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US, Japan Seek UN Meeting on North Korea Missile Launches

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  • US, Japan Seek UN Meeting on North Korea Missile Launches

Washington and Tokyo sought Monday an emergency UN Security Council meeting after nuclear-armed North Korea fired a defiant salvo of ballistic missiles toward Japan.

The call came after Pyongyang had earlier launched at least four missiles, with three splashing down in the sea close to key US ally Japan.

The launches present a challenge for US President Donald Trump, who has described North Korea as a “big, big problem” and vowed to deal with the issue “very strongly.”

South Korea said four missiles were fired from Tongchang County in North Pyongan province into the East Sea — its name for the Sea of Japan.

The missiles traveled about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) and reached an altitude of 260 kilometers (160 miles), a spokesman for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Monday’s launches were the latest in a series of test-firings that violate UN resolutions barring Pyongyang from developing missile technology.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said North Korea poses a “very serious threat,” adding the Trump administration was taking steps to “enhance our ability to defend against North Korea’s ballistic missiles.”

Such defenses include the planned deployment to South Korea of a missile-defense system called THAAD.

US Defense Department spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis suggested North Korea had attempted to launch more than four missiles and these were medium-range rockets, not ICBMs.

“There were four that landed. There may be a higher number of launches, but we are not commenting on” that, the Pentagon spokesman said.

Seoul and Washington last week began annual joint military exercises that always infuriate Pyongyang, drawing the North’s military warning of “merciless nuclear counter-action.”

Under leader Kim Jong-Un, Pyongyang wants to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the US mainland — something Trump has vowed would not happen.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said three of the North Korean missiles came down in Tokyo’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) — waters extending 200 nautical miles from its coast.

“This clearly shows North Korea has entered a new stage of threat,” Abe told parliament.

The emergency UN meeting is likely to be scheduled on Wednesday when ambassadors return from a visit to the Lake Chad region in Africa, diplomats said.

America’s ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said on Twitter that the world “won’t allow” North Korea to continue on its “destructive path.”

– ‘Real threats’ –

Pyongyang carried out two nuclear tests and a series of missile launches last year, but Monday was only the second time its devices had entered Japan’s EEZ.

After an emergency meeting of South Korea’s National Security Council, acting president Hwang Kyo-Ahn called the North’s nuclear and missile provocations “immediate and real threats” to his country.

“Considering the North Korean leadership’s brutality and recklessness shown through the murder of Kim Jong-Nam, the results of the North having a nuclear weapon in its hands will be gruesome beyond imagination,” he said.

Seoul has blamed Pyongyang for the killing of the half-brother of the North’s leader by two women using VX nerve agent at Kuala Lumpur International Airport last month.

Hwang called for the “swift deployment” of THAAD, a proposal which has infuriated neighboring China, the North’s key diplomatic protector and main provider of trade and aid.

– ‘Send a message’ –

Monday’s launch came ahead of a trip to Japan, China and South Korea by new US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this month, Dongguk University professor Kim Yong-Hyun noted.

Pyongyang was “trying to send a message early on in Trump’s term that North Korea will not be dragged around by his administration,” he said.

The North is barred under UN resolutions from any use of ballistic missile technology.

But six sets of UN sanctions since Pyongyang’s first nuclear test in 2006 have failed to halt its drive for what it insists are defensive weapons.

Three years ago, then-president Barack Obama ordered the Pentagon to increase cyber attacks against North Korea to try to sabotage its missiles before launch or just as they lift off, The New York Times reported over the weekend.

Several of the North’s devices have failed soon after launch.

Kim Dong-Yup, an analyst at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University, noted that unlike previous launches the three missiles that reached Japan’s EEZ were fired in different directions.

“North Korea may have attempted to show it can strike US bases in Japan simultaneously,” he said.

Seoul and Washington launched their annual Foal Eagle military exercises last week.

North Korea has regularly taken action to protest the drills, such as firing seven ballistic missiles during the exercises last year.

Beijing has become increasingly frustrated with Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile activities, and last month announced a suspension of all coal imports from the North until the end of the year — a crucial source of foreign currency.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

African Union Holds Global Conference to Accelerate African Vaccine Development and Manufacturing Capacity

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African leaders assembled at a global meeting to discuss the status of local pharmaceutical manufacturing on the continent, underscored the need to increase local production of vaccines and therapeutics to achieve greater public-health security.

“The production of vaccines and access to vaccines is an absolute priority,” Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, said Monday in opening remarks at the start of the two-day virtual meeting, convened by the African Union.

The meeting was attended by several African heads of state, health, finance and trade ministers from across the continent, as well as officials from global financial institutions, foundations, pharmaceutical manufacturers, business leaders, and the general public. The African Development Bank was represented by Solomon Quaynor, Vice President Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization.

Although Africa consumes approximately one-quarter of global vaccines by volume, it manufactures less than 1% of its routine vaccines, with almost no outbreak vaccine manufacturing in place. The region lags behind in procuring vaccines amid a global scramble for the medicines among wealthier nations. Thus far, only around 2% of the world’s vaccination against Covid-19 has taken place in Africa.

The need for a new public health order in Africa, which promotes domestic vaccine manufacturing, epidemic preparedness and upgraded healthcare systems to meet the needs of the world’s fastest-growing population, was the conference’s main objective.

The African Union and the Africa CDC said they would continue to work with all stakeholders to identify implementable actions, financing needs and timelines to competitively produce vaccines in Africa.

Quaynor noted that the current undertaking would require immense investment. “Vaccine manufacturing, because of its complexity, is not really an entrepreneurial drive but actually an institutional drive,” he added.

The African Development Bank is working with global and African stakeholders, to articulate a 2030 vision for Africa’s Pharmaceutical Industry in response to several calls received from African Heads of State, who have expressed a strong political will. This vision aligns with its “industrialize Africa” priority strategy.

The vision will build on previous efforts to produce a continental plan of action to boost local African pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, such as the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa adopted in Abuja in January 2005 and the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa (PMPA), prepared by the African Union Commission and the United Nations in 2012, to assist local manufacturers with pharmaceutical production.

Quaynor said Africa could count on the African Development Bank’s support to secure Africa’s health defense system. “Leveraging on our comparative advantages, we will both provide upstream support to governments on the enabling environment, as well as provide financing to private sector and PPPs both indirectly through some of our private equity investee funds and directly through lending, and credit and risk guarantees. We will also use the Africa Investment Forum to bring in all relevant stakeholders and partner DFIs into bankable opportunities…”

The 2030 vision for Africa’s pharmaceutical industry would also work with pharmaceutical industry associations in Africa to create capacity development links between universities and industry in Africa, and work with African scientists in the diaspora, Quaynor said in remarks made on behalf of African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina.

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ITF, Nigerian Air Force, Others, Sign MOU To Advance Research

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The Industrial Training Fund, ITF has signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, and Equipment and Protective Application International Limited to establish the framework that will give room for optimal performance as well as enhance productivity.

The Director General, Industrial Training Fund, Sir Joseph Ari while speaking at the NAF headquarters in Abuja, said the MOU will be pursued with vigour and all the seriousness it deserves so that greater success would be the catalyst that will drive their intentions.

He explained that over the years, ITF had redirected its focus on technical, vocational training and education noting that developed nations are where they are today because of the initiative.

According to him, “even here in Abuja, we have a model of a skills training centre and the model was brought in from the Singaporean experience of the institute for technical education and services of Singapore”.

“We brought a semblance of it here to experience with five trade areas, Mechatronics and Autotronics, Computer Networking, ICT, Facility Technology as well as culinary in both African and Western cuisine is right there in the heart of Abuja in the ITF house, it is like a university”.

“The ITF is well positioned to work hand in hand with the Nigerian Air Force,” he said

The ITF boss added; “I must say that the Chief of Air Staff has a lot of foresight with his men to think about this Memorandum of Understanding because I deed, ITF is where you should be”.

“The ITF came into contact with the Nigerian Air Force even though a lot of the officers of the Air Force might have participated in its programmes in the past and since then I have noticed that NAF has not relented in its efforts to equipped it’s workforce and also upgrade and retrain its people,” Sir Ari added.

He also commended the men and officers of the NAF for their sacrifice in keeping the nation safe.

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal, Oladayo Amao said the Nigerian Air Force has a highly technical Service and technology is the bedrock of all its operations.

Represented by the Chief of Standards and Evaluation, Air Vice Marshal, Olusegun Philip, Amao noted that in line with the focus of the Federal Government in promoting indigenous technology, the Nigerian Air Force has been looking inwards to gradually wean itself of overdependence on foreign technology and to become more innovative and resourceful.

“Therefore, in order to advance the Nigerian Air Force’s Research and Development efforts, we have deemed it necessary to formally collaborate with indigenous organizations through the signing of Memorandum of Understanding,” Amao stated.

“These collaborative efforts provide pedestals to leapfrog capability as well as a repertoire of capabilities that can be harnessed”.

“The collaborative efforts also provide platforms to synergise ideas for innovations that are key to achieving meaningful results to solve the technological challenges we currently face in a cost effective manner,” he said.

The Managing Director, Equipment and Protective Application International Limited, Engineer, Kola Balogun however, assured that the MOU entered would be for the overall economic benefit and development of the nation.

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SERAP Urges FG to Slash Politicians’ Allowances

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Chairman of Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Elias Mbam, to urgently review upward the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for Nigerian Judges, and reduce the remuneration of President Muhammadu Buhari and other political office-holders in order to address the persistent poor treatment of Judges, and improve access of victims of corruption to justice.

The appeal came on the heels of a nationwide industrial action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to press home their demand for financial autonomy for the judicial arm of government, and the federal government silence on the judiciary workers’ strike that has grounded court activities across the country.

In a letter dated April 10, 2021, which was signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said Judges should get all they are reasonably entitled to, and that it is unfair, illegal, unconstitutional, and discriminatory to continue to treat Judges as second-class people, while high-ranking political office holders enjoy lavish salaries and allowances.

SERAP expressed concern that the remuneration and allowances of Judges have fallen substantially behind the average salaries and allowances of political office-holders such as president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as members of the National Assembly.

The letter read in part: “According to our information, the last review of the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for political, public and judicial office holders carried out by RMAFC in 2009 shows huge disparity between the remuneration and allowances of judges and those of political office holders.

“Judges’ work is very considerable but they cannot give their entire time to their judicial duties without the RMAFC reviewing upward their remuneration and allowances, and closing the gap and disparity between the salaries of judges and those of political office holders such as the president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as lawmakers.

“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the RMAFC to comply with our requests.”

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