Irish Independent - - NEWS - Neil Con­nor and Ju­lian Ryall

US puts pres­sure on China over North Korean rocket test

NORTH KOREA has again de­fied the global com­mu­nity with the launch of a bal­lis­tic mis­sile which flew over Ja­pan and trav­elled the fur­thest Py­ongyang has ever fired a pro­jec­tile, in what has been in­ter­preted as a mes­sage that the regime “has Guam in mind”.

The launch of the in­ter­me­di­ate-range mis­sile yes­ter­day will also be seen as a di­rect chal­lenge to Don­ald Trump, who warned the North last month that it would face “fire and fury” if it threat­ened the US.

The mis­sile, launched from Su­nan, the site of Py­ongyang’s in­ter­na­tional air­port, flew about 2,300 miles (3,700km) – the great­est dis­tance trav­elled by a North Korean mis­sile.

The dis­tance is slightly greater than be­tween the North Korean cap­i­tal and the US ter­ri­tory of Guam, which has come un­der threat from Py­ongyang in re­cent weeks, prompt­ing Ja­pan’s De­fence Min­is­ter It­sunori On­odera to say that he be­lieved North Korea “has Guam in mind”.

Gar­ren Mul­loy, a de­fence expert and as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at Ja­pan’s Daito Bunka Uni­ver­sity, told ‘The Daily Tele­graph’: “From pre­vi­ous launches and the al­ti­tude and ranges of those mis­siles, it has been as­sumed that Guam is within range of the North’s mis­siles, but this lat­est test is proof.”

Sirens sounded in Ja­pan as res­i­dents were warned to take shel­ter while the mis­sile passed over Hoakkaido.

“We can never tol­er­ate that North Korea tram­pled on the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity’s strong, united re­solve to­ward peace that has been shown in UN res­o­lu­tions and went ahead again with this out­ra­geous act,” said Shinzo Abe, the Ja­panese prime min­is­ter.

Jim Mat­tis, US de­fence sec­re­tary, called the lat­est mis­sile launch a reck­less act which had “put mil­lions of Ja­panese in duck and cover”.

Rex Tiller­son, the US sec­re­tary of state, said North Korea was “en­dan­ger­ing the en­tire world” and urged China and Rus­sia to do more to rein in North Korea.

“China and Rus­sia must in­di­cate their in­tol­er­ance for these reck­less mis­sile launches by tak­ing di­rect ac­tions of their own,” he said.

China said it “op­posed” the test, but re­it­er­ated its call for all sides in the cri­sis to ex­er­cise re­straint. “The sit­u­a­tion on the Korean Penin­sula is com­pli­cated and sen­si­tive,” a spokes­woman said.

Vladimir Putin and his French coun­ter­part Em­manuel Macron agreed in a phone call yes­ter­day that re­sum­ing talks with North Korea was the only way to re­solve ten­sions, the Krem­lin said.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Rus­sian president, told re­porters Moscow “res­o­lutely con­demns” such moves and said the mis­sile test will “lead to the fur­ther growth of ten­sions and the fur­ther es­ca­la­tion of ten­sions on the Korean penin­sula”.

Rus­sia backed the res­o­lu­tions passed by the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, but the Krem­lin has also been crit­i­cal of calls from the US to ramp up the sanc­tion pres­sure on North Korea.

Amid fur­ther calls for firmer ac­tion against North Korea, an of­fi­cial from Py­ongyang said eco­nomic mea­sures would have no im­pact.

Choe Kang-il, deputy di­rec­tor gen­eral for North Amer­i­can af­fairs at the North’s for­eign min­istry, said: “You can im­pose what­ever sanc­tions you want, but no mat­ter how long these sanc­tions last – whether it is for a hun­dred or a thou­sand years – we will ... con­tinue with our planned tests.”

A Gallup poll has found a ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans sup­port mil­i­tary ac­tion if eco­nomic and diplo­matic ef­forts fail.

The sur­vey of 1,022 US adults found 58pc said they would favour mil­i­tary ac­tion against North Korea if the United States can­not ac­com­plish its goals by more peace­ful means first.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a lib­eral who ini­tially pushed for talks with North Korea, said Py­ongyang’s tests cur­rently make di­a­logue “im­pos­si­ble”.

“The sanc­tions and pres­sure by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity will only tighten so that North Korea has no choice but to take the path for gen­uine di­a­logue.

“If North Korea pro­vokes us or our al­lies, we have the strength to smash the at­tempt at an early stage and in­flict a level of dam­age it would be im­pos­si­ble to re­cover from.”

Mr Moon also spoke on the phone with the Ja­panese prime min­is­ter about their re­sponse. Pres­i­den­tial spokesman Park Su-hyun said the two lead­ers agreed to co-op­er­ate in iden­ti­fy­ing “stern and ef­fec­tive mea­sures” to be dis­cussed at next week’s UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly min­is­te­rial meet­ings. (© Daily Tele­graph)

Ac­tions: Rex Tiller­son

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