#Pyongyang rejects biological weapons rumors as it #accuses #US of fabricating pretext for attack

- North Korea has rejected media speculation, fuelled by the US National Security Strategy, that it’s preparing for chemical warfare. Pyongyang accused Washington of fabricating yet another “false pretext” for a surprise attack.  [source]

#Russian lower house ratifies the deal to expand naval base in #Syria ’s #Tartus

-  Russian lawmakers approved an agreement to expand the Tartus naval refueling facility in Syria into a fully-fledged naval base capable of harboring nuclear-powered ships, following the withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria.
The deal was submitted to the lower house of the Russian parliament – the Duma – by the president on December 13.
The agreement will be in force for 49 years, granting the Russian Navy access to territorial waters and various ports of the Syrian Arab Republic. The territory of the facility can be expanded up to 24 hectares, according to Russian Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Pankov, and the base will be able to accept up to 11 ships at once, including nuclear-powered vessels. [source]

#UN #rights chief won’t seek reelection in ‘current #geopolitical context’ as he refuses to ‘bend knee’

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights will not seek a second term in office given the current state of world affairs and disregard for human dignity.
“After reflection, I have decided not to seek a second four-year term,” Zeid Ra’ad Hussein said in the email addressed to his staff, which was seen by Foreign Policy and AFP. “To do so, in the current geopolitical context, might involve bending a knee in supplication; muting a statement of advocacy; lessening the independence and integrity of my voice – which is your voice.” [source]


#UK #spies in developing arsenal of #hacking tools boast of ‘over-achievement’

-  The UK’s largest spy agency, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), has reported it has had “a wide spectrum of successes” in developing a vast array of cyber weapons for offensive purposes.  
Since 2014, the UK has significantly increased its efforts in developing cyber weapons and that is now bearing fruit, the annual report of the UK Intelligence and Security Committee states. [source]

#Chechen #leader says got ‘no order to step on US soil yet’ as he mocks sanctions & #travel ban

-  The head of Russia’s Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, has said that while he is proud to be sanctioned under the Magnitsky Act, the US should search for real human rights abusers at home, “in the White House and the Pentagon.”
Kadyrov seemed flattered to be placed on the US sanctions list alongside four other Russian nationals Wednesday. The Chechen leader said he felt himself a highly distinguished person having received “so many merits from America.” [source]