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Japan arrests North Korean crew amid mystery boat arrivals

Thompson Reuters



TOKYO — Japanese police have arrested three crew of a North Korean boat on Saturday for stealing a generator from a hut on an uninhabited island, public broadcaster NHK said, the latest drama amid increasing arrivals of North Korean fishing boats off Japan.

The boats, some in distress, some abandoned and some with dead bodies on board, have raised fears about infiltration by spies as tension with North Korea surges over its missile and nuclear programs. North Korea has test-fired two missiles over Japan, a country it has threatened to destroy.

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Most experts say the wooden boats are just carrying fishermen including soldiers drafted to fish. There has been no suggestion the crew are defectors.

A boat, with 10 crew on board, was found moored at the island, off Hokkaido, last month and several crew said they picked up electronic goods from the hut, according to NHK.

Police arrested three of them for theft and other crew members will be sent to the Immigration Bureau, NHK said.

Hokkaido police were not immediately available to comment. A spokesman at the Japan coast guard declined to comment.

There were 28 cases of boats adrift off Japan or grounded on its shores in November, the coast guard has said, compared with just four in November last year.

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Britain, France and Germany propose new sanctions on Iran

Gorkha Post



BRUSSELS — Britain, France and Germany have proposed fresh EU sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missiles and its role in Syria’s war, according to a confidential document, in a bid to persuade Washington to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran,according to a document seen by the Reuters news agency.

On March 16, Reuters reported the move would be aimed at satisfying demands made by US President Donald Trump and keeping him ‘committed’ to the 2015 nuclear pact that Tehran signed with world powers and from which Trump has threatened to withdraw.

All 28 members must agree to any such sanctions,according to EU rules.

The document, citing specifically Iran’s ballistic-missile tests and its role in supporting Syria’s government in the seven-year-old civil war against Western-backed rebels, said, “We will…be circulating in the coming days a list of persons and entities that we believe should be targeted in view of their publicly demonstrated roles”.

The proposal is part of an EU strategy to save the accord signed by world powers that curbs Tehran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons, namely by showing US.President Donald Trump that there are other ways to counter Iranian power abroad.

Trump delivered an ultimatum to the European signatories on Jan. 12. It said they must agree to ‘fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal’ which was sealed under his predecessor Barack Obama or he would refuse to extend U.S. sanctions relief on Iran. US sanctions will resume unless Trump issues fresh ‘waivers’ to suspend them on May 12.

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The steps would go beyond what a U.S. State Department cable seen by Reuters last month outlined as a path to satisfy Trump: simply committing to improving the nuclear deal.

European Union foreign ministers will discuss the proposal at a closed-door meeting on Monday in Brussels, diplomats said.

Analysts say the nuclear agreement, touted at the time as a breakthrough reducing the risk of a devastating wider war in the Middle East, could collapse if Washington pulls out.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif struck a defiant note towards Washington on Friday.

“If the United States makes the mistake of pulling out of the JCPOA, it will definitely be a painful mistake for the Americans,” Iranian state television quoted Zarif as saying. The JCPOA is the formal name of the nuclear deal.

Zarif did not refer to the possibility of new EU sanctions.

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