North Korea Urged to Back Down on Nuclear Test

19 Jun

SEOUL, South Korea — Senior American, Japanese and South Korean diplomats warned on Monday that North Korea would face more sanctions if it conducted a nuclear test after its failed rocket launching last month. But, in their first meeting since the launching, they also u“It would be a serious miscalculation and mistake if North Korea worked to engage in a nuclear test,” said Glyn T. Davies, the American special representative on North Korea policy. “If there is a further provocation such as a nuclear test, there will be swift and sure reaction by the international community.”

North Korea’s April 13 rocket launching in defiance of the United States and its allies “sent a signal that they cannot be trusted to follow through on their own undertakings and promises,” Mr. Davies said. Although the North Korean rocket disintegrated shortly after takeoff, the United Nations Security Council condemned it as a test of long-range missile technology in violation of previous resolutions and ordered tighter sanctions.

Mr. Davies spoke to reporters in Seoul after meeting with his counterparts from Washington’s central allies in Northeast Asia: Lim Sung-nam of South Korea and Shinsuke Sugiyama of Japan. The allies shared the analysis on North Korea’s possible future decisions and vowed to take “united and coordinated actions and responses” against further provocations, Mr. Sugiyama said.

But the three envoys also reminded North Korea that there could be what Mr. Davies called “a different future” if it begins to reverse its missile and nuclear weapons programs. “That engagement aspect remains open,” Mr. Davies said. “Words are no longer, quite frankly, interesting to us. What we want to see is actions from North Korea.”

He planned to fly to Beijing on Tuesday for talks with Wu Dawei, China’s chief nuclear envoy on North Korea. Recent satellite imagery indicated resumed activities in the North’s nuclear test site, prompting analysts to warn that the country might be preparing for its third underground nuclear test to regain some of the leverage it lost when its rocket launching failed.

North Korea has also resumed building work for a new experimental nuclear reactor that analysts say is a cover for its nuclear weapons program. rged the North to back down.


Satellite Images Show More Work at North Korean Nuclear Site

19 Jun

SEOUL, South Korea — North Koreawarned on Tuesday that it would have to take “countermeasures” if the United States insisted on sanctions, while the latest satellite imagery

The warning came a day after Glyn T. Davies, the top United States envoy on North Korea, said that the North would face more sanctions should it conduct a nuclear test. The Group of 8 nations issued a similar warning last week amid concerns that the North’s new leadership headed by Kim Jong-un might attempt a nuclear test to boost its standing at home and regain some of the leverage it lost when a rocket failed to put a satellite into orbit in April.

Washington condemned the rocket launching, calling it a test of long-range missile technology and a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. The Council ordered the tightening of sanctions.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said his government “did not envisage such a military measure as a nuclear test” when it was preparing for the satellite launching. But the North said it will continue to bolster its nuclear weapons program as long as Washington remains “hostile.”

“If the U.S. persists in its moves to ratchet up sanctions and pressure upon us despite our peace-loving efforts, we will be left with no option but to take countermeasures for self-defense,” the spokesman was quoted as saying by the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

Tuesday’s comments from Pyongyang conformed with its tactics of using nuclear threats to draw Washington to the negotiating table or accusing the United States of raising tensions as a way of justifying its actions, such as a possible nuclear test.

“I don’t know that it adds or detracts from what we already know about the North Korean view about what’s happening,” Mr. Davies said from Beijing, where he was meeting with Chinese officials about North Korea, The Associated Press reported.

Earlier Tuesday, James Hardy, an analyst at IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly said that images taken by two satellite companies, DigitalGlobe and GeoEye, in the past month showed more earth being removed from a tunnel at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in North Korea’s northeast.

North Korea detonated nuclear devices underground at Punggye-ri in 2006 and 2009. In recent weeks, South Korean intelligence officials and United States analysts have reported increased activities around a newly dug tunnel, where it is expected that a nuclear test would take place should the Pyongyang leadership make the political decision to go ahead with one.

Recent satellite imagery of the North’s main nuclear complex at Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang, showed that the country has also resumed construction on a nuclear reactor that analysts say is part of the country’s efforts to secure fuel for nuclear bombs.

Also Tuesday, an analysis posted on 38 North, a Web site run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, said that the construction of new North Korean facilities designed to support the launchings of rockets bigger than the one tested in April was making rapid progress.

Citing satellite photos from April 29, it said that a new launching facility under construction since last summer at Musudan-ri on the country’s northeast coast was bigger than an old facility in the same area that was used to launch rockets in 1998, 2006 and 2009. It also looked bigger than a newly built launching pad in Tongchang-ri near the country’s northwestern tip, where the Unha-3 rocket took off in April.

All those rockets failed to complete their designed flights, indicating that North Korea still had a long way to go before mastering the technology needed to deliver a warhead on intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Since the failure of the launching in April, North Korea has said that it will continue to test its rockets. It said its rockets program was designed to put satellites into orbit for peaceful purposes.

At the current pace of construction, the new Musudan-ri facility should be operational by 2016 or 2017, according to 38 North.

of the country’s nuclear test site suggested heightened preparations for a possible underground nuclear test.

U.S. General in South Korea to Be Replaced After Spy Report

19 Jun

SEOUL, South Korea — The Pentagon announced the replacement of the commander of United States Special Operations in South Korea after a news media report quoted him as saying that American and South Korean troops had been parachuting into North Korea on spy mThe American military in Seoul said Brig. Gen. Neil H. Tolley’s departure from the job he held since October 2010 had nothing to do with the media report.

“The announcement by D.O.D. had been planned for some time and is a normal part of the general officer assignment process,” said a spokesman, Col. Jonathan Withington, “The change of command is still some months away, probably in the fall.”

The Korean Peninsula remains technically at war after fighting in the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce. Sending soldiers to the North would violate that cease-fire.

Pentagon officials have repeatedly said that there are no American military personnel on the ground in North Korea, and that the bulk of clandestine espionage in such hard-to-penetrate countries is generally carried out by an array of intelligence agencies.

Last week, The Diplomat, a Japan-based foreign affairs magazine, quoted General Tolley as telling a defense industry conference in Tampa, Fla., on May 22 that American and South Korean soldiers had been dropped behind North Korean lines to spy on the country’s vast network of underground military facilities.

“The entire tunnel infrastructure is hidden from our satellites,” he was quoted as saying. “So we send [Republic of Korea] soldiers and U.S. soldiers to the North to do special reconnaissance.” The United States Defense Department and the American military in South Korea denied the report. In a statement, they said it had “taken great liberal license with his comments and taken him completely out of context.”

“Quotes have been made up and attributed to him,” their statement said. In a later “clarification statement,” however, General Tolley said, “After further review of the reporting, I feel I was accurately quoted.”

“I should have been clearer,” he said, adding that he had been trying to “provide some context for potential technical solutions.”

“In my attempt to explain where technology could help us, I spoke in the present tense,” he said. He left “the opportunity for some in the audience to draw the wrong conclusions,” he added.

“At no time have we sent Special Operations forces into North Korea,” he said.

A Pentagon news release last Friday on general officer assignments stated that General Tolley was being replaced by Brig. Gen. Eric P. Wendt, deputy commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. issions, a statement denied by Washington and the government in Seoul.

Martell appointed to head up IHG operations in south west Asia

18 Jun

InterContinental Hotels Group has appointed Douglas Martell to the role of vice president operations, south-west Asia, effective from mid-September 2012.

He succeeds Chris Moloney, who is retiring after 30 years with the company.

As vice president operations, south-west Asia, Martell will be responsible for the overall operations of the company across India, Bangladesh and Nepal, reporting to Pascal Gauvin, chief operating officer, India, Middle East & Africa.

He has been with IHG since 2001, during which time he has held various operational roles across Australia, Japan and Greater China.

His most recent role has been vice president food & beverage and operations for the company’s Greater China region, based in Shanghai.

Chris Moloney joined IHG in 1983 and has been based in Delhi for nearly two years.

Gauvin said: “Chris has made a lasting impact on the company and we have truly valued his leadership over the years.

“During his 30 years with IHG he has expertly combined being a first class operator, delivering strong performance, with growing and developing the next generation of leaders.

“His contribution over the years has been invaluable and we wish him an enjoyable retirement.

“In Douglas we have a leader with great international experience and a strong focus on opening and operating hotels in fast growing markets.

“We are very pleased Douglas will be coming to the region to lead the team.”

IHG has 13 open hotels across ten cities in South West Asia, operating under the InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn brands.

The company has a further 47 hotels in the region’s development pipeline, due to open over the next three to five years, including the first Holiday Inn Express in the region, opening later this year in Ahmedabad.


VisitBritain reveals record arrivals for April

18 Jun

VisitBritain has released the results of the International Passenger Survey for April 2012 revealing a healthy increase in both the volume and value of inbound tourism with same period of 2011.

A total of 2.9 million people arrived from overseas during the month, spending some £1.4 billion.

This represents an increase of ten per cent on both figures.

Holiday visits were also up by five per cent in April, continuing a recent trend for setting new records.

The 1.2 million holiday arrivals, excluding business travel, in April means there have been 3.3 million holiday visits so far this year.

This is seven per cent higher than at the same point in 2011.

Commenting on the April IPS figures, Patricia Yates, director of strategy & communications at VisitBritain said: “The first few months of the year are traditionally a quiet period for visits to the UK, so to see a record month like this with an increase of ten per cent in both visits and spend is encouraging.

“Our £25 million GREAT image campaign has been running in key inbound markets around the world since February.

“That aims to entice a greater number of people to choose Britain for their next holiday and with the London 2012 Games on our horizons, we hope that these positive April figures are an early indication that our message is getting through.

“The only place to be in 2012 is here in the UK and the warmest of welcomes awaits international visitors coming here to join in all the wonderful celebrations that are taking place


18 Jun

Qatar Airways has enhanced its operations with the acquisition of comprehensive aircraft recovery equipment – the first airline in the world to own the complete state-of-the-art kit.

There are just 11 complete kits globally, but parts within each kit are owned separately by individual airlines and airports worldwide.

The full equipment is the first of its kind anywhere in the world.

The Qatar Airways aircraft recovery kit is transportable and capable of recovering the world’s largest passenger aircraft, Airbus A380, from incident sites anywhere in the world, in addition to any other aircraft types.

At an investment of US$3.2 million, the equipment enables the airline’s Doha hub to be capable of recovering equipment parts of any aircraft type following an incident which renders an aircraft non operational.

Typical practice in the aviation industry calls for airline and airport operators to complete due diligence in removing an aircraft from a location where it has been damaged as a result of an accident.

Qatar Airways recently tested each aspect of its newly-purchased equipment in an exercise that was a joint effort carried out by the airline, Qatar Aviation Services, Doha International Airport and observed by Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority and Qatari Air Force.

Qatar Airways employs a dedicated team fully trained on the equipment, with an annual test exercise mandatory. Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker said: “When we first looked to purchase a full end-to-end aircraft recovery kit, we evaluated what benefits the equipment would bring not only to Qatar Airways and Doha International Airport, but rather as an investment for the industry as a whole.

“Obtaining the equipment, fully training an entire team on utilisation and conducting exercises, is a priority for the airline and also a commitment to our passengers globally.”

The capability to conduct aircraft recovery implementation is a requirement by airports worldwide. The equipment acquisition boosts the capabilities of Qatar Airways’ quick application in an emergency response scenario.

Developed by ResQtec, an industry authority on the highly specialised equipment, any airline requiring recovery service anywhere worldwide can benefit from the state-of-the-art recovery service owned by Qatar Airways, which is fully deployable anywhere in the world. The Doha-based comprehensive kit is the exclusive one in the world and is capable of recovering salvageable, disabled aircraft in the region or anywhere in the world.

The recovery equipment acquisition also enables Qatar Airways to join the International Airlines Technical Pool (IATP), an organisation backed by industry body, International Air Transport Association.

Le Méridien Piccadilly unveils new Terrace Grill & Bar

18 Jun

Le Méridien Piccadilly has unveiled the new Terrace Grill & Bar,- a modern British meat and seafood grill and classic gin bar.

With a unique location overlooking Piccadilly, the Terrace Grill & Bar focuses on British meat, game, poultry and fish with a classic destination gin bar forming the centrepiece of the restaurant.

Formerly The Terrace at Le Méridien Piccadilly, the Terrace Grill & Bar has undergone a complete refresh with interiors designed by Anita Rosato Interior Design.

Anita Rosato was also responsible for the redesign of the hotel’s lobby and chic coffee-to-cocktails bar, Longitude 0˚8’, in 2010.

Split into two levels, with the gin lounge on the upper level and the grill concept on the lower level, mood lighting, table-top settings and contemporary décor combine to create a modern and sophisticated bar with a strong British theme.

Considered an emerging young talent in the culinary world, the Terrace kitchen is overseen by acclaimed Chef de Cuisine, Michael Dutnall. Le Méridien Piccadilly’s general manager, Oscar del Campo said: “I am thrilled that the Terrace Grill & Bar is championing great British produce and traditional cuisine.

“We are sure that hotel guests and locals alike will appreciate the fantastic combination of a dedicated gin bar with dishes showcasing some of Britain’s finest meat, poultry and seafood served in a setting overlooking one of London’s most iconic thoroughfares, Piccadilly.”

Sourcing meat only from within the UK, the Terrace Grill & Bar’s starters will include classic British favourites such as cured beef with horseradish jelly; pork belly with apple compote and slow-cooked duck leg.

Main courses will range from Ginger Pig Longhorn beef, lamb cutlets and steamed seabass with mussels, to grilled native lobster and whole roast Packington chicken. Desserts include Knickerbocker glory, bread and butter pudding, Bakewell tarts and sherry trifle, further demonstrating Chef Dutnall’s commitment to serving genuine British food in the Terrace.

On the upper lounge level, perfectly prepared gin and tonic with bitters, classic and contemporary gin cocktails and bar food such as steak sandwiches, grilled chicken Caesar salad and premium Red Poll beef burgers, will be served.

With a large selection of British gin, including all London distilled gins and many international gins, such as Citadelle, Gin Mare, Junipero and Bulldog, the Terrace Grill & Bar is set to become London’s premier destination gin bar.

For more information on the Terrace Grill & Bar or to reserve a table, call 0207 851 3085 or visit the official website.