A team of U.N. experts reportedly has concluded that a shipment of obsolete Cuban arms interdicted in July en route to North Korea, allegedly for repairs, violated international sanctions, Agence France-Presse reported last week.
The North Korean Chong Chon Gang cargo ship was seized by Panamanian authorities as it attempted to pass through the Panama Canal. A search of the freighter’s hold uncovered 25 containers filled with Soviet-era systems including missiles, command-and-control technology, and two fighter jets.
The weaponry “undoubtedly violates U.N. sanctions, which supports the course of action Panama took,” the Panamanian public safety ministry said in a release, citing a draft report by the investigating U.N. team of sanctions experts. The investigators wrapped up their inspection of the cargo in August.
Cuba has said it was not exporting the arms to North Korea, merely sending them there for an overhaul after which they were to be returned to the Caribbean nation. Pyongyang’s payment for this work appears to have been a large shipment of accompanying sugar.
Separately, the Japanese Defense Ministry is interested in modifying its military alliance agreement with the United States to allow for Japan to carry out advance strikes on the military assets of enemy countries, Kyodo News reported on Tuesday.
Tokyo and Washington “need to thoroughly study a possible attack on (hostile bases) in the event of a missile launch clearly targeting Japan,” Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said, in discussing North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities.
Onodera and his U.S. counterpart, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, last week in a meeting in Brunei decided to hold further bilateral defense talks on the matter.
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In a unanimous decision, "the Supreme Court on Tuesday said it violates insider-trading laws for a corporate officer to make a “gift” of insider information to a relative, a decision that makes it easier for those who police Wall Street to bring prosecutions."
House Speaker Paul Ryan has decreed that House members "won’t receive their committee assignments until January — after they cast a public vote on the House floor for speaker. "The move has sparked behind-the-scenes grumbling from a handful of Ryan critics, who say the delay allows him and the Speaker-aligned Steering Committee to dole out committee assignments based on political loyalty rather than merit or expertise." The roll call to elect the speaker is set for Jan. 3, the first vote of the new Congress.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Monday that the government funding bill will be released on Tuesday. The bill is the last piece of legislation Congress needs to pass before leaving for the year and is expected to fund the government through the spring. The exact time date the bill would fund the government through is unclear, though it is expected to be in April or May.
As has been rumored for a week, Donald Trump will nominate Ben Carson, his former rival, to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In a statement, Trump said, "We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities. Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a Presidency representing all Americans. He is a tough competitor and never gives up."