North Korea raised the stakes in a nuclear standoff yesterday by saying for the first time it had processed fuel rods that could be used to make atomic bombs, but analysts said it was a pre-talks tactic. \nA North Korean Foreign Ministry statement said Pyongyang would continue to boost its nuclear deterrent because the US remained hostile to the North. A vice foreign minister said Pyongyang would not pass on its nuclear capability to others. \n"[North Korea] successfully finished the reprocessing of some 8,000 spent fuel rods," said the statement, published by the official KCNA news agency. \nIt dismissed as groundless reports that more international talks could be held soon to try to end the crisis but, significantly, did not rule them out altogether. \nAnalysts, officials and diplomats said North Korea's comments fitted a familiar pattern used to try to force concessions from the US and put pressure on ally China and, if anything, added strength to the view talks could take place soon. \n"This is what North Korea always does before negotiating," said Jin Canrong, an international relations expert at the People's University in Beijing. "They throw out a few new balls." \nHe said China would insist that the North participate in more six-way talks including Japan, Russia, South Korea and the US. \nSeoul's Foreign Ministry urged the North to refrain from steps that would worsen the situation. \n"The North's announcement was very regrettable," Foreign Ministry spokesman Shin Bong-kil said in a statement. "We are deeply concerned it not only undermines inter-Korean relations and efforts for the peaceful resolution of the nuclear issues but hurts the atmosphere for dialogue set by the previous talks." \nThe North's statement and reported comments by Vice Foreign Minister Choe Su-hon in New York sounded uncompromising. According to China's Xinhua news agency, Choe said in New York his country had a deterrent but would not give its size. \nThe reprocessing, if confirmed, would be a significant development in the North's nuclear program since the rods can provide plutonium to make fissile material and had been sealed under a 1994 agreement with the US. \nDiplomats say it is impossible to verify conclusively whether the rods have been processed.
‘HERO OF THE ERA’: President Tsai Ing-wen expressed deep sadness at Lee’s passing, and told the government to assist his family with all their needs Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) passed away at 7:24pm yesterday at Taipei Veterans General Hospital. He was 97 years old. The hospital stated the cause of death as septic shock and multiple organ failure. Lee had been hospitalized there since February, when he choked on a mouthful of milk at home. He was later diagnosed with pulmonary infiltrates and aspiration pneumonia. The hospital said that Lee had been treated with antibiotics, but that his health had not improved, as his advanced age and diabetes had inhibited his immune system and led to recurring infections. During his hospitalization, Lee underwent daily kidney dialysis, which removed
‘WEAK POSITIVE’: The man arrived in Taiwan in May and was quarantined for two weeks, Chen Shih-chung said, adding that he might be infected a long time ago The government is considering tightening mask-wearing rules again in light of a potential domestic COVID-19 infection, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases, six of which are imported. The other case involves a Belgian engineer who entered Taiwan on May 3 and remained in quarantine until May 17, said Chen, who heads the CECC. Although the source of infection has yet to be identified, the case could end the nation’s record of not having any domestic cases in the previous 110 days. The Belgian, in his 20s, is a technician
RECEIVING TREATMENT: President Tsai Ing-wen, Vice President William Lai and Premier Su Tseng-chang visited former president Lee Teng-hui yesterday morning Taipei Veterans General Hospital yesterday rebutted speculation that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had died a day earlier, saying that he was weak, but receiving treatment. The hospital said the 97-year-old Lee was not in good condition and needed ongoing care, adding that if there are any changes in his condition, it would make those public. The comments came after rumors emerged online on Tuesday that Lee had died after being hospitalized since early February. Soon after the unsubstantiated rumors emerged, reporters started flocking to the hospital seeking confirmation. Lee was admitted to Taipei Veterans General Hospital on Feb. 8 after choking while drinking
THAI CASE UPDATE: Twenty-nine close contacts of the worker have been tested with two types of tests, including 18 dorm mates, with 28 negative results so far Five imported cases of COVID-19, four from the Philippines and one from Hong Kong, were reported yesterday, bringing the total confirmed cases in Taiwan to 467, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. The four returning from the Philippines were on the same flight, and the local health department has identified 15 people who had direct contact with them — including 10 passengers in the two rows in front or behind them, who have been put under 14-day home isolation, and five crew members, who will practice 14-day self-health management, said Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang