Night Watch

North Korea: Japanese and South Korea press reported North Korea launched two ballistic missiles early Sunday. Both traveled about 500 kilometers in a northeastern direction before falling into the Sea of Japan, the Japanese Defense Ministry said.

Japan immediately lodged a protest with North Korea via the Japanese Embassy in Beijing after the launch of the missiles, believed to have taken place at around 1:20 a.m. from the Kaesong area, according to Japanese press. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe criticized Pyongyang for taking such action, saying it violated UN resolutions.

Comment: South Korean analysts judged that the two missiles launched today were Scud variants. North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles - also probably Scuds -- toward the Sea of Japan early Wednesday.

Afghanistan: Speaking at a news conference broadcast live on Afghan private Tolo News TV and other mainstream TV channels on 12 July, US Secretary of State Kerry said the both candidates, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, agreed to a complete audit of votes.

"Every single ballot that was cast will be audited hundred per cent," Kerry said. The process of audit is to start in Kabul within the next 24 hours. He also said that Western forces would help transfer the ballot boxes from the provinces to Kabul.

Dr. Abdullah said that he and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai achieved an agreement on "extensive and comprehensive auditing of all ballot papers cast in the second round of the presidential elections." He said: "Today, I want to give assurances to our people that we have reached a technical and political agreement."

Comment: Some news outlets have described the agreement as a recount. That is not what has been agreed. The agreement stops the escalation towards violent clashes for a time. Underlying issues are not solved and hinge on the outcome of the audit, for which there is no target date.

Iraq: For the record. Today's parliament session featured a full quorum, but nothing else. No agreement was reached on the nominees proposed for the posts of the parliament speaker and his two deputies. Parliament adjourned until 15 July.


Night Watch

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