North Korea expels nuclear inspectors; no succession plan for Kim Jong-Il; Japanese PM confirmed, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad predicts end of US empire; Zimbabwe deal falters; and more

Top of the Agenda: North Korea Concerns

North Korea expelled international inspectors (Telegraph) from its main nuclear facility and stripped the facility of the seals and security cameras that prevented Pyongyang from reactivating the plant. The Yongbyon site was shut down in February 2007 as Pyongyang agreed to cease its nuclear activity in exchange for foreign aid and diplomatic incentives. Now the regime says it will move ahead with plans to activate the facility (BBC), and will return nuclear materials to the site next week.

The setback on denuclearization comes amid continued speculation over the health of North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-Il, who was reported to have had a stroke by South Korean and U.S. intelligence officials. More recent intelligence reports from Seoul have indicated slight improvements (Canadian Press) in Kim's health following surgery, but analysis of what might happen in a post-Kim North Korea has only intensified. NPR writes that no firm succession plan appears to be in place, and that there is no evidence that one of Kim's three sons, or a different official, is being groomed for the post. The Atlantic says any of Kim's possible successors will likely share much of the leader's reclusive world-view, so talks of regime change are highly premature.


Pacific Rim: Aso Confirmed in Japan

Taro Aso, who previously served as Japan's foreign minister, was confirmed today as prime minister. The Asahi Shimbun notes that one of Japan's houses of parliament voted against Aso and says he faces an uphill battle pushing through meaningful legislation.

CHINA-U.S.: Speaking in New York on Tuesday, China's prime minister Wen Jiabao praised the progress (Xinhua) of Sino-American bilateral relations and called for continued work on the partnership.

 

Elsewhere:

Ahmadinejad speaks at United Nations.

Mbeki resignation leads Zimbabwe deal to falter; ANC infighting continues

This is an excerpt of the CFR.org Daily News Brief. The full version is available on CFR.org.

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