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A group of three Nobel laureates have said that sanctions imposed on North Korea are hampering health and science and should be eased.

They were speaking in Beijing after visiting Pyongyang in what was billed as an attempt to promote dialogue.

International sanctions on North Korea were further tightened in 2016 after the secretive country claimed to have tested a hydrogen bomb and launched a missile into space.

The laureates’ visit came as a rare Workers’ Party congress opened in North Korea, with Kim Jong-un hailing his country’s “great success” in its nuclear advancements.

Photo EPA

Photo EPA

The congress is widely seen as a chance for Kim Jong-un to cement his power within the ruling party.

South Korea urged the foreign delegation not to visit North Korea, fearing it would become a propaganda coup for the North.

“We didn’t come to criticize them,” said Aaron Ciechanover, who won a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2004.

“We really came to converse and to exchange dialogue with students.”

On sanctions, Aaron Ciechanover said “you cannot turn penicillin into a nuclear bomb… You don’t pressurize via making people sicker”.

Foreign visits to North Korea are carefully monitored and public access to information such as the internet strictly limited.

Nobel laureate for medicine Richard Roberts said he was “quite impressed” with what North Korean scientists had achieved despite sanctions.

“This embargo is really hurting the scientists and that’s a great shame,” he said.

The visit was organized by the Vienna-based International Peace Foundation (IPF) and also included Nobel laureate for economics Prof. Finn Kydland, Prince Alfred of Liechtenstein and IPF chairman Uwe Morawetz.

The latest sanctions on North Korea, approved by the UN in March, included export bans on materials used in nuclear and military production as well as restrictions on luxury goods and banking.

A UN resolution stressed the new sanctions were not intended to have “adverse humanitarian consequences” for civilians, many of whom face financial hardships and shortages of food.

Nobel Prize winner Tim Hunt, who said that scientists should work in gender-segregated labs, has resigned from his position as honorary professor at University College London (UCL).

Sir Tim Hunt made comments about the “trouble with girls” in science because they cause men to fall in love with them.

UCL said Tim Hunt – a Royal Society fellow – had resigned from his position within its faculty of life sciences.

Tim Hunt, 72, also said at a conference in South Korea that women in labs “cry” when criticized and “fall in love” with male counterparts.Nobel Prize winner Tim Hunt resigns from UCL role

A statement from the university read: “UCL can confirm that Sir Tim Hunt FRS has resigned from his position as honorary professor with the UCL faculty of life sciences following comments he made about women in science at the World Conference of Science Journalists on June 9.

“UCL was the first university in England to admit women students on equal terms to men, and the university believes that this outcome is compatible with our commitment to gender equality.”

Tim Hunt – who was awarded the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine in 2001 for his work on how cells divide – reportedly told the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul, South Korea: “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls.

“Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them they cry.”

The British biochemist, who was knighted in 2006, said the remarks were “intended as a light-hearted, ironic comment” but had been “interpreted deadly seriously by my audience”.

Tim Hunt also admitted that he had a reputation for being a “chauvinist”.

Bangladeshi government has said it will take legal action against Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus over what it says are tax irregularities.

The allegations date back to the period when Muhammad Yunus, 73, was the managing director of the micro-finance organization, the Grameen Bank.

Bangladesh’s central bank removed the economist from his position two years ago, saying he was past retirement age.

Muhammad Yunus denies the allegations.

Bangladeshi government will take legal action against Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus over tax irregularities

Bangladeshi government will take legal action against Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus over tax irregularities

His supporters have said the charges – as well as his removal from the Grameen Bank – are politically motivated.

The bulk of the allegations brought against Muhammad Yunus relate to his earnings abroad, including award money and royalties from his books.

The government now says these earnings were received without the necessary permission as he was the head of an institution partially owned by the state.

Bangladesh’s cabinet secretary, Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, told reporters that the cabinet had decided to take action following a report from the country’s tax authority, the National Board of Revenue.

Muhammad Yunus has challenged the allegations against him.

In a statement, the microcredit pioneer said that he has always declared his earnings and was within the law in claiming tax exemption.

Monday’s decision is part of a long-running feud between Muhammad Yunus and the current Awami League-led government that dates back to 2007, when the winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize tried to set up a rival political party.


Liu Hui, brother-in-law of jailed Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, is being held on fraud charges, his lawyer says.

Liu Hui was detained in January over a property dispute, his lawyer Mo Shaoping said, adding that the evidence against him was “insufficient”.

Liu Xiaobo was sentenced in 2009 for helping to draft a manifesto – Charter 08 – calling for political change.

Liu Xiaobo is currently serving 11 years in jail for inciting the subversion of state power

Liu Xiaobo is currently serving 11 years in jail for inciting the subversion of state power

His wife, Liu Xia, has been under house arrest ever since he was awarded the Nobel prize two-and-half years ago.

Confined to her Beijing apartment with no internet or phone access, and limited to weekly visits to family members, Liu Xia has described her house arrest as a painful experience.

Liu Xiaobo is currently serving 11 years in jail for inciting the subversion of state power. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 despite the Chinese government’s fierce opposition.

“[Liu Hui] should face trial soon, within a month,” Mo Shaoping told the AFP news agency.

The lawyer could not confirm whether the charges were connected with the activities of his brother-in-law, but said he had been under constant “surveillance by public security units” in recent months, AFP reports.

Some 134 Nobel laureates and Chinese activists wrote to Xi Jinping, the new head of the Communist Party, in December asking for Liu Xiaobo’s release.