Vienna, Nov 23 (AP/UNB) — The head of the U.N.'s atomic watchdog on Thursday called on North Korea to allow inspectors back into the country to monitor its nuclear program.
Speaking at a board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Director General Yukiya Amano noted that Pyongyang had in September talked about denuclearization measures including the "permanent dismantlement of the nuclear facilities in Yongbyon" — a reactor where it produces plutonium.
Amano said there has been activity observed at Yongbyon, but "without access the agency cannot confirm the nature and purpose of these activities."
At a news conference later Thursday, he said he couldn't elaborate on when exactly the activity was observed.
IAEA inspectors were expelled from North Korea in 2009 but Amano said the agency continues to prepare for their possible re-admittance.
"The agency continues to enhance its readiness to play an essential role in verifying (North Korea's) nuclear program if a political agreement is reached among countries concerned," he said. "I again call upon (North Korea) to comply fully with its obligations under relevant resolutions of the U.N. Security Council and of the IAEA board, to cooperate promptly with the agency and to resolve all outstanding issues."
On the other hand, Amano told board members that Iran continues to abide by the deal reached in 2015 with major world powers that aimed at preventing Tehran from building atomic weapons in exchange for economic incentives.
He reiterated the agency's findings in a report distributed to member states earlier this month that "Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action."
The issue has grown more complicated since the U.S. withdrew unilaterally in May from the deal and then re-imposed sanctions. Iran's economy has been struggling ever since and its currency has plummeted in value.
The other signatories to the deal — Germany, Britain, France, Russia and China — are continuing to try to make it work.
Amano stressed that "it is essential that Iran continues to fully implement" its commitments.
In its full report, the IAEA said its inspectors continue to have access to all sites in Iran that it needs to visit and that inspectors confirmed Iran has kept within limits of heavy water and low-enriched uranium stockpiles.
"The agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its safeguards agreement," Amano said. "Evaluations regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran continue."
Bolivia, Nov 23 (AP/UNB) — A Peruvian Airlines Boeing 737 suffered a collapsed landing gear when it arrived at an airport in Bolivia, forcing closure of the runway for 10 hours. Officials say none of the 122 passengers or five crewmembers was hurt.
Officials say that they were unable to move the plane, prompting a 10-hour closure that delayed several other flights into and out of the El Alto airport near the Bolivian capital on Thursday
The plane was arriving on a flight from Cuzco, Peru.
The airline said in a statement that the cause of the incident is under investigation.
Palm Beach, Nov 23(AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump used a Thanksgiving Day call to troops deployed overseas to pat himself on the back and air grievances about the courts, trade and migrants heading to the U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump's call, made from his opulent private Mar-a-Lago club, struck an unusually political tone as he spoke with members of all five branches of the military to wish them happy holidays.
"It's a disgrace," Trump said of judges who have blocked his attempts to overhaul U.S. immigration law, as he linked his efforts to secure the border with military missions overseas.
Trump later threatened to close the U.S. border with Mexico for an undisclosed period of time if his administration determines Mexico has lost "control" on its side.
The call was a uniquely Trump blend of boasting, peppered questions and off-the-cuff observations as his comments veered from venting about slights to praising troops — "You really are our heroes," he said — as club waiters worked to set Thanksgiving dinner tables on the outdoor terrace behind him. And it was yet another show of how Trump has dramatically transformed the presidency, erasing the traditional divisions between domestic policy and military matters and efforts to keep the troops clear of politics.
"You probably see over the news what's happening on our southern border," Trump told one Air Force brigadier general stationed at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, adding: "I don't have to even ask you. I know what you want to do, you want to make sure that you know who we're letting in."
Later, Trump asked a U.S. Coast Guard commander about trade, which he noted was "a very big subject" for him personally.
"We've been taken advantage of for many, many years by bad trade deals," Trump told the commander, who sheepishly replied that, "We don't see any issues in terms of trade right now."
And throughout, Trump was sure to congratulate himself, telling the officers that the country is doing exceptionally well on his watch.
"I hope that you'll take solace in knowing that all of the American families you hold so close to your heart are all doing well," he said. "The nation's doing well economically, better than anybody in the world." He later told reporters "nobody's done more for the military than me."
Indeed, asked what he was thankful for this Thanksgiving, Trump cited his "great family," as well as himself.
"I made a tremendous difference in this country," he said.
But Trump continued to warn about the situation on the southern border as he took questions from reporters, pointing to the caravans of Central American migrants that have been making their way toward the U.S. and warning that, "If we find that it gets to a level where we lose control or people are going to start getting hurt, we're going to close entry into the country for a period of time until we get it under control."
He said he had the authority to do so by executive order and claimed he'd already used it earlier this week. "Two days ago, we closed the border. We actually just closed it, said nobody's coming in because it was just out of control."
By no means did he seal the border with Mexico. Officials did shut down one port of entry, San Ysidro, in California, for several hours early Monday morning to bolster security because of concerns about a potential influx of migrant caravan members. They closed northbound lanes into the U.S. and reopened most of them before the morning rush.
Trump's border threat came days after a federal judge put the administration's attempts to overhaul asylum rules on hold. Courts have also blocked several versions of the president's travel ban as well as his attempt to end a program that allows young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children to live and work in the country.
Trump probably could close the entire southern border by order, at least temporarily, invoking national security powers. But doing so could cause extraordinary damage to bilateral relations as well as to cross-border commerce between the U.S. and Mexico, its third largest trading partner. It would not necessarily stop migrants from coming either; Trump would have to contend with the same asylum laws already vexing his efforts to harden the border.
Among other subjects the president touched on in his question-and-answer session with the press:
—Trump disputed reports the CIA has concluded that Saudi Arabia's crown prince was responsible for journalist Jamal Khashoggi's killing. "The CIA points it both ways," said Trump. "Maybe he did, maybe he didn't."
—Asked who should be held responsible for killing, Trump responded that, "Maybe the world should be held accountable 'cause the world is a vicious place."
—Trump said he'd be interviewing candidates for potential openings in his administration — but wouldn't say for what positions.
"I'm very happy with my Cabinet and the people working for me and for us. ... They're absolute stars." But, he said, "there's always a lot of change. I'll probably be changing a couple."
—Trump would not discount the possibility of a partial government shutdown over lawmakers' refusal to allocate billions of dollars for his promised border wall. "Could there be a shutdown? There certainly could, and it will be about border security, of which the wall is a part," Trump said
—Trump said he'd spoken with his daughter Ivanka following news she'd sent hundreds of emails from a private address while serving as a senior White House adviser. Trump said she was "very innocent" and that situation was very different from the one he's said his 2016 rival Hillary Clinton should be in jail for.
—He defended his acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, calling him "a highly respected person" whom the press had treated nastily.
—He complained about the military's use of new electromagnetic catapult technology instead of steam in the new Navy aircraft carriers, telling a Navy officer that, "unfortunately, you have to be Albert Einstein to really work it properly." The officer rebuffed him. "You sort of have to be Albert Einstein to run the nuclear power plants that we have here as well. But we're doing that very well," he said, advising the president to "go electromagnetic."
Trump later traveled to a nearby Coast Guard station, where he delivered a lunch of plastic-wrapped sandwiches, fruit and chips before spending some time at one of his golf courses.
He and his family capped the day with several hundred dues-paying members and their guests at a Thanksgiving feast in Mar-a-Lago's opulent ballroom that included the usual fixings, along with chilled seafood, Chilean sea bass and braised short ribs.
New York, Nov 23 (AP/UNB) — State Sen. Jose Peralta, a New York lawmaker who was the first Dominican-American elected to the Senate, has died. The Democrat was 47 and nearing the end of nearly two decades in office after losing a primary this fall.
Peralta died Wednesday night at Elmhurst Hospital, spokesman Chris Sosa said. The cause of death has not been determined.
Peralta's wife, Evelyn, told reporters he had felt pressure behind his ears and headaches for a week or more and had seen a doctor, according to local news outlets. But his condition didn't raise alarms until he developed a fever Tuesday and became disoriented and had trouble breathing Wednesday, when he was taken to a hospital, she said.
His wife said the family believes his illness was an infection but is awaiting autopsy results.
"We really don't know what happened," she said. "... He just took a turn for the worst."
Peralta represented parts of Queens in New York's Senate for eight years and served in the state Assembly for eight years before that. As a senator, he was a member of a breakaway Democratic group that, for a time, formed a coalition with Republicans to control the chamber.
News of his death brought an outpouring of sympathy from officials and the soon-to-be-senator who ousted him in September's primary.
"When I met him in 2003, I saw a world of promise for our community," Sen.-elect Jessica Ramos wrote on Twitter. "Though years later we'd disagree on tackling the issues, I know in his heart he loved his community. He was a true public servant."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, called Peralta "a relentless advocate for Queens" who "fought tirelessly to make a difference for others."
State Assembly Speaker and fellow Democrat Carl Heastie recalled Peralta's commitment to public schools, gun safety and immigrant rights.
"His constituents remained his top priority" even after his primary loss, Heastie said in a statement, noting that Peralta was coordinating a flu shot clinic in his district and distributing Thanksgiving turkeys to the needy only days ago.
Peralta started his state political career in 2002, when he was elected to the Assembly. He won a special election in 2010 to the state Senate and was re-elected in four general elections.
He later became a member of the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference, the splinter group that helped maintain Republican control of the chamber. Cuomo brokered a deal earlier this year to reunify Senate Democrats, but six of the IDC's eight former members were soon ousted in party primaries.
Peralta's survivors include his wife and two sons.
New Delhi, Nov 23 (AP/UNB) — For thousands of years, the people of North Sentinel Island have been isolated from the rest of the world.
They use spears and bows and arrows to hunt the animals that roam the small, heavily forested island, and gather plants to eat and to fashion into homes. Their closest neighbors live more than 50 kilometers (30 miles) away. Deeply suspicious of outsiders, they attack anyone who comes through the surf and onto their beaches.
Police say that is what happened last week when a young American, John Allen Chau, was killed by islanders after paying fishermen to take him to the island.
"The Sentinelese want to be left alone," said the anthropologist Anup Kapur.
Scholars believe the Sentinelese migrated from Africa roughly 50,000 years ago, but most details of their lives remain completely unknown.
"We do not even know how many of them are there," said Anvita Abbi, who has spent decades studying the tribal languages of India's Andaman and Nicobar islands. North Sentinel is an outpost of the island chain, which is far closer to Myanmar and Thailand than to mainland India. Estimates on the group's size range from a few dozen to a few hundred.
"What language they speak, how old it is, it's anybody's guess," Abbi said. "Nobody has access to these people."
And, she said, that is how it should be.
"Just for our curiosity, why should we disturb a tribe that has sustained itself for tens of thousands of years?" she asked. "So much is lost: People are lost, language is lost, their peace is lost."
For generations, Indian officials have heavily restricted visits to North Sentinel, with contact limited to rare "gift-giving" encounters, with small teams of officials and scientists leaving coconuts and bananas for the islanders.
Any contact with such isolated people can be dangerous, scholars say, with islanders having no resistance to diseases outsiders carry.
"We have become a very dangerous people," said P.C. Joshi, an anthropology professor at Delhi University. "Even minor influences can kill them."
Because of this, Abbi said scholars who visit isolated peoples are careful to limit their visits to a few hours a day and to stay away even if they have minor coughs or colds.
Many of the island chain's other tribes have been decimated over the past century, lost to disease, intermarriage and migration.
Survival International, an organization that works for the rights of tribal people, said Chau may have been encouraged by recent changes to Indian rules about visiting isolated islands in the Andamans.
While special permissions are still required, visits are now theoretically allowed in some parts of the Andamans where they used to be entirely forbidden.
"The authorities lifted one of the restrictions that had been protecting the Sentinelese tribe's island from foreign tourists, which sent exactly the wrong message, and may have contributed to this terrible event," the group said in a statement.