July 30, 2017

From Washington, this is VOA news. Hello, I'm Steve Miller.

Pakistani opposition party leader Imran Khan on Saturday derided ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's choice of his brother to eventually succeed him, comparing the country's tradition of political dynasties as "a form of monarchy."

"The reason why democracy came in was because you wanted leadership on merit. You know people came through a process to become a leader. In monarchy, it's hereditary, it's through blood."

Sharif on Saturday announced plans for the ruling PML-N party to nominate his brother, Shahbaz, as the country's new leader after an interim period with a caretaker prime minister.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un claimed his country possesses missiles that could strike the mainland United States.

Analysts estimate Friday's missile test demonstrated a theoretical distance of at least 10,000 kilometers.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said she spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida to discuss an appropriate response.

As Islamic State militants continue to lose territory in their declared caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria, officials and analysts are expressing concern that al-Qaeda is making efforts to turn those losses into gains for itself.

Joshua Geltzer, a former senior director for counterterrorism at the U.S. National Security Council, says, "Al-Qaeda in Syria is using opportunities to seize additional safe havens, to integrate itself into parts of the local population, parts of other forces, and bumping into other forces as well."

Al-Qaeda has been largely eclipsed by Islamic State in recent years.

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Securing petrochemical plants and keeping chemicals out of the hands of terrorists are the topics of discussion at a recent Chemical Sector Security Summit in Houston, Texas. VOA's Elizabeth Lee reports.

"Houston, here in Texas, is the, you know, in many ways, the center of the petrochemical industry universe in the United States."

Dave Wolf of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security says Houston's economic engine is also a security risk.

"We see terrorists globally continuing to seek out and actually use chemicals of this sort."

Wolf says the attack at the Brussels airport and metro station last year is an example of terrorists acquiring chemicals to harm people.

Security experts say meeting such as this of key players in the chemical industry are crucial to share best practices and build a global culture of chemical security.

Elizabeth Lee, VOA news.

The inspector-general of Australian defense force with the help of a respective Supreme Court judge in the state of New South Wales is looking into allegations an Australian Special Forces soldier shot dead a man in Afghanistan then planted a firearm on his body to make it look like the trooper had acted in self-defense.

Sergeant Kevin Frost described to Australian television his account of an unlawful execution of a prisoner of war.

"The particular incident that I was involved in resulted in the POW that I had captured actually being executed, murdered. Now, I cannot remember if he cut the cuffs off first, or he cut the cuffs off after he shot him. That is one point I cannot remember there because I was not looking. I did not want to look. I turned around and the guy was dead. He had been shot through the forehead."

The inquiry can compel witnesses to give evidence and has the power to refer cases to other law enforcement and government agencies.

The U.S. Navy has responded to a report by Iran's official news agency that a U.S. aircraft carrier fired a warning shot during an "unprofessional" confrontation with Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf on Friday.

The Navy, however, describes the encounter "as safe and professional."

The incident comes after a U.S. naval patrol boat fired warning shots Tuesday near an Iranian vessel that American sailors said came dangerously close to them.

After 24 days at sea and a journey spanning more than 10,000 kilometers, the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica has set a new record for the earliest transit of the fabled Northwest Passage.

The once-forbidding route through the Arctic, linking the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans, has been opening up sooner and for a longer period each summer due to climate change.

For end at coverage to these stories and more, visit voanews.com. I'm Steve Miller in Washington.

That's the latest world news from VOA.