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NightWatch 20130308

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For the night of 8 March 2013

North Korea: Update. The Korean Central News Agency published in English a Foreign Ministry statement denouncing the United Nations as acting on behalf of the United States in "cooking up" a new sanctions resolution.

Comment: The statement denounced the US and the UN, but did not mention China. It concluded with one noteworthy sentence. "The world will clearly see what permanent position the DPRK will reinforce as a nuclear weapons state and satellite launcher as a result of the U.S. attitude of prodding the UNSC into cooking up the 'resolution.'"

At least one additional North Korean media outlet published an item that referred to demonstrating that the North has permanent nuclear and satellite capabilities. Something is wrong with the translation, or perhaps the concept. However, the message seems to be that the North intends to make launches and tests sufficiently often so that other nations will get used to them as normal.

This is entirely separate from the consequences of terminating the Armistice, but is a key part of the new strategic situation that is emerging in northeast Asia.

China-North Korea: Much of the daily press conference at the Foreign Ministry on 8 March was devoted to responding to press questions concerning North Korean behavior in general and its reaction to the UN Security Council Resolution 2094 that imposes a new set of sanctions on North Korea.

The spokesman said China has normal-state-to-state relations with North Korea. The situation is very complicated and sensitive.

He also said, "It is in the common interest of the international community to maintain peace and stability on the peninsula and in Northeast Asia at large. The Chinese side asks the parties concerned to remain calm, exercise restraint, and avoid making further moves that could lead to an escalating situation. We call on all sides to maintain dialogue and consultations, resolve the issue of denuclearizing the peninsula within the framework of the Six-Party Talks, and explore an effective way to fundamentally achieve lasting peace and stability on the peninsula and in Northeast Asia at large."

Comment: The spokesman repeated China's prior positions. When asked whether China will enforce the sanctions, he said that China would comply with international law.

Hamas: Regarding President Obama's scheduled Mideast visit, Hamas official Mushir al-Masri said today at a Gaza rally: "We affirm that Obama's visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque under the occupation's authority and sovereignty will constitute a declaration of war on and provocation against our Arab and Muslim nation."

Comment: This is the second time a Hamas official has urged the US President to not visit the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem with an Israeli security escort. The difference is that the latest warning is much more shrill.

Egypt: Police forces withdrew from the streets of Port Said, on the Suez Canal, after transferring security responsibilities to the armed forces. The Interior Ministry said the move was taking 'to alleviate tension' in the city.

Comment: Apparently the demonstrators have communicated that they respect the army more than the police and feel safer under army protection.

Meanwhile, the police strike spread. In one southern region, jihadists said they would take over law enforcement responsibilities because the police were on strike. Hmm….

End of NightWatch for 8 March.

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