02102016Wed
Last update: Wed, 10 Feb 2016 03pm

General News: World

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North Korea has restarted a plutonium reactor that could fuel a nuclear bomb and is seeking missile technology that could threaten the United States, Washington's top spy said Tuesday. In an annual threat assessment, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and senior military and intelligence officials singled out the authoritarian pariah state as a major and unpredictable menace.
Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have banned Iranian-flagged vessels from entering their waters and imposed other shipping restrictions, according to ship insurers citing local reports, potentially escalating tensions between Tehran and Riyadh. Iran has been struggling to ramp up oil exports and still faces insurance and financing hurdles despite the lifting of international curbs on its banking, insurance and shipping sectors last month as part of a nuclear deal with world powers.
Turkey's foreign ministry summoned the US ambassador on Tuesday, according to media reports, after State Department spokesman John Kirby angered Ankara by saying that Washington did not consider the main Syrian Kurdish party to be a terrorist organisation.
The United Nations on Tuesday urged Turkey to open its borders to tens of thousands of Syrians who have overwhelmed nearby emergency camps after fleeing a major government offensive. The main border crossing north of Syria's second city Aleppo remained closed, forcing huge crowds including women and children to sleep in tents or in the open.
An air strike hit a hospital in southern Syria that is supported by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), killing three people and wounding six, the medical charity said on Tuesday. "The strike on Tafas field hospital, some 12 kilometres (seven miles) from the Jordanian border, took place on the night of February 5. It caused partial damage to the hospital building, and put its heavily-used ambulance service out of action," MSF said in a statement. A nurse was among the casualties, it added.
Russia is "paranoid" about being challenged by Nato and its efforts to rival American power could push it into a new Cold War, the head of US intelligence said Tuesday. "They're greatly concerned about being contained," the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Clapper said that Russia fears the installation of a missile defense network in Europe could negate the threat posed to the West by its nuclear arsenal.
Western superiority in military technology is "eroding", notably at the hands of China and Russia, a leading think-tank said Tuesday in its annual report on the state of militaries around the world. The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London said in its Military Balance report that increasingly easy access to technology by non-state groups means the world faces "an increasingly complex balance of military power". It also highlighted that Russia and China are pushing to modernise their militaries and are "increasingly active in the development and deployment of advanced military capabilities".