In brief: North Korea threatens to conduct nuclear test
Seoul, South Korea – North Korea is warning that it is prepared to conduct a nuclear test and carry out more long-range rocket launches.
In a statement carried today by state media, the National Defense Commission in Pyongyang threatened to wage a “full-fledged confrontation” against the U.S. for what it calls continued hostility.
The declaration follows the U.N. Security Council’s condemnation of North Korea on Tuesday and expanded sanctions against the regime for launching a rocket in December.
North Korea said the launch was a peaceful satellite mission, but the U.S. and others say it was actually a test of long-range missile technology.
New Parliament to have wider powers in Jordan
Amman, Jordan – Jordanians voted Wednesday for a parliament with wider authority, as the king cedes some of his powers to try to prevent simmering dissent from boiling over into a full-blown Arab Spring uprising.
The new legislature will choose the prime minister and run day-to-day affairs, powers that used to reside with King Abdullah II. Foreign policy and security matters remain in the hands of the king.
Abdullah has introduced the reforms in a measured manner, trying to manage the pace of change.
Critics charge that the reforms are too mild and the election is not enough of a change. The main opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, boycotted the voting.
Nearly 1,500 candidates, including 191 women, ran for the 150-seat parliament. Unofficial results were expected today.
U.S. ambassador objects to ‘State of Palestine’ sign
United Nations – U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice objected Wednesday to the Palestinians’ latest bid to capitalize on their upgraded U.N. status when their foreign minister spoke at the Security Council while seated behind a nameplate that read “State of Palestine.”
It was the first Palestinian address to the Security Council since the U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Nov. 29 to upgrade the Palestinians from U.N. observer to non-voting member state.
Rice said that the United States does not recognize the General Assembly vote in November “as bestowing Palestinian ‘statehood’ or recognition.”
“Only direct negotiations to settle final status issues will lead to this outcome,” Rice said.