MIS­SILE CRI­SIS

North Korea launches sec­ond rocket over Ja­pan

The Weekend Australian - - FRONT PAGE - ROWAN CALLICK GREG BROWN

The UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil faces its own cred­i­bil­ity chal­lenge when it meets to­day to con­sider yet again how to halt North Korea’s nu­cle­ari­sa­tion, fol­low­ing the coun­try’s long­est mis­sile launch yet that flew 3700km over Ja­pan into the Pa­cific.

The Se­cu­rity Coun­cil passed its ninth round of eco­nomic sanc- tions against the Kim regime this week, af­ter Py­ongyang tested its sixth and by far big­gest nu­clear bomb.

North Korea re­sponded to these new mea­sures by fir­ing an in­ter­me­di­ate bal­lis­tic mis­sile that climbed to 770km and could have reached US mil­i­tary bases on Guam.

UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res last night con­demned North Korea’s lat­est mis­sile test, and said talks on the cri­sis would be held on the side­lines of the Gen­eral As­sem­bly meet­ing next week.

The launch from near Py­ongyang caused the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment to sound sirens, send text mes­sages telling peo­ple to “flee into a build­ing or a base­ment” and to break in to break­fast TV shows to warn those liv­ing in the south of the north­ern is­land of Hokkaido.

Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe said his coun­try could “never tol­er­ate” such a “danger­ous, provoca­tive ac­tion that threat­ens world peace.”

South Korea’s mil­i­tary im­me­di­ately car­ried out its own bal­lis­tic mis­sile drill, with the de­fence min­istry say­ing it took place while the North’s rocket was still air­borne. One of Seoul’s Hyunmu mis­siles trav­elled 250km into the Sea of Ja­pan — a tra­jec­tory cho­sen to rep­re­sent the dis­tance to the North’s launch site at Su­nan, near Py­ongyang’s air­port. But em­bar­rass­ingly, another failed.

Mal­colm Turn­bull said the lat­est launch by Py­ongyang showed dic­ta­tor Kim Jong-un was feel­ing pres­sured by last month’s and this week’s Se­cu­rity Coun­cil sanc­tions.

“This is a sign, I be­lieve of their frus­tra­tion at the in­creased sanc­tions ... it is a sign that the sanc­tions are work­ing and what we need to do is main­tain the united global pres­sure on this rogue regime to bring it to its senses,” the Prime Min­is­ter said.

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Barn­aby Joyce said the rogue na­tion had tested mis­siles that could po­ten­tially reach South Aus­tralia. “If you have now set off a hy­dro­gen bomb and you have the ca­pac­ity to minia­turise it to va­por­ise and mur­der mil­lions and mil­lions of peo­ple, the world is not go­ing to stand idly by,” he said.

This claim was played down by For­eign Min­is­ter Julie Bishop, who said it was dif­fi­cult to tell how far the North Korean mis­siles could travel. But she said the regime’s goal was to have a bal­lis­tic mis­sile that could reach Aus­tralia.

Only two weeks ago, North Korea shot its first mis­sile over Ja­pan since 2009. On Thurs­day, just hours be­fore the lat­est mis­sile launch, the North Korea Asia-Pa­cific Peace Com­mit­tee is­sued a state­ment about the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil and Ja­pan, which colon- ised Korea from 1910 to 1945.

It de­scribed the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil as a “tool of evil” com­posed of “money-bribed” coun­tries con­trolled by the US. It re­ferred to Ja­pan’s “never-to-be-con­doned crimes against our peo­ple,” and said “the four is­lands of the ar­chi­pel­ago should be sunk into the sea by the nu­clear bomb of Juche (sel­f­re­liant Korea). Ja­pan is no longer needed to ex­ist near us.”

South Kore­ans, it said, were “traitors and dogs” of the US.

US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son said the nine rounds of sanc­tions agreed by the UN so far “rep­re­sent the floor, not the ceil­ing, of the ac­tions we should take”.

He said China and Rus­sia “must in­di­cate their in­tol­er­ance for these reck­less mis­sile launches by tak­ing di­rect ac­tions of their own”. Mr Tiller­son said China sup­plied North Korea with most of its oil, while Rus­sia was the big­gest em­ployer of its “forced labour”.

South Korea’s Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in, who had re­cently been re­buffed by Py­ongyang af­ter propos­ing a dual-track pro­gram of talks, said such di­a­logue was “im­pos­si­ble in a sit­u­a­tion like this”.

China and Rus­sia will hold naval ex­er­cises for 10 days from Mon­day. Mil­i­tary ex­perts say such ex­er­cises send warn­ings to the North Kore­ans and the US and South Korea not to be­come too ag­gres­sive in the re­gion.

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