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Top North Korean official says his country faces major food shortages, blaming weather and …

A senior North Korean official says his country is facing dwindling food supplies and has been forced to cut food rations for its people, according to memo, written by Kim Song, the North Korean ambassador to the United Nations, appears to be an unusual admission that the country lacks enough food to feed its people, a situation that Kim blamed on a combination of natural disasters and the sanctions regime that is making it difficult to obtain farming equipment.Song said the North Korean government was urgently requesting help from international organizations to feed its people.The memo was obtained by NBC News from the country’s United Nations mission.
Kim’s claims are difficult to verify, and his government has not always been a reliable source of internal statistics. He said a food assessment, conducted late last year in conjunction with the UN’s World Food Program, found that the country produced 503,000 fewer tons of food than in 2017 due to record high temperatures, drought, heavy rainfall and — in an unexpected admission — sanctions.In a plea for food assistance from international organizations, however, the memo states that sanctions “restricting the delivery of farming materials in need is another major reason” the country faces shortages that has forced it to cut “food rations per capita for a family of blue or white collar workers” from 550 grams to 300 grams in January.“All in all, it vindicates that humanitarian assistance from the UN agencies is terribly politicized and how barbaric and inhuman sanctions are,” the memo says.Though the country plans to increase food imports and harvest its crops early this year, the memo says that North Korea would still face food shortages and may only increase rations by 10 grams in July.This unusual admission from a country that tends toward secrecy came just before President Donald Trump prepares to face North Korea leader Kim Jong Un next week in Vietnam.The White House hopes to pressure Kim to rid his country of nuclear weapons.Experts warned, however, that the claims of a severe shortage might be a negotiating tactic ahead of the two-day summit.
“It may be admitting weakness, but it’s not without a plan,” said Dr. Victor Cha, who served as the director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council during the Bush administration.Cha said that North Korea may feel that it has some momentum to convince Trump to loosen the sanctions against it, especially with South Korea, China and Russia “beating down the doors of the United States.”But for the United States to blink in next week’s confrontation, the Trump administration will have to see results, Cha said.Related News Trump says second summit with North Koreas Kim Jong Un will be in Hanoi“They’re going to want some denuclearization steps from North Korea, but I don’t think the North Koreans are going to give up very much,” Cha said. “When we talk about any sanction-lifting though, a lot of experts would say the place where you can do the least harm and the most good for the North Korean people is through humanitarian sanctions.”Of North Korea’s 25 million people, 10.3 million or 41 percent of the population face food insecurity and 10.1 million suffer from malnutrition, according to a March 2018 UN report.North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides field guidance to Farm No.1116 under KPA Unit 810, in this undated photo released in Pyongyang Sept. 13, 2016.  KCNA / via Reuters fileIn an attempt to increase the pressure against Kim’s regime and their nuclear program, the Trump administration increased sanctions that essentially cut off the flow of international humanitarian aid to North Korea, according to an August Reuters report. U.S. humanitarian aid in 2018 dropped nearly 57 percent from the year prior, the wire service reported.Though it is clear that North Korea is receiving less aid, it is more than unusual for them to publicly admit that sanctions are working and causing the nation to suffer.The White House National Security Council and the State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.North Korea has previously acknowledged food shortages, appealed for humanitarian aid and blamed international sanctions for creating problems for its agricultural production, experts and former U.S. officials said. The country has repeatedly suffered food crises in recent decades, due to a combination of inefficient collectivist farming methods and bad weather.
A devastating famine in the mid-1990s claimed the lives of up to three million people, and some aid experts called it one of the 20th century’s worst famines.Last year, the Trump administration stopped granting visas to humanitarian workers who had been traveling to North Korea to provide aid to farmers and medical assistance in a country where malaria and tuberculosis are endemic.Aid groups wrote a letter to the administration in October arguing that the block on visas violated international law, would exacerbate the country’s dire humanitarian situation and that would only undermine any diplomatic initiative by Washington.The administration told aid groups in January it would ease the restrictions to allow them to resume their work in the North.
Daniel Jasper, advocacy coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker charity that has conducted humanitarian work in North Korea for decades, said the sanctions and the way they have been enforced has “inhibited our operations.”“It’s reasonable to infer there would be food insecurity” as a result of the sanctions, Jasper said.Even if North Korea managed its resources more efficiently, it does not have enough arable land to feed its population of about 24 million people, Jasper said. Much of the Korean peninsula’s fertile land lies in South Korea.“The division has always taken a toll on food security in the North,” he said.The North Korean regime in the past also has linked negotiations over its nuclear program to food aid, demanding more assistance as a condition for taking part in talks.The new memo is consistent with Pyongyang’s tactics “to weaken the sanctions regime by appealing to humanitarian concerns,” said Jung Pak, a former CIA officer and now senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “Even though the regime imports hundreds of millions of dollars in luxury items, it consistently blames the U.S. and U.N. for its problems,” she said.Sue Mi Terry, who tracked North Korea as a CIA analyst, said she believes the regime is preparing the way for the upcoming summit.“What they want is sanctions relief.That’s the main thing that they’re looking for,” said Terry, now a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “They are laying the groundwork for this meeting with Trump.This makes sense.”The Trump administration will probably be open to broadening exemptions for humanitarian aid, as it would be something concrete to offer to Pyongyang without having to fully lift the economic sanctions before North Korea makes substantial concessions over its nuclear weapons program, she said.This could be “one of the deliverables at this second summit,” Terry said.Phil McCauslandPhil McCausland is an NBC News reporter focused on the rural-urban divide.

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Abe nominated Trump for the Nobel at behest of Washington

Acceding to a request from Washington, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe nominated U.S. President Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize around autumn for engaging with North Korea, Japanese government sources said Feb. 16.
S.President Donald Trump speaks at a news conference at the White House on Feb. 15 (Yuko Lanham)According to the sources, the U.S.
government “informally” asked Tokyo to nominate Trump after he met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore in June, the first-ever summit between the two countries.At a news conference in the White House on Feb 15, Trump revealed that Abe gave him a copy of a five-page letter the prime minister sent to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which awards the prize.The deadline for nominating candidates for the prize is February every year.
College professors and members of the parliament in each country, as well as former Nobel laureates, are eligible to recommend candidates.Trump quoted Abe as saying, “I have nominated you, respectfully, on behalf of Japan.”As for the reasons for the nomination, Trump said, “Because he had rocket ships and he had missiles flying over Japan. They had alarms going off.You know that. Now, all of a sudden they feel good.They feel safe. I did that ”U.S.media reported on the revelation in a disbelieving tone.The online edition of The Washington Post reported Trump’s comments on Feb 15 in the article titled, “Trump says he’s been nominated for a Nobel. But did Japan’s Abe actually do it? Or was it S.Korea’s Moon?” referring to South Korean President Moon Jae-in.The article said: “Some analysts speculated that Trump had indeed mistaken Abe for Moon.”But Abe’s eagerness to praise Trump has been reported in the United States, which started with him being the first foreign leader to meet with the new U.S.president-elect soon after the 2016 presidential election.Abe described the recent U.S. mid-term elections results as a “historic victory” when he met with Trump in November.
In the elections, which saw voters issue a split verdict, Democrats captured the House and Republicans added a few more seats to their majority in the Senate.South Korean news media also reported on Trump’s comments about Abe nominating Trump on Feb.16. Many of the reports also speculated that it must have been Moon, not Abe, who recommended Trump to the committee.
According to the South Korean presidential office, the wife of former South Korean president Kim Dae-jung sent a telegram congratulating Moon, reportedly saying Moon should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his diplomatic efforts with North Korea. But Moon said that it is Trump who deserves the prize.
Moon’s meeting with Kim Jong Un in April 2018 marked the first summit between the two Koreas since 2007.Kim Dae-jung was the first South Korean president to meet with the then North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, in 2000.He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000. 0listPrintRelated News Abe won’t affirm if he nominated Trump for Nobel Peace PrizeFebruary 18, 2019Abe nominated Trump for the Nobel at behest of Washington February 17, 2019 Trump claims Japan’s PM nominated him for Nobel Peace PrizeFebruary 16, 2019LDP lawmakers asked to check with cities on SDF recruitment February 15, 2019 Limits on health insurance eyed as more foreign workers on wayFebruary 15, 2019What’s NewKin of Japanese abductees make direct appeal to N.
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Wada non-compliance may hit Olympic joint bid

SEOUL • The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) said North Korea’s testing programme has failed to comply with its code, threatening to derail a joint Korean bid for the 2032 summer Olympics.
Wada gave Pyongyang four months to address doping concerns raised in a review in September, but the agency announced late on Wednesday that the deadline to correct “non-conformities” had passed without reply from the reclusive regime.”The World Anti-Doping Agency announces that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Anti-Doping Committee is, effective today, non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code,” the Montreal-based agency said, using North Korea’s official name.The concerns related to the implementation of its testing programme, it added.Wada’s decision casts a shadow on Seoul’s ambitious bid to jointly host the 2032 Olympics with a North Korean city, likely its capital Pyongyang.Any country submitting a bid is required to be in compliance with Wada’s code.
North Korean athletes could also be excluded from competing in the Olympics or other international competitions, under Wada rules requiring them to conform with the code “as a condition of such participation”.However, at a meeting in Lausanne between South and North officials yesterday, the two nations also expressed their interest for a joint march at next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games, as well as fielding some unified teams in different sports.South and North Korea were buoyed by the role the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics played in easing tensions – they had marched together at the opening ceremony for the first time since the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.In recent months, the two Koreas have also turned to sports diplomacy to ease tensions.
In Pyeongchang last year, North Korea sent leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, to express the regime’s interest in an inter-Korean summit.That paved the way for a whirl of diplomacy, including three inter-Korean summits in six months and a landmark June 12 Singapore meeting between United States President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader.

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