welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. i'm lewis vaughan jones. our top stories: the biggest—everjoint us—south korean military air force exercise is taking place as washington says the potential for war with north korea is increasing by the day. ahead of monday's brexit negotiations between the prime minister and the eu president, the bbc understands they're close to reaching an agreement, clearing the way for the second phase of talks. cambodia's premier leads prayers for peace and unity at a lavish ceremony days after dissolving the country's main opposition party. all these people have been brought to this, the most symbolically important site in cambodia, for one purpose — to impress on the population that the country is united, despite the destruction of the opposition. and looking to the heavens for the biggest and brightest so—called super moon as it reaches its closest point to earth. president trump's national security
advisor says north korea's nuclear ambitions, pose "the greatest threat to the united states, and to the world". the comments from hr mcmaster came ahead of the largest—everjoint aerial exercises in the region which have got under way between us and south korean airforces. pyongyang has called the drill an "all out provocation". from washington, laura bicker reports. weapons experts have described the latest north korean missile as "a beast" capable of striking the us mainland. there were celebrations in pyongyang — a staged event to declare that north korea is becoming a nuclear nation. this is something the trump administration has said it will not accept. the greatest immediate threat
to the united states, and to the world. speaking at a defence forum, the us national security adviser had this warning. we know china has tremendous coercive economic power over north korea. i mean, you cannot shoot a missile without fuel. so, there are ways to address this problem short of armed conflict. but it is a race because he's getting closer and closer. and, umm, there's not much time left. the us is keeping a show of force in the korean peninsula and stealth fighters have been deployed to the region as part of the largest air exercise ever held with south korea. they've been dubbed as "war games". but a north korean television broadcast described the drills as provocation. the us has made it clear it doesn't want war with north korea but kim jong—un has continued to build missiles and sanctions have
not stopped him. the international committee is running out of diplomatic options. i'm going to urge the pentagon not to send any more dependants to south korea. south korea should be an unaccompanied tour. it's crazy to send spouses and children to south korea, given the provocation of north korea. military experts have warned that a war on the korean peninsula would have devastating consequences and north korea would be utterly destroyed. the hope must be that the threat of action, alongside stringent sanctions, will force the young korean leader to change course. laura bicker, bbc news, washington. earlier, i spoke with jacob shapiro, who is the director of analysis for the intelligence firm, geopolitical futures. i began by asking him about the significance of these exercises.
i think exercises are significant, i don't think this size is. size doesn't really matter. he had massive exercises in august. the important thing is the us isn't giving up its security guarantee to south korea or removing from the peninsula which is the thing that north korea is after. if the scale of the drills don't matter, the north koreans are describing this as deliberate provocation. have they got a point? if you look at it from their perfect, of course. from their perspective, it is surrounded on all sides by enemies, the us has troops in south korea, japan, military assets all over. north korean view the military drills the family as the military drills the family as the us views the missile launchers. this is why you get into this back and forth and had never ending circle of provocation. but how close are we to war? i do think we are
that close. the us is still in the diplomatic phase, right now they are putting more pressure on china and you can see it in some of this lack that the americans are giving to china on economic issues, the trump administration moved forward on that, and most of the officials are in this thing it is china's problem to solve. ultimately they will not be able to solve it and the us will be able to solve it and the us will be faced with the difficult situation and a question to answer. ona situation and a question to answer. on a difficult decision, i do not simply stuck? if they have to launch a pre—emptive strike or accept a north korea with nuclear weapons. this is exactly what the regime in north korea expect. i think they think the us may even strike. the point is all the united states can do would be a limited strike. they could not take up the regime. if you can't do that, this is a regime who has starved people for decades and they will not give up their weapons because china cup of oil or the us
bombs them, unless you can take up the regime they will move forward towards nuclear weapons inexorably. and don't think the united states has the capability or will to go and ta ke has the capability or will to go and take up the regime and take up the capability on the ground. that is the way to that kim jong—un has made. despite all the rhetoric and the big powerful torque coming out of washington, actually what is more likely to happen is a kind of us retreat in the region? in some ways the us has already advocated some responsibility that, you have seen them put more responsible of the on japan, china, but the military drills are so important because as long as they are happening, as long as there are tens of thousands of troops in south korea, squadrons of stealth fighters in south korea, it doesn't matter. the north koreans wa nt to doesn't matter. the north koreans want to push the us off the peninsula and as long as the us guaranteed south korea security, north korea won't get what it wants. that was jacob shapiro speaking to
me in the last hour. let's take a look at some of the other stories making the news. a former egyptian prime minister whose family said he'd disappeared after returning from exile has given a phone interview on egyptian television. ahmed shafik denied speculation that he'd been kidnapped but he said he was now reconsidering his plan to run in next year's presidential elections. the saudi—led coalition has reportedly launched air strikes on yemen's capital in support of the former president ali abdullah saleh. mr saleh had been allied to houthi rebels, but their 3—year rebel alliance appears to have collapsed into what's described as a "street war" in sana'a. new york's metropolitan opera has suspended its long—time music directorjames levine after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. the us opera house said levine would no longer appear at the met this season, and they've hired a former us prosecutor to investigate the accusations. mr levine is reported to have denied wrongdoing. the bbc understands that britain and the european union are close
to reaching an agreement that will clear the way for the second phase of talks on the uk's departure from the bloc. eu officials have told the bbc that deals have now been reached on the bill britain must pay and on citizens' rights. the outstanding issue is the border with ireland. prime minister theresa may travels to brussels on monday for talks with the president of the european commission, jean—claude juncker. here's our political correspondent, alex forsyth. when these two meet, it will take more than polite greetings. his verdict will be crucial in deciding if they have edged close enough together on key issues for eu leaders to agree to start talking trade when they meet later this month. meanwhile, a handful of brexit—backing conservative mps have increased the pressure on the prime minister, signing a letter setting out their demands, including a promise that the european court ofjustice will cease to have any jurisdiction over the uk.
for some, this goes to the heart of the brexit debate. the european court ofjustice is there to rule on all matters to do with the european union. we will have left the european union, and therefore, the simple point is that we should not therefore have to look to the european court ofjustice or to havejudgements made by them bound directly back here into the uk. when it comes to this court, theresa may has signalled it will have a role during any transition, a possible 2—year period to prepare for new systems. but some brexiteers fear there could be compromise beyond that as the eu wants it to keep overseeing citizens' rights. one cabinet minister said there'd have to be cooperation between legal insisted systems, but european law wouldn't hold sway over british law, and he had a warning for some mps. the supreme court will decide what the law of the country is in this country, as voted on by parliament. that is the big thing that
theresa may has achieved. and i think there's an even bigger point here. the choice we face now is not between this brexit or that brexit. if we don't back theresa may, we will have no brexit. but there are competing views over several aspects of these talks. the island of ireland will be where the uk meets the eu. all agree there should be no hard border. the irish government is not being unreasonable here. we're simply asking questions that need more credible answers before we can allow the process to move onto phase two. here, the government said they have made headway on the irish border, as well as citizens' rights and the financial settlement, but say nothing's agreed until everything's agreed. there are still outstanding issues in these key areas in which the eu had wanted progress before agreeing to talk trade. the meeting is a crucial step in deciding whether or not enough has been done.
the outcome is vital, but it's still far from certain. alex forsyth, bbc news, westminster. rainey enters a new period of political turmoil this week as the government tried to push a series of controversial justice and government tried to push a series of controversialjustice and tax reforms through parliament. registers have returned to the streets of the capital and other cities determined to force the government to back down again. and repeat the success of similar protest earlier this year. the anti—government protesters are back in bucharest‘s victory square. the issue is the same. the government alleges the country's anti—corruption agency is too big for its boots and it wants to cut it down to size. these people have come out to defend it. it's going to take more than that to make them change their mind. but i'm sure we can,
but we have to get out of the house and into the streets, that's all we have to do. all at once. the protests are inspired by a loose alliance of groups linked on social media. corruption is the reason that people have died, that our children don't have good schools that our public money, our public budget, has been going to private pockets and this country, instead of growing, is going down. on december i for celebrations for romania's national day, government officials stayed away, angry at the support the president has given to the current justice system. the government accuses the president, the prosecutors and the protesters forming what they call a parallel state. all chant
both sides in this dispute say there are defending romania's constitutional order from attack. romanians have a habit of protesting just when the weather turns cold. massive crowds in the square and others in february this year forced the government to back down. the question now is whether they can do it again. stay with us on bbc news. still to come: over the moon — sky—watchers celebrate as the december supermoon graces the skies. it's quite clear that the worst victims of this disaster are the poor people living in the slums which have sprung up around the factory. i am feeling so helpless, that the childrens are dying in front of me and i can't do anything. charles manson is the mystical
leader of the hippy cult suspected of killing sharon tate and at least six other people in los angeles. at 11am this morning, just half a metre of rock separated britain from continental europe. it took the drills just a few moments to cut through the final obstacle. then philippe cozette, a minerfrom calais, was shaking hands with and exchanging flags with robert fagg, his opposite number from dover. this is bbc news. the latest headlines: as the biggest—ever us—south korean joint military air force exercise begins, washington says the potential for war with north korea is increasing by the day.
there is growing optimism that britain and the european union are close to agreeing a deal on the first phase of the brexit negotiations. talks are continuing ahead of a visit to brussels by prime minister theresa may. cambodia's democracy has taken several steps backward recently, as the main opposition party was banned, its leaderjailed, and most of its leading politicians driven into exile. long—serving prime minister hun sen has also accused the united states of conspiring to overthrow him. over the weekend, he ordered a lavish buddhist ceremony at angkor wat, the seat of cambodia's ancient kings, to pray, he said, for unity and peace. our south east asia correspondent jonathan head was there. trappings fit for a modern—day king. the man who has ruled cambodia for 32 years chose his country's
most famous landmark as a backdrop for this elaborate prayer ceremony. confusing the tourists, who found their expected route into angkor wat no longer open. at 65 years old, hun sen is visibly slower than he was, but his hold on power is now complete, having just outlawed the only popular opposition party. these prayers, he said, were for peace and unity. by wrapping himself in the mantle of religion, though, and the aura of cambodia's greatest historic era, hun sen hopes to demonstrate that his legitimacy is secure. but this was a largely organised crowd. many of them schoolchildren. it was not a spontaneous show of support. these girls had no idea why the ceremony was being held. they had been told to come by their teacher.
all of these people have been brought to this, the most symbolically important site in cambodia, for one purpose. and that is to impress upon the rest of the population that the country is united, despite the distraction of the opposition. but the fact that the prime minister has gone to all of this trouble suggests he is not so sure. the party he outlawed has been doing well enough in recent elections to pose a serious threat. now, its leaders are either injail or in exile. they believe that his drastic move against them actually shows the wily cambodian strongman is worried. if he were sure of himself, he would call us back and say, let's compete fairly, freely, justly, inclusively. so you think he's lost his confidence?
he's haunted by the need to hang onto power. hun sen can command the finest performances, the most spectacular settings, and the loyalty of an inner circle, which with him has grown very wealthy. but for how long? within minutes of his departure, it was as if he had never been. people were buying souvenirs, and the tourists, who more than anything else have enriched this part of cambodia, were back enjoying the wonders of this ancient temple. jonathan head, bbc news, angkor wat. since the good friday agreement was signed in 1998, ending 30 years of conflict in northern ireland, relationships between catholics and protestants have greatly improved in many respects. however, in some places, peace walls are still in use to separate the two communities. so, welcome to belfast. thanks.
and, umm...my name's tom, and i'll bring you around today. the tour that we do in the black taxis is all about the trouble period, that we had from 1969 until 1998. belfast looks like a chess board. instead of black and white squares, on a chess board, we have catholic and protestant areas everywhere. what is the difference between these two communities? it may have been about religion 500 years ago, but it's not about religion anymore. it's all about british identity and irish identity. those gates were locked in 1969, and they've never opened since. there are more than 100 walls in northern ireland separating some catholic and protestant areas. most of them have gates that close every night and at the weekend. some of the walls are 15 metres high, and mainly located in economically deprived areas. the northern irish government hopes to take the walls down by 2023, but only if tensions are reduced.
donna is protestant and seamus catholic, but they work in the same organisation to bring the communities together. they do have needs, and should it be education, should it social, should it be employment. and you can'tjust go in and magically fix it, but what you can do is start a process and work in partnership. the thing about peace walls is they can impact one street or one road. and it's only when the circumstances are right for those directly impacted that you see change. a lot of people in these communities have suffered a lot. sheamus is one of them. he lost one of his friends in 1994. paul was shot dead, and shortly after that attack, then plans were put in place for this substantial structure to be put up, but the nametag attached to it was the million—brick wall.
the fact that the peace walls and peace lines are still standing in between communities shows that the tensions still exists and the peace is uneasy. many say brexit is bringing new uncertainty. brexit has thrown a spanner in the works, because the majority of people in northern ireland voted to remain. but the problem we have is we're landlocked with the republic of ireland, so what's going to happen now? community workers worry about getting cut off from eu funding, and how it might affect the peace process. i think a lot of people are concerned that brexit will bring enormous difficulty. we currently have an internationally binding agreement within the good friday agreement. how is that supposed to work, and develop what is supposed to be a connected peace process, a connected system ? an australian mp has proposed to his boyfriend in parliament.
tim wilson was speaking as a bill to legalise gay marriage entered the final stage of the legislative process. his partner of nine years, ryan bolger, who was sitting in the gallery, answered yes, prompting applause across the house. australia's parliament is debating the legislation after last month's nationwide vote to legalise same—sex marriage. the bbc‘s hywel griffith in sydney says the prime minister, malcolm turnbull, is working towards a christmas deadline, but there is still work to be done. so they're already on their feet in the house of representatives, discussing this bill. it's the final furlong for what's been a decades—long campaign to legalise same—sex marriage here in australia. we expect the bill to be passed, but it might be days rather than hours, and that's because there will be amendments discussed. now, the main amendments will be
around religious freedoms, and people who want to take, i guess, a "moral stand" against conforming with this law. so there will be amendments made to suggest celebrants of marriage will be allowed to refuse to celebrate a same—sex marriage, charities, religious charities won't be found at fault or have their funding withdrawn if they have a stance against same—sex marriage. so these are things which will be difficult, potentially. it will cause some more debate, but that final vote expected maybe by wednesday. sky—gazers around the world have been treated to a spectacular sight, with the moon appearing far bigger and brighter than usual. confused? let andrew plant explain. it has become known as a supermoon, seen here above whitby abbey, in yorkshire in the uk. the phenomenon happens when the moon
reaches it closest point to earth, and appears to be brighter and larger in the sky, as seen here by an aeroplane flying over california. to ea rthbound observers, it appears about 70% larger than normal, and that is because its elliptical orbit takes it about 16,000 miles closer than average. the effect is slight, but seems exaggerated thanks to an optical illusion. we are going to see a supermoon, and there is some gain in the apparent size, and indeed the brightness of the moon, as it makes that closest approach and is fully illuminated, from our perspective, by the sun. but the difference is really quite marginal. what i would say is if you want a dramatic effect, if you go outside and look at the full moon, indeed, any full moon, rising and setting, your mind actually produces an illusion, which we call "the moon illusion," which makes the moon look larger
on the horizon. and that effect can actually be more dramatic than the so—called supermoon. nasa has called this week sighting the first in a super—moon trilogy. in the next two months, there will be others, on the first and last day of january next year. last year, the moon made its closest approach to earth since 19118, and it won't be this close again until 203a. so there are some advantages to being up through the night tonight. some gorgeous pictures in andrew's report, and you can see more of those on our website any time. you can get in touch with me and the tea m can get in touch with me and the team on twitter. you are watching bbc news. hello once again.
there were certainly enough gaps in the cloud in the first part of the night for our weather watchers to get a really good view of the night's supermoon. after what had been a pretty reasonable day, especially so across parts of northern ireland, scotland, the north of england, probably the best of the sunshine here. that's not to say we start the new day with plenty of gaps around, because we have weather fronts not a million miles away, and there may well be enough cloud for there to be the odd spot of rain across the far north of scotland, showers running through the western side of scotland, and down through the irish sea. out east, bit of a concern aboutjust how dense some of the fog patches are going to be, not first thing, some may linger in east anglia, the south—east and central and southern england but elsewhere, a cooler not start, as you would expect for the start of the year and essentially it's a dry one. that's not the case for the north
of scotland, quite breezy and wet here, especially in the northern isles. elsewhere, a speckling of showers for northern scotland and northern ireland, but that's the exception to essentially a dry rule. as i say, some of the fog may take time to get away from the south—eastern quarter. and there may well be a little bit more low cloud than i'm showing here, giving a rather grey aspect to the day, that gradually drifting, that prospect, from west to east. if yourfog lingers, six degrees could be your high, elsewhere, eight, nine, ten. not a great deal happening during the evening, perhaps just freshening up the wind, that's a sign of things to come, especially for northern scotland, wet and windy fare here as we get on during the day on tuesday but elsewhere not a bad day, quite a quiet start to the week. notice monday and tuesday. however, we begin to change things quite markedly as we get on into wednesday. here, across northern and western parts, it's either wet and windy, orjust, for some, windy. but at least it's
coming from the south. that's your mildest day of the week by some degree. notice how we've got a lot of isobars here, hence that windy nature to wednesday, it becomes more widespread and crucially through thursday the wind begins to change direction. i'm just about to show you how extensive that change becomes in the latter part of the week, looked at that, cold air right down and across all parts of the british isles, rather like the middle of last week. i'm going to show you the effect on the temperatures. see how through the day they begin to fall away, ten degrees in norwich at the start of the day, where you've got the mild air and wet and windy weather, and brighter skies later, but the temperatures fall away. so the start of the week is mostly fine, then it gets wet and windy and certainly, by the latter part of the week, it turns much, much colder. this is bbc news. the headlines: there's speculation that britain and the european union are close to reaching an agreement that will clear the way for the second phase of talks on the uk's departure from the bloc. prime minister theresa may travels
to brussels on monday for talks with the president of the european commission. as the biggest—everjoint us—south korean military air force exercise gets under way, donald trump's national security adviser says the us is "in a race" to address the threat from north korea. hr mcmaster says the potential for war is increasing every day. cambodia's prime minister hun sen has accused the united states of conspiring to overthrow him. over the weekend he ordered a lavish buddhist ceremony at angkor wat, the seat of cambodia's ancient kings, to pray, he said, for unity and peace. it comes after the banning of the main opposition party, and the jailing of its leader. now on bbc news, it's hardtalk with sarah montague. welcome to hardtalk. i'm sarah montague.