UN Security Council Emergency Session: Momentum Builds Against North Korea

Published September 5th, 2017 - 11:04 GMT
The UN Security Council on Monday opened an emergency meeting to agree to a response to North Korea's sixth and most powerful nuclear test, as calls mounted for a new raft of tough sanctions to be imposed on Pyongyang.

KENA BETANCUR / AFP
The UN Security Council on Monday opened an emergency meeting to agree to a response to North Korea's sixth and most powerful nuclear test, as calls mounted for a new raft of tough sanctions to be imposed on Pyongyang. KENA BETANCUR / AFP

The US is pushing for the 'strongest possible measures' on the rogue nation following its sixth and most powerful nuclear test - but China and Russia are likely to oppose UN sanctions.

But North Korea showed no let-up in its rhetoric this morning, suggesting that South Korea needs to be punished for being at the beck and call of the US.

A ranting editorial in state newspaper Rodong Sinmun said: 'The south Korean puppet forces are not free to fire even a single bullet as they are at the U.S. beck and call. Such guys are crying out for "punishment". This would make even the stone Buddha in the temple laugh.'

A separate statement from Kim Myong Gil, officer of the Korean People’s Army, said North Korea's nuclear test had been 'heavy punishment and sledgehammer blows to the US imperialists'.

Amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, Seoul this morning launched major live-fire naval drills to warn its isolated neighbour against any provocations at sea.

South Korea also said it was talking to Washington about deploying aircraft carriers and strategic bombers to the Korean peninsula and has not ruled out redeploying US tactical nuclear weapons on its territory. 

Defense Minister Song Young-moo said that he asked his US counterpart, Jim Mattis, to bolster defences in the South. 

'I told him that it would be good for strategic assets to be sent regularly to the Korean Peninsula and that some South Korean lawmakers and media are strongly pushing for tactical nuclear weapons [to be redeployed],' Song is quoted as saying.  

'The redeployment of tactical nuclear weapons is an alternative worth a full review,' Song added. 

 

This morning, South Korean warships including a 2,500-ton frigate, a 1000-ton patrol ship and 400-ton guided-missile vessels participated in drills aimed at retaliating against potential North Korean threats. 

US Ambassador Nikki Haley told an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council that Washington will present a new sanctions resolution to be negotiated in the coming days, with a view to voting on it next Monday.

'Only the strongest sanctions will enable us to resolve this problem through diplomacy,' Haley told the meeting Monday called by the United States, Britain, France, Japan and South Korea.

North Korea on Sunday triggered global alarm when it detonated what it described as a hydrogen bomb designed for a long-range missile.

The underground blast had a yield of between 50 and 100 kilotons, or on average more than five times more powerful than the bomb detonated over Hiroshima, UN political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman told the council.

Declaring that 'enough is enough,' Haley said incremental sanctions imposed on Pyongyang since 2006 had failed.

Leader Kim Jong-Un's 'abusive use of missiles and his nuclear threats show that he is begging for war,' she said.

'War is never something the United States wants and we don't want it now, but our country's patience is not unlimited,' she said.

Haley did not spell out what measures Washington was seeking, but diplomats said they could target oil supplies to North Korea - potentially dealing a major blow to the economy.

New sanctions could also seek to curb tourism to the country and ban North Korean laborers sent abroad.

The draft text was expected to be presented to the 14 other council members on Tuesday as the United States sought to respond quickly to reports that North Korea was preparing another missile launch.

This morning, South Korea's Asia Business Daily, citing an unidentified source, reported that North Korea had been spotted moving a rocket that appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) towards its west coast.

The rocket started moving on Monday and was spotted moving only at night to avoid surveillance, the report said.

South Korea's defence ministry, which warned on Monday that North Korea was ready to launch an ICBM at any time, said they were unable to confirm the contents of the report.

Pyongyang in July fired two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that apparently brought much of the US mainland into range and Seoul has said it could be planning another test.

Meanwhile Japan is planning for a possible mass evacuation of nearly 60,000 Japanese citizens living in or visiting South Korea amid heightened tensions with the North.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a meeting: 'We need to remain extremely vigilant and do everything we can to ensure the safety of our people.'

According to Nikkei Asian Review, a government source added: 'If the U.S. decided on a military strike against the North, the Japanese government would start moving toward an evacuation on its own accord regardless of whether the American plans are public.'

At the UN, China's ambassador Liu Jieyi warned that the crisis was worsening and emphasized the need for dialogue and a diplomatic solution.

'China will never allow chaos and war on the (Korean) peninsula,' he asserted.

Liu urged the parties to agree to a Chinese-Russian plan calling for the North to freeze its missile and nuclear tests and the United States and South Korea to suspend joint military exercises.

Haley rejected the proposal as 'insulting.'

'When a rogue regime has a nuclear weapon and an ICBM pointed at you, you do not take steps to lower your guard. No one would do that. We certainly won't,' she declared.

Russia said it would study the new US proposals for sanctions, but again stressed those measures alone would not resolve the crisis.

'This is not the way to get parties to the table to seek a political solution,' said Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia.

The council has imposed seven sets of sanctions on North Korea since it first tested a nuclear device in 2006, but Pyongyang has repeatedly found ways to circumvent the measures.

The most recent resolutions, however, have zeroed in on the economy, targeting key exports sectors such as coal that are a source of hard currency for the regime.

Haley reiterated US threats to impose sanctions on countries that conduct trade with North Korea, saying these nations will be seen as 'giving aid to their reckless and dangerous nuclear intentions'.

That could have major reverberations: China is the largest trading partner of both the North and the United States.

South Korea's defense ministry said it was already strengthening its defenses, in part by deploying more US-made Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile launchers.

The South carried out an early-morning volley of ballistic missiles on Monday simulating an attack on the North's nuclear test site, followed on Tuesday by the naval drills.

US President Donald Trump and South Korean leader Moon Jae-In spoke on the phone Monday and agreed to remove limits on the payload of the South's missiles, fixed at 500 kilograms according to a 2001 bilateral agreement.

Trump also approved in principle, the sale of 'many billions of dollars' worth of military weapons and equipment from the United States by South Korea,' according to a White House readout of the call which did not mention any specific new deals.

Seoul was the fourth-biggest importer of US arms between 2010-2016, purchasing nearly $5 billion of weaponry in that period according to an analysis by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

On Sunday US monitors measured a powerful 6.3-magnitude earthquake near the North's main testing site.

Hours before the test, the North released images of Kim inspecting a device it called a 'thermonuclear weapon with super explosive power' entirely made 'by our own efforts and technology'.

The South's defence minister said Seoul believed the North had succeeded in miniaturising a bomb to fit into a missile.

The North says it needs nuclear weapons to defend itself against the threat of invasion, and analysts say it is seeking to strengthen its hand for any future negotiations with Washington.

 This source has been edited from its original source.


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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