China No! To North Korea Blockade!

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China has refused to search North Korean ships, throwing US attempts to enforce a blockade and sanctions into disarray.

The United States is urging China to fully enforce the United Nations (UN) sanctions on North Korea over Pyongyang’s nuclear test.

China’s cooperation is essential, given its close ties with North Korea.

But Beijing is worried about the move to inspect all cargo moving in and out of North Korea, to ensure the country does not receive or export nuclear material.

China fears any attempt to stop North Korean ships could spark a confrontation and war on the high seas, and says it has no intention of conducting any cargo searches.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday: ‘China signed on to this resolution, it voted for this resolution, it is a Chapter 7 mandatory resolution and so I’m quite certain that China is going to live up to its responsibilities.’

Rice added that some of the enforcement details still need to be worked out.

‘I understand that people are concerned about how it might work so that it doesn’t enhance tensions in the region,’ she said.

Russia has meanwhile declared through its Defence Minister Ivanov, that ‘there must not even be a hint of the use of force against North Korea’.

Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has warned that up to 30 new countries could have the capability to build a nuclear weapon, on top of the nine current nuclear powers.

IAEA chief inspector Mohamed El Baradei told a Vienna symposium of 500 experts to discuss ways to safeguard peaceful nuclear programmes, that these 30 countries have the means and know-how to enrich uranium or reprocess plutonium.

He said: ‘We need to develop a new system of international approach or we will not end up with nine nuclear weapon states only but with another 20 or 30 states which have the capacity to develop nuclear weapons in a short time.’

El Baradei added that there are a lot of temptations to seek nuclear weapons in today’s insecure political environment.

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‘VICTORY AGAINST THE OCCUPATION IS CERTAIN’ says Saddam

‘Victory against the occupation forces is certain,’ says Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in a letter given by him to his lawyer and published yesterday.

The letter, which Saddam said he wrote to mark the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, came as the puppet Iraqi High Tribunal in Baghdad was poised to set a date for its verdict in the ousted president’s first trial on charges of crimes against humanity.

Saddam urges the Iraqi people to be ‘just’ in the insurgency against US-led troops.

He says: ‘Resistance against the invaders is a right and a duty . . . but I urge the brothers in the noble resistance and the great Iraqi people to be just and fair.

‘I also urge you to forgive those who lost their way . . . and keep the door of forgiveness open until the last minute that precedes the hour of liberation.

‘Do not forget that your goal is to liberate your country from the invaders and their followers and is not a settling of accounts outside this goal.

‘Remember that after each war there is peace, after each division there is unity.’

He stresses: ‘We are a united and undivided people . . . made up of Arabs, Kurds and various religions and communities.’

Saddam also asks the Iraqi people ‘to forgive those who shed the blood of your sons and brothers, including the sons of Saddam Hussein’ – a reference to Uday and Qusay Hussein killed in a US raid in 2003.

Saddam faces the death penalty if convicted over the alleged killing of 148 Shi’ite civilians from the town of Dujail, north of Baghdad, following a 1982 assassination attempt on the Iraqi president.