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NATO secretary general urges South Korea to allow direct arms exports to Ukraine

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday asked South Korea to reconsider its rule on not exporting weapons to countries in conflict so it could help arm Ukraine in repelling Russia’s invasion.

“I urge the Republic of Korea to continue and to step up the specific issue of military support,” he said in a question and answer session after a speech to the Chey Institute for Advanced Studies in Seoul.

“Several NATO allies who had as a policy never to export weapons to countries in conflict have changed that policy now,” Stoltenberg said, citing Germany, Norway and NATO applicant Sweden as those which have changed their arms export policies to help Ukraine.

“After the brutal invasion of Ukraine, these countries changed their policy because they realized that when you are facing a brutal invasion where a big power – Russia – invades another one in a blatant way as we have seen in Ukraine, if we believe in freedom, if we believe in democracy, if we don’t want autocracy and tyranny to win, then they need weapons.

“When the full-fledged invasion happened last year, many countries changed their policy because they realized that the only way to stand up for democracy, to help Ukraine prevail, and to create the conditions for a lasting peace was to deliver military support.”

Military aid for Ukraine received a big boost last week when Germany said it would send 14 of its Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv, while also permitting other countries that possess the Leopards, including Norway, to supply them.

The Leopard 2 is a next generation tank that is both agile and quick, despite being equipped with advanced protective armor and long-range firepower. It is considered among the best in the world and superior to anything Russia has deployed in Ukraine.

In addition to the Leopards, Ukraine is set to receive heavy armor from both the United States, which is sending 31 M1 Abrams tanks, and the United Kingdom, which has pledged 14 Challenger tanks.

Some experts say the South Korean K2 Panther is also in that group of top tanks and could be useful for Ukraine.

But a South Korean presidential decree that enforces the country’s Foreign Trade Act says its exports can only be used for “peaceful purposes” and “shall not affect international peace, safety maintenance, and national security.”

South Korea is also a signatory to the United Nations’ Arms Trade Treaty, ratified in 2014 with the intention of keeping close control on who gets weapons and under what conditions they can be used.

But that doesn’t mean South Korea’s arms industry isn’t seeing a role in Ukraine’s war with Russia.

a look at South Korean weapons production as its President says he wants South Korea to become one of the world’s top four suppliers of armaments. (CNN). MS 18656747
Speeding tanks, booming howitzers, shaking bones: This is how South Korea sells weapons
In December, a US defense official told CNN that Washington intends to buy 100,000 rounds of artillery ammunition from South Korean arms manufacturers to provide to Ukraine.

The rounds will be transferred to Ukraine via the US, allowing Seoul to stick to its public pledge that it would not send lethal aid to the war-torn country.

And one of the biggest military supporters of Ukraine – Poland – signed a major weapons deal with South Korea last year for hundreds of tanks and howizters and dozens of fighter jets.

The deal will enable Poland to replace many of the weapons that Warsaw has sent to Kyiv.

Stoltenberg said Monday that it is imperative that democracies must stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes for Kyiv to win the war.

“Because if if [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin wins, the message to him and other authoritarian leaders will be that they can get what they want with the use of force,” he said. “This would make the world more dangerous and us more vulnerable.”

In addition to the Leopards, Ukraine is set to receive heavy armor from both the United States, which is sending 31 M1 Abrams tanks, and the United Kingdom, which has pledged 14 Challenger tanks.

Some experts say the South Korean K2 Panther is also in that group of top tanks and could be useful for Ukraine.

But a South Korean presidential decree that enforces the country’s Foreign Trade Act says its exports can only be used for “peaceful purposes” and “shall not affect international peace, safety maintenance, and national security.”

South Korea is also a signatory to the United Nations’ Arms Trade Treaty, ratified in 2014 with the intention of keeping close control on who gets weapons and under what conditions they can be used.

But that doesn’t mean South Korea’s arms industry isn’t seeing a role in Ukraine’s war with Russia.

a look at South Korean weapons production as its President says he wants South Korea to become one of the world’s top four suppliers of armaments. (CNN). MS 18656747
Speeding tanks, booming howitzers, shaking bones: This is how South Korea sells weapons
In December, a US defense official told CNN that Washington intends to buy 100,000 rounds of artillery ammunition from South Korean arms manufacturers to provide to Ukraine.

The rounds will be transferred to Ukraine via the US, allowing Seoul to stick to its public pledge that it would not send lethal aid to the war-torn country.

And one of the biggest military supporters of Ukraine – Poland – signed a major weapons deal with South Korea last year for hundreds of tanks and howizters and dozens of fighter jets.

The deal will enable Poland to replace many of the weapons that Warsaw has sent to Kyiv.

Stoltenberg said Monday that it is imperative that democracies must stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes for Kyiv to win the war.

“Because if if [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin wins, the message to him and other authoritarian leaders will be that they can get what they want with the use of force,” he said. “This would make the world more dangerous and us more vulnerable.”

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Public Notices

Japan just found 7,000 islands it didn’t know it had

Japan has recounted its islands – and discovered it has 7,000 more than it previously thought.

Digital mapping by the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (GSI) recently found there to be 14,125 islands in Japanese territory, more than double the figure of 6,852 that has been in official use since a 1987 report by Japan’s Coast Guard.

However, the GSI this week stressed that the new figure reflected advances in surveying technology and the detail of the maps used for the count – it did not change the overall area of land in Japan’s possession.

It said that while there is no international agreement on how to count islands, it had used the same size criterion as the previous survey 35 years ago.

That entailed counting all naturally occurring land areas with a circumference of at least 100 meters (330 feet).

The new number does not include any artificially reclaimed land.

The islands surrounding Japan have been at the heart of several territorial disputes.

Japan lays claim to the Russian-held southern Kuril islands, which Tokyo calls the Northern Territories, a dispute that dates to the end of World War II, when Soviet troops seized them from Japan.

Japan also says it has a historical claim to the uninhabited Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which it currently administers, but China has repeatedly challenged that claim.

Meanwhile, Japan and South Korea remain locked in a more than 70-year dispute over the sovereignty of a group of islets known as Dokdo by Seoul and Takeshima by Tokyo in the Sea of Japan, which Korea calls the East Sea.

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Yosemite National Park to partially reopen after 3-week closure

Yosemite National Park will begin to reopen Saturday with limited access and hours, the US National Park Service has announced. The park remains closed today.

The popular park, nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains, was closed because of a series of damaging storms that have swept across the region in recent weeks.

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Public Notices

Charles and Camilla

Britain’s King Charles III and his wife, Queen Camilla, have been married since 2005. They reportedly met at a polo match in 1970 and became friends when Charles was a prince.

When Charles joined the Royal Navy in 1971, Camilla married cavalry officer Andrew Parker Bowles.

Charles married Diana Spencer in 1981 but then admitted in 1994 that he had been having an extramarital affair with Camilla. Diana confirmed his infidelity and her own the following year.

Camilla got a divorce in 1995, and Charles and Diana divorced in 1996. Camilla all but vanished from public life at the time as public and media support swung behind Diana.

In 1999, Clarence House embarked on a program to reintroduce Camilla to the public with a carefully orchestrated first appearance with Charles outside the Ritz Hotel in London.

Six years later, their decades-long love story culminated in a wedding that had the consent of Charles’ mother, Queen Elizabeth II. Camilla was confirmed as Charles’ official consort and future queen.

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