World News Brief, Friday March 8

North Korea threatens US with nuclear attack; Malaysia rejects cease-fire offer; Pakistan launches naval drills with US, China; former Italian PM Berlusconi gets one-year jail term; and more

Top of the Agenda: North Korea Threatens U.S. With Preemptive Nuclear Strike

North Korea threatened the United States on Thursday with a preemptive nuclear strike (Reuters) in an acute escalation of rhetoric as the UN Security Council considers new sanctions against the country for its third nuclear test in February. The Security Council is preparing to add three North Korean weapons dealers and two entities to the sanctions (Yonhap), and is set to vote on the draft on Thursday in New York. After weeks of bilateral talks, the United States and China agreed this week to draft a resolution (BBC), which also calls for mandatory inspections of North Korean ships and planes suspected of carrying banned items, including luxury goods.


"North Korea's development of nuclear weapons is, in part, based on the illusion that it can achieve an equal negotiating position with the U.S., and thereby force Washington to compromise. But it is entirely possible that a nuclear-armed North Korea could try to twist China's arm if Beijing were to fail to meet its demands or if the U.S. were to signal goodwill towards it," writes Deng Yuwen for the Financial Times.

"It's too soon to tell whether China's support of the sanctions resolution means that it has made strategic decision to radically change its policy toward North Korea. Some influential figures in the Chinese elite have soured on the D.P.R.K. and are speaking out publicly to urge a tougher approach or even abandoning China's troublesome ally," writes Susan Shirk for ChinaFile.

"Due to the North's development of nuclear power and stagnant talks, the window for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is closing. The room for future discussion has shrunk. In the short term, small conflicts could break out between the North and South. However, a large-scale conflict is less likely, unless Pyongyang makes a serious misjudgment," writes Chen Qin for Caixin.



Malaysia Rejects Cease-Fire Offer

Malaysian security forces killed thirty-one Filipino rebels in Borneo on Thursday, the highest casualty count in a day since nearly 200 members of a Philippine Muslim clan tried to stake a claim to the state of Sabah last month (AP). Malaysia's prime minister rejected a cease-fire call by the clan.


Pakistan launches naval drills with US, China

Berlusconi sentenced to one-year jail term


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