North Korea: Today North Korea fired about 100 artillery shells off the east coast into the Sea of Japan.
The spokesman for the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said, "North Korea fired off around 100 artillery shells in a northeast direction into the East Sea (Sea of Japan) from a place hundreds of meters away from the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Kosong, Kangwon Province."
"They landed in the sea, some 1 to 8 kilometers north of the Northern Limit Line (NLL)….Some of the shells travelled some 3 kilometers, and others the maximum of 50 kilometers," a JCS officer said. Thus, it is not clear which artillery system or what mix of systems the North tested.
Comment: It is unusual for North Korea to conduct artillery practice off the east coast near the eastward extension of the Northern Limit Line. Artillery practice near the South Korean islands off the west coast is much more common. This appears to be artillery practice for units that get little of it.
Afghanistan: Update. The government in Kabul replaced the police chief for Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan because of his failings in connection with the Taliban seizure of Sangin District. A large Taliban force held the district for a week, but reportedly has withdrawn.
The Foreign Ministry sent notices to 40 countries that the ceremonies for inaugurating the new Afghan President will not take place on 2 August as announced in their invitations. Based on a new plan, the oath-taking ceremony will take place in late August, but the date has not been set.
Comment: As noted previously, this is to be an audit of 8 million votes. That means that a new president cannot be known for quite some time. Late August seems optimistic.
One term of the audit agreement is that the two candidates will form a national unity government after the audit is finished. Today's press indicates the two candidates have different views about the nature and composition of a national unity government. This is another potential break point. Meanwhile, Karzai will remain President. Thus far, he appears to be the main beneficiary of the agreement.
Israel: News services reported that Israeli and Hamas officials are considering seriously an Egyptian plan for a ceasefire at 09:00 local time on 15 July without conditions. The Voice of Israel reported that senior Israeli officials "confirm in principle" reports about an agreement on a cease-fire between Israel and HAMAS based on an Egyptian offer presented to both sides.
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