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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Syria Refuses to Allow Entry to UN Chemical Weapons Inspectors

Syria has said it will not accept a chemical weapons inspection team proposed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon which would investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons in the country’s civil war. A statement carried out by the state SANA news agency said the UN had “suggested a supplementary mission allowing the mission to deploy throughout Syrian territory, which is contrary to the demand Syria made to the United Nations”. According to Al Jazeera’s diplomatic editor James Bays, Syria suggested that Ban was “yielding to pressure from countries they say are involved in sustaining the bloodshed in Syria”. A UN team is in Cyprus awaiting authorisation to travel to Syria and carry out the investigation. “I urge the Syrian government to be more flexible, so that this mission can be deployed as fast as possible”, said the secretary general. The move comes two weeks after the regime of President Bashar al-Assad had asked the UN to investigate what it said was a rebel chemical attack near Aleppo.

North Korea Tells Foreigners to Leave South Korea ‘For Their Own Safety’

North Korea has urged foreigners living in South Korea to leave the country and flee to safety because the Korean peninsula is on the brink of a war. “We do not wish harm on foreigners in South Korea should there be a war”, said an official from a North Korean organisation billing itself as the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee to the state KCNA news agency. While there were no further details in the report, the border is less than 70 kilometres from the South Korean capital, Seoul. Meanwhile, North Korea has apparently carried out its threat of pulling out workers from the joint industrial complex in Kaesong, as none of the 53,000 North Korean workers at the site arrived for work on Tuesday morning. In Japan, the country’s defence forces has deployed missile interceptors inside Tokyo and also put destroyers with missile-intercepting capability in the Sea of Japan. The Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, said the government would carry out “every possible measure to protect the lives and safety of the Japanese people”.

6.3-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Near Iranian Nuclear Facility

A 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck southern Iran on Tuesday afternoon near the country’s only nuclear power station, killing 30 people. The US Geological Survey said the earthquake hit at a depth of 10 kilometres and at a distance of 89 kilometres to the city of Bushehr, where the nuclear power station is located. Bushehr provincial governor Fereydoon Hasanvand told Iranian television that no damage had been caused at the plant, but confirmed the deaths and said teams from the Red Crescent and the Iranian Interior Ministry had been dispatched to the area. The earthquake coincided with the country’s National Day of Nuclear Technology, when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took to the country’s airwaves to say that Western leaders should accept the country’s right to nuclear power. “Iran has gone nuclear and nobody will be able to stop it. This nuclear technology and power and science have been institutionalized. All the stages are in our control and every day that we go forward a new horizon opens up for the Iranian nation”, said Ahmadinejad.

Gunman Kills 13 in Serbian Village Rampage

A Serbian veteran of the Balkans War has shot 13 relatives and neighbours in the early hours of Tuesday morning in the town of Velika Ivanca, some of whom were still sleep. Sixty-year-old Ljubisa Bogdanovic reportedly first shot his son and then went from house to house shooting the other victims, six men, six women and a two-year-old boy. Twelve died at the scene while another died in hospital, with neighbours saying the shooting spree only ended when police arrived on location. Bogdanovic then tried to kill his wife before shooting himself. Both survived, but were in a critical condition in hospital. Witnesses said Bogdanovic went knocking on doors and shooting anyone who opened before proceeding to shoot any other residents. Serbian police described the shooter as a family man with no criminal records, but that he had been in active service during the Balkan Wars and had not been treated for any psychological issues. A neighbour said that something must have “flicked in his head”.

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