition of The Sun tabloid.

“For all the vitriol and abuse thrown at him, Arsene has never been a man to walk out before the end of a contract,” he added.

– ‘Doesn’t add up’ –

“It is a sad situation that it’s come to this and I don’t suppose we will ever find out who is responsible, because they will hide behind each other.

“One day he is doing a press conference with no hint of this, the next he’s gone. It doesn’t add up.

“But Arsene can go with his head high. That’s why, whatever the results, it is imperative he gets the send-off a true Arsenal and football legend deserves. We all owe him so much.”

Meanwhile, Wright’s former team-mate Martin Keown, who won three titles under Wenger, said leaving Arsenal would feel like a “bereavement” for the manager.

“My overwhelming emotion is one of sadness,” Keown told the Daily Mail.

“Beyond his family, Arsenal and football are Arsene Wenger’s two greatest loves. To give up one of them will feel like a bereavement.

“That is what it felt like to me when my time with the club ended. I spent 18 years of my career there and, even now, I still have not really got over leaving. To leave Arsenal Football Club hurts to the very core.

“For many of Wenger’s former players – myself included – it will feel like a part of them is gone from the club forever following his departure.”


Nadal Beats Dimitrov To Cruise Into 12th Monte Carlo Final

World number one Rafael Nadal swept aside Grigor Dimitrov to ease into his 12th Monte Carlo Masters final with a 6-4, 6-1 victory on Saturday.

The 31-year-old, who needs to win an 11th Monaco title to retain the number one ranking ahead of Roger Federer, will face either Kei Nishikori or Alexander Zverev in Sunday’s final.

“Every year is different and equally special,” said Nadal, after beating Dimitrov for the 11th time in 12 meetings.

“So I’ll just focus on doing the things that I have to do to give me another chance tomorrow. That’s it.

“I don’t want to think about another title yet, I just want to think about the way I have to play and try to be ready for it.”

Nadal came through a tight first set but always looked too strong for Dimitrov and raced through the second in half an hour.

The top seed is bidding for an outright record 31st Masters title this week and extended his run of consecutive sets won on clay to 34.

Nadal, playing his first ATP tournament since he retired from his Australian Open quarter-final against Marin Cilic in January with a hip injury, has shown no signs of rust.

Following a 6-0, 6-2 last-eight demolition of Dominic Thiem, Nadal has lost only 16 games in four matches this week.

Dimitrov immediately put Nadal’s serve under pressure with two perfectly-judged lobs forcing deuce, but the top seed came through an eight-minute opener.

Nadal didn’t take long to get into his stride, breaking at the first time of asking as Dimitrov struggled in the longer rallies.

The Bulgarian continued to go for his shots and brought up three break-back points in game five as Nadal followed a double fault with two wayward groundstrokes.

Nadal fired long, before Dimitrov saved a break point himself with a venomous forehand to level at 3-3.

The fourth seed was displaying the resolve needed to push Nadal on his favourite surface, and came back from break point down again as the Spaniard continued to miss chances.

But Dimitrov wasted all of his earlier good work, handing Nadal two set points with back-to-back double faults and a wild forehand.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion wrapped up the set with a whipped forehand onto the line.

That effectively ended Dimitrov’s chances, and Nadal broke to love in the second game of the second set.

Nadal stormed towards the finishing line with eight straight points on his opponent’s serve and a wide Dimitrov backhand wrapped up yet another comfortable victory.


West Brom Fightback Steals Spotlight From Salah

Mohamed Salah bagged a record-equalling goal for Liverpool, but a dramatic late equaliser from Salomon Rondon earned West Bromwich Albion a 2-2 draw on Saturday.

Rondon rose impressively in the 89th minute, arriving to nod in Chris Brunt’s free-kick and complete Albion’s recovery from a two-goal deficit at the Hawthorns.

But bottom of the table West Brom still look set for relegation from the Premier League as they are eight points from safety with only three games left.

Liverpool remain third, three points behind second-placed Manchester United.

Jurgen Klopp’s side had seemed firmly in control as Salah equalled Ian Rush’s Liverpool record of scoring in 32 different games in a single season and collected his 31st league goal of the campaign, his 41st overall.

Egypt winger Salah tied the Premier League record of most goals in a 38-game campaign, joining Alan Shearer (1995-96), Cristiano Ronaldo (2007-08) and Luis Suarez (2013-14).

He also equalled Suarez’s Liverpool record for most goals in a Premier League season.

Earlier, it was Danny Ings, a player whose Liverpool career has been blighted by injuries since moving from Burnley, who was the centre of attention with his first goal in 930 days.

Ings was preferred to Roberto Firmino, one of five key personnel rested by Klopp with an eye on Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg with Roma, and the former England international wasted little time in justifying his manager’s faith.

Sadio Mane worked a short corner with James Milner, crossing into the six-yard area where Georginio Wijnaldum had space to control the ball into the path of Ings who drove home convincingly.

It was Ings’ first goal since scoring against Everton in October 2015, shortly after his move to Anfield, and his celebrations indicated the obvious relief felt by a player who has badly injured the cruciate ligaments in both knees in the intervening years.

Suspected Herdsmen Kill 10 In Fresh Benue Attack

At least 10 residents were killed when suspected armed herdsmen invaded Saghev Ward in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State.

The state government confirmed the attack and the casualty figure on Saturday in a statement by Mr Terver Akase, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Samuel Ortom.

According to them, many innocent persons are feared killed during the attack which started on Friday night and lasted until the early hours of the next day.

The communities affected by the invasion are Tse-Abi, Tse-Ginde, Tse-Peviv, Tse-Ikyo, Agenke and Gbenke.

“Ten corpses have so far been recovered with many others injured. The armed herdsmen also burnt numerous houses, shops and other property in the area.

“This mindless attack was unprovoked, and we urge security agencies to arrest the herdsmen behind the killings for prosecution,” the statement read.

However, the police authorities in Benue have yet to issue any statement concerning the attack.

Nigerian Army Launches Operation To “Totally Destroy Boko Haram”

The Nigerian Army has announced the launch of a new operation to totally destroy the terror group, Boko Haram.

According to a statement by David Ahmadu, the Chief of Training and Operations, the new operation‎ will last four months.

“Operation LAST HOLD is expected to last for 4 months and it will entail deployment of 6 additional manoeuvre brigades and other critical assets in Borno State‎,” Mr Ahmadu, a major general, said.

Over 100,000 people are believed to have died from the Boko Haram insurgency since 2009, majority of them in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states.

The military and the federal government have ‎in the past announced that the insurgents have been “technically defeated.”

However, the terror group, which has since split into factions, is still able to carry out attacks on civilian and military targets.

Mr Chukwu, however, says the new operation will “ensure the destruction of Boko Haram Terrorist camps and strong points in the Lake Chad Basin.”

“The operation will also facilitate the rescue of hostages,” he said.

Read his full statement below.

You may recall that the Nigerian Army has been engaged in the conduct of counter insurgency operation tagged Operation LAFIYA DOLE in the North East region for some years with considerable successes. However, the complex and adaptive nature of the Boko Haram insurgency has resulted in the dissident group still sometimes being engaged in abductions, attack on soft targets, Improvised Explosive Device attacks and suicide bombings.

2. It has become expedient for the Nigerian Army to change operating tactics, techniques and procedure in the North East region. Accordingly, the Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL) 2018 will be commemorated with the conduct of an operation tagged Operation LAST HOLD in Northern Borno within the North East Theatre. The design is to deploy personnel and equipment to showcase the combat efficiency of the NA and thereafter conduct operations to totally destroy Boko Haram locations in the Lake Chad Basin.

3. Operation LAST HOLD is expected to last for 4 months and it will entail deployment of 6 additional manoeuvre brigades and other critical assets in Borno State. The operation is intended to facilitate the clearance of the Lake Chad waterways of sea weeds and other obstacles obstructing the movement of boats and people across the water channels. It will also ensure the destruction of Boko Haram Terrorist camps and strong points in the Lake Chad Basin. The operation will also facilitate the rescue of hostages. The operational end-state of Operation LAST HOLD is the total defeat of the Boko Haram Terrorist Sect. Strategically, the conduct of Operation LAST HOLD will facilitate the restoration of fishing, farming and other economic activities in the Lake Chad Basin. Additionally, it will facilitate the relocation of Internally Displaced Persons from IDP camps to their communities.

4. Operation LAST HOLD is conceptualised to involve the conduct of population influence activities targeted to improve Civil-Military relations in the North East region. It is pertinent to note that Operation LAST HOLD is set to record remarkable achievements that would make the nation proud of the Nigerian Army’s determination at sustaining its constitutional role of defending the territorial integrity of the nation as well as its commitment to aid the civil authority to bring about peace and security. In this regard, law abiding members of the public in Northern Borno State are enjoined not to panic as their safety and well-being have been deliberately factored in the operation. The general public is requested to remain vigilant and be security conscious, as suspected insurgents may be fleeing from military operations in the North East and finding safe haven amidst our communities. The public is also reminded to report any suspicious activity or movement to the nearest military formation or other security agencies for prompt action.

5. Gentlemen of the press, you have always been our partners in progress; hence we are using this opportunity to request you to give this operation widest publicity in your respective media. On this note, on behalf of the Chief of Army Staff, officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army, I thank you all for honouring our invitation. I will now take questions from you and clarify doubts if any.

Major General David D AHMADU
Chief of Training and Operations (Army)

Why I Gave Extra N10billion To National Assembly — Kemi Adeosun

The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, has reacted to a report detailing how her ministry illegally approved N10 billion for the National Assembly.

The report, published on Friday, indicated that Mrs Adeosun released the billions to the lawmakers despite the N125billion appropriated for the federal legislature in the 2017 fiscal year for recurrent and capital expenditures.

The fund was arbitrarily approved for the lawmakers by the minister in collusion with the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris.

Investigations by a news medium who published the report also showed that at least 44 of the 82 contractors the leadership of the National Assembly claimed they were owing were not registered on the National Database of Contractors, a database of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP). That means they are not eligible to be awarded federal contracts.

A further check by this newspaper revealed that 17 of the 44 firms were not even registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

In a statement by her media aide, Oluyinka Akintunde, Friday evening, the minister confirmed releasing the fund, but said her action remained legal.

Describing the newspaper’s report as ‘defective,’ Mrs Adeosun claimed that warrants were issued before the billions were moved to the lawmakers.

“The attention of the Honourable Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has been drawn to a smear campaign by an online medium, Premium Times, of “illegally sharing of N10 billion from the national treasury”.

“The Honourable Minister wishes to debunk the entire mischievous and made-up report of the online medium which negates the ethics and professionalism of journalism. The article displays a worrying lack of understanding of Appropriation, Payments and Control, and therefore be disregarded by the public.

“The Minister further wishes to state that warrants are issued in accordance with Appropriation and after due approval by the Cash Plan Committee chaired by the Minister.”

The statement however failed to explain the process of approval for such warrant.

The minister did not also address salient issues such as the release of funds outside the budget and award of contracts to unqualified companies.

Mrs Adeosun did not also explain why she failed to conduct further due diligence by asking for evidence that the contracts were duly awarded before she approved the funds for the lawmakers.

Another explanation the minister failed to make is why her ministry preferred to give N10billion of the N20billion allocated for the payments of federal contractors to the National Assembly which has a budget that covers all its recurrent and capital spendings

Aregbesola Receives NUJ’s Award, Dedicates It To Market Women

The Governor of the state of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has again been applauded for his effort in developing and transforming the state since inception of his administration.
Aregbesola, on Thursday, received Golden Merit Award in ‘Unprecedented Infrastructural Development’ from the Nigeria Union of Journalist, State of Osun Council.
According to the Chairman of the NUJ, Comrade Abiodun Olalere, Aregbesola’s track records in the last seven years and uncommon display of exemplary leadership qualities which reflect in “The New Face of Osun” and apparent display of love and affection to the people of the state in particular have endeared him to the young and the old.
The NUJ stated that the unprecedented number of flyovers and quality of road network that Aregbesola has constructed, state of the art and well-equipped Modern Schools with free lunch being given to pupils in elementary school and un-quantified efforts to make Osun self-sustaining and industrial hub are part of the reasons why he earned the award.
Receiving the award, Aregbesola expressed happiness on the level of infrastructural development his administration has been able to put in place.
Aregbesola said of the many achievements of the present administration in the state, the most fulfilling to him is the rebranding of the state as the
“The State of the Virtures” and the success in making residents of the behave in such manner.
He reiterated the need for every resident of the state to always display the
“Omoluabi Ethos” in their day to day activities, stating that the revival of good character, the ‘Omoluabi virtues ‘ is one of the greatest achievement of his administration.
“It is good to know that you have given me an award because of the various achievements of our administration, roads are good, good school buildings are fantastic, but I want tell you that my greatest joy as a governor today is that this administration has been able to revive the Omoluabi Virtures
among our people”, he said.
Aregbesola stressed that no matter how good or long lasting a road or building may be, it will eventually wear off sooner or later, but the good character in an individual will forever remain.
The governor declared that he dedicated the award to the market men and women in the state for their supports, explaining that he was delighted that after two years, they have finally embraced the government weighing scaled called ‘Osunwon Omoluabi’ for use in their businesses.
He appealed to journalist in the country to try as much as possible to imbibe the spirit of developmental journalism as means of helping the country to grow, charging them to always see themselves as a major stakeholder who will determine whether the country will be peaceful and experience growth.