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The Daily TIP: UN Finds that North Korea Has Been Shipping Chemical Weapon Supplies to Syria

Posted by Tip Staff - February 28, 2018

UN Finds that North Korea Has Been Shipping Chemical Weapon Supplies to Syria
Critics Blast UN for Giving Iran’s Justice Minister a Platform at Human Rights Council
Report: Iran Building New Military Base in Syria, Near Damascus
Israeli Researchers Announce Accurate, Non-Invasive Test for Prostate Cancer

UN Finds that North Korea Has Been Shipping Chemical Weapon Supplies to Syria

North Korea has been shipping supplies to Syria that could be used to produce chemical weapons, a United Nations expert panel has found.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that North Korea had sent acid-resistant tiles, valves and thermometers to Syria. The information was revealed in a leaked report on North Korea authored by a group of experts at the UN.

North Korean scientists visited Syria in 2016 and 2017, after the chemical weapons supplies had been sent to the war-torn country. The technicians stayed at military facilities controlled by the regime of Bashar al-Assad and, according to the report.

The illicit shipments are part of a steady stream of weapons-related sales by North Korea to Syria and to the Syrian regime’s patron, Iran, estimated by some experts to be worth several billion dollars a year.

The details come just days after activists in Ghouta reported a suspected poison gas attack. The United States and other Western nations have accused Syria of using chemical weapons against rebel-controlled areas including recently in the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta, which the Syrian regime denies.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) opened an investigation on Sunday into attacks in the enclave to determine whether banned munitions had been used.

The United Nations Security Council has required North Korea since 2006 to cease export of arms and related material as well as items relevant to nuclear, ballistic missiles and other weapons of mass destruction-related programs and to fully abandon all weapons of mass destruction programs.

Critics Blast UN for Giving Iran’s Justice Minister a Platform at Human Rights Council

Protesters gathered outside as Iran's Justice Minister Alireza Avaei, who is under a European Union travel ban for human rights violations, spoke before the United Nations Human Rights Council, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Avaei, who, like his predecessor, Mustafa Pour-Mohammadi, played a role in thousands of summary executions in the 1980s, was sanctioned in 2011 by the European Union for “arbitrary arrests, denials of prisoners’ rights and increase of executions” during the time he served as President of Tehran Judiciary. He was able to attend the council's opening session because Switzerland is not a member state of the EU.

A protest organized by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) had about a hundred people outside the council's building. One of the protesters told VOA News that Avaei was one of those responsible for carrying out the mass killings of political prisoners in 1988 at the behest of Iran's Supreme Leader at the time, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Margot Wallstrom, the Swedish foreign minister and a number of other European officials walked out of the council's hall in protest of Avaei's presence. Currently Iran is holding Ahmed Reza Djalali, an academic who was recently granted Swedish citizenship, on death row.

The United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley blasted the council for allowing Avaei to address it. Having him address the council, Haley said, “discredits” the council “by allowing serial human rights abusers to hijack its work.”

Report: Iran Building New Military Base in Syria, Near Damascus

Fox News reported Wednesday that Iran is building a new military base, eight miles northwest of Damascus.

The new base is similar to one established by the Iranians near the town of al-Kiswah, 9 miles (15 kilometers) southwest of Damascus, which was reportedly hit by Israeli airstrikes last December.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman responded to the report saying: “There’s nothing new under the sun, and there is no need to treat all information in the media as absolute. We are listening and following the events. We will also act in the international realm to achieve everything possible.”

Gen. Joseph L. Votel, Head of the U.S. Central Command, told a House Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday that Iran was “increasing” the number and “quality” of its ballistic missiles it was deploying to the region. He said Iran has “enhanced” its funding to proxy forces in the Middle East since the landmark nuclear agreement in July 2015, including sending missiles, fighters and other arms to Yemen and Syria.

But Votel emphasized that “countering Iran is not one of the coalition’s missions in Syria,” but rather that of “indirectly” countering Iran.

Last week, The New York Times reported the locations of dozens of bases in Syria operated by Iran and its Shia militias. The report concluded that Iran was “redrawing the strategic map of the region.”

(via BICOM)

Israeli Researchers Announce Accurate, Non-Invasive Test for Prostate Cancer

Scientists at Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot, Israel, have reported a breakthrough of successfully detecting prostate cancer cells with high sensitivity using Micromedic Technologies’ CellDetect noninvasive diagnostic test, developed at Kaplan over the past two years.

Current screening tests for prostate cancer deliver a high rate of false positive results (as low as 25% specificity), leading to unnecessary invasive diagnostic tests such as biopsies. In fact, for the past 10 years many experts have discouraged men without symptoms from undergoing an annual prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, commonly used for screening in the United States since 1994.

Trials of CellDetect, a new-generation cytopathological staining platform for accurate cancer detection, demonstrated successful detection of prostate cancer cells in urine samples with 91.3% sensitivity and 75% specificity.

CellDetect previously was proven effective for diagnosing cervical and bladder cancer in multiple clinical studies and it is expected that the technology can be implemented for use in additional cancer detection indications.

Both the cervical and bladder cancer diagnostic products are in initial commercial stages in the United States and Europe, ISRAEL21c was told by biochemist Keren Gueta Milshtein, director of R&D at Micromedic Technologies. For the prostate cancer indication, a blinded study is planned next.

Prof. Dan Leibowitz, the study’s principal investigator, said the results of the CellDetect trial for prostate cancer “are very important for demonstrating the use of a reliable diagnostic tool that will help us in determining whether and when to perform, or avoid a prostate biopsy.”

(via Israel21c)

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