North Korea Threat — A new Pentagon report reveals that North Korea’s continual development of its nuclear weapons program could bring it closer to reaching the U.S. with an atomic weapon, notes Reuters. Furthermore, according to the report, North Korea’s attempts to develop a nuclear arsenal, sell weapons technology to other countries and provocative behavior are Washington‘s greatest security challenges in the Asia Pacific region. “North Korea will move closer to this goal, as well as increase the threat it poses to U.S. forces and allies in the region, if it continues testing and devoting scarce regime resources to these programs,” said the document.
Egypt‘s Birthrate — The New York Times reports that although Egypt’s birthrate has surged to a 20-year high in 2012, the government remains silent on the issue. Last year, 2.6 million babies were born in Egypt, with the birthrate reaching 32 for every 1,000 people. The ousted ex-president Hosni Mubarak focused on two-child families and contraception but the current administration lacks a policy on family planning, potentially increasing the risk of overpopulation, notes the daily. “For the moment,” writes the Times, “grand development plans that could alleviate overpopulation have taken a back seat as the beleaguered government focuses on keeping the lights on and feeding its citizens.”
Syria Conflict – Following the U.S. government’s announcement that it is rethinking its opposition to arming rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, the British Defense Secretary has said Britain has not ruled out the option of arming the rebels, reports the Independent. Philip Hammond said the British government may decide to take stronger action after the European arms embargo on Syria expires at the end of May. But Hammond said Britain would need “incontrovertible” evidence of the use of chemical weapons by Assad’s forces before taking action. He also said such a response would ideally be taken through the United Nations Security Council, writes the Independent.
Japan Nuclear Project – Japan is set to build its first overseas nuclear plant since the Fukushima meltdown of 2011, reports Bloomberg Businessweek. A $22 billion, joint Japanese-French deal to build Turkey’s second nuclear plant is expected to be signed-off on Friday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Turkey. The Fukushima disaster was seen as a huge setback for Japan’s efforts to export its nuclear technology to foreign markets.
China’s Mystery Meat – Chinese police have arrested dozens of suspects accused of selling rat, fox and mink flesh as mutton, the country’s Ministry of Public Security has said, in an announcement aimed at quelling public fears over a string of food safety scandals, reports the New York Times. In a statement, the ministry said the meat had been doused in pigment, gelatin and nitrates to disguise its true origin, and sold in Shanghai and adjacent Jiangsu Province for about $1.6 million. The arrests came amid an operation which has seen over 900 people arrested since January for selling fake or tainted meat products. China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang has said that tackling food safety — a major grievance among Chinese — is a key priority for the government, writes the Times.