Here is CurrentHow’s Briefing™ for the 22nd of March, 2017 :-
1. Electronics flight ban by US, UK was triggered by IS threat :-
The United States and Britain on Tuesday banned larger electronic devices from the passenger cabin on flights from some airports in Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa.
An official in the United States’ Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that fresh intelligence indicated Islamic State associates were developing ways to smuggle electronics loaded with explosives on flights headed for the US.
CNN quoted a US official as saying the ban was believed to be related to a threat posed by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP.
American officials warned that extremists are seeking “innovative” ways to attack airliners with smaller explosive devices hidden in consumer electronics bigger than smartphones.
The US has given nine airlines from eight countries until the weekend to tell travellers to America to pack laptops, tablets and portable game consoles in their hold luggage.
No US carriers are affected, but the ban hits passengers on approximately 50 flights per day from the busiest hubs in the Arab world and the three Gulf carriers that recently emerged as giants: Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways.
Britain issued a similar order, applied to direct flights from a shorter list of countries. Other countries are expected to follow suit.
Canadian and French officials are considering imposing the same sort of measures, but Germany, Australia and New Zealand said they were not currently mulling a ban.
“The restrictions are in place due to evaluated intelligence and we think it’s the right thing to do and the right places to do it to secure the safety of the travelling public,” a senior US official said.
US officials would not say how long the ban would last, but the Dubai-based Emirates airline told AFP that it had been instructed to enforce it until at least October 14.
The US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, refused to discuss the “intelligence information” that led the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to issue the order.
But one said concerns had been “heightened by several successful events and attacks on passenger lanes and airports over the last years.”
Reaction from the affected airports’ host governments was generally low-key, and Emirates turned the situation into a light-hearted ad extolling the strengths of its in-flight entertainment, entitled: “Who needs a laptop?”
But one government, Turkey, denounced the order and demanded that it be rescinded or scaled back.
“We particularly emphasise how this will not benefit the passenger and that reverse steps or a softening should be adopted,” Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan told reporters.
2. North Korea tests another missile, fails : South Korean Ministry of Defence :-
A North Korean missile exploded on Wednesday just after it was launched, the US and the South Korean Defense Departments stated in a Joint declaration in Seoul.
The launch attempt was made from near the city of Wonsan, on North Korea’s east coast, the same place from where it launched several intermediate-range missiles last year, all but one of which failed.
“US Pacific Command detected what we assess was a failed North Korean missile launch attempt … in the vicinity of Kalma,” Commander Dave Benham, a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Command, said in a statement, referring to an air field in Wonsan.
“A missile appears to have exploded within seconds of launch,” Benham said, adding that work was being carried out on a more detailed assessment.
A South Korean military official told Reuters the missile appeared to have exploded just after it was launched.
It was not clear what type of missile it was. The South Korean defence ministry said it was conducting analysis to determine further details.
The increasing frequency of the missile tests has fuelled a growing sense of urgency over how to respond to the isolated, unpredictable state.
North Korea launched four ballistic missiles from near its west coast on March 6 and this week conducted a rocket engine test that its leader, Kim Jong Un, said opened “a new birth” of its rocket industry.
The latest launch came as the US envoy for North Korea policy, Joseph Yun, met his South Korean counterpart in Seoul to discuss a response to the North’s weapons programmes.
Just last week US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Japan, South Korea and China and how to handle North Korea was a major issue in his talks.
Speaking in Seoul on Friday, Tillerson said a policy of strategic patience with North Korea had ended and all options, including a military one, were on the table if North Korea threatened South Korean or U.S. forces.
North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests and a series of missile launches since the beginning of last year in defiance of UN resolutions. It is believed to be working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the United States.
US President Donald Trump rebuked Kim on Sunday, saying the North Korean leader was “acting very, very badly”.
A senior US official in Washington told Reuters on Monday that the Trump administration was considering sweeping sanctions as part of a broad review of measures to counter North Korea’s nuclear and missile threat.
The United States is also deploying an advanced missile- defence system in South Korea. But China objects to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, saying its powerful radar can penetrate deep into its territory, undermining its security.
Undaunted by the possibility of even tougher sanctions aimed at cutting North Korea off from the global financial system, a North Korean diplomat said his government would pursue an “acceleration” of its nuclear and missile programmes.
This includes developing a “pre-emptive first strike capability” and an inter-continental ballistic missile, said Choe Myong Nam, deputy ambassador at the DPRK (North Korean) mission to the United Nations in Geneva.
Japan’s Nikkei index and South Korean stocks extended losses slightly after news of a North Korean launch broke but trade was steady overall.
3. US President, Donald Trump will attend NATO summit in Brussels on May 25 :-
US President Donald Trump will attend a summit of leaders of NATO nations on May 25 in Brussels, the White House said on Tuesday.
Trump’s visit will give him an opportunity to press his case for why many NATO allies need to boost defence spending to help spread the cost of the security umbrella.
Trump has made key European allies nervous with his demands that they increase defence spending and his talk of establishing an alliance with Russia to counter Islamic State militants.
“The president looks forward to meeting with his NATO counterparts to reaffirm our strong commitment to NATO, and to discuss issues critical to the alliance, especially allied responsibility-sharing and NATO’s role in the fight against terrorism,” a White House statement said.
Trump will welcome NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to the White House on April 12 to discuss “how to strengthen the alliance to cope with challenges to national and international security,” the statement said.