International News Briefs

North Korea vows to defend Kim Jong-un

North Korea stated during the country’s annual New Year’s message on Jan. 1 that it would defend Kim Jong-il’s young son and successor “unto death”, reported CBC News.

The annual statement, released by the official Korean News Agency, follows the death of long-time leader Kim Jong-il on Dec.17. Before the New Year, North Korea cemented Jong-il’s son, Kim Jong-un, as leader. He was officially appointed as Supreme Commander over the country’s 1.2 million-strong army on Dec. 31.

“Glorify this year 2012 as a year of proud victory, a year when an era of prosperity is unfolding,” the statement said, “The whole party, the entire army and all the people should possess a firm conviction that they will become human bulwarks and human shields in defending Kim Jong-un unto death.”

Iran’s nuclear progress spurs sanctions

Iran sparked tension by announcing a nuclear technology breakthrough and test-firing a new radar-evading medium-range missile in the Gulf at a time when Tehran is trying to avoid sanctions on its oil industry, reported the Globe and Mail.

U.S. President Barack Obama signed a law on Dec. 31 imposing tougher financial sanctions to penalize Iran for a nuclear research program that the West suspects is aimed towards developing nuclear weapons.

Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow Gulf shipping lane through which 40 per cent of the world’s oil flows, if sanctions target its oil exports.

At the same time, Iran signalled on Dec. 31 that it would resume international talks on the nuclear program.

More Grenada police officers charged in death of Canadian man

Three more police officers in Grenada have been charged with manslaughter in the beating death of a Canadian man, reported the Winnipeg Free Press.

According to a police statement, officers Edward Gibson, Shaun Ganness and Ruddy Felix were arrested and charged on Jan. 1 in the beating death of 39-year-old Oscar Bartholomew of Toronto.

Bartholomew was visiting the eastern Caribbean country last week to see family. Relatives have accused a group of officers of beating Bartholomew into a coma on Dec. 26. He later died from his injuries.

The recent arrests bring the total number of suspected police to five.