N Korea de­fi­ant af­ter new sanc­tions, re­ject­ing talks ‘United States will pay the price for its crime’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -


North Korea vowed yes­ter­day that tough new United Na­tions sanc­tions would not stop it from de­vel­op­ing its nu­clear arse­nal, as it re­jected talks and an­grily warned the United States of re­tal­i­a­tion. The mes­sage of de­fi­ance was the first ma­jor re­sponse to the US-drafted sanc­tions, which the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil unan­i­mously ap­proved over the week­end and which could cost North Korea $1 bil­lion a year.

The North’s sole ma­jor ally China, ac­cused by the United States of do­ing too lit­tle to rein in Py­ongyang, piled on the diplo­matic pres­sure by vow­ing to fully im­ple­ment the new sanc­tions. “We will un­der no cir­cum­stances put the nukes and bal­lis­tics rock­ets on (the) ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble,” North Korean For­eign Min­is­ter Ri Yong-Ho said in a state­ment re­leased in the Philip­pine cap­i­tal Manila where he was at­tend­ing a re­gional se­cu­rity fo­rum.

“Nei­ther shall we flinch even an inch from the road to bol­ster­ing up the nu­clear forces cho­sen by our­selves un­less the hos­tile pol­icy and nu­clear threat of the US against the DPRK (North Korea) are fun­da­men­tally elim­i­nated.” In an ear­lier state­ment re­leased via its of­fi­cial KCNA news agency, North Korea threat­ened to make the United States “pay the price for its crime... thou­sands of times” for draft­ing the sanc­tions.

Ri was among two dozen min­is­ters at­tend­ing the se­cu­rity fo­rum, in­clud­ing Chi­nese For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi, US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son and top diplo­mats from other Asia-Pa­cific na­tions. For his part, Tiller­son ruled out a quick re­turn to di­a­logue with North Korea, say­ing Wash­ing­ton would only con­sider talks if Py­ongyang halted its bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­gram. “The best sig­nal that North Korea could send that they’re pre­pared to talk would be to stop these mis­sile launches,” Tiller­son told re­porters.

Tiller­son did hold out the prospect of US en­voys at some point sit­ting down with Py­ongyang, but he re­fused to say how long the North might have to re­frain from test­ing more long-range mis­siles be­fore­hand. “I’m not go­ing to give some­one a spe­cific num­ber of days or weeks. This is re­ally about the spirit of these talks,” he said. The sanc­tions were in re­sponse to the North’s two in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile tests last month, af­ter which Kim boasted that he could now strike any part of the United States.

United stance

Tiller­son, who held sep­a­rate talks in Manila with Yi and Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Lavrov, also sought to em­pha­size a united stance against the North. “It’s quite clear in terms of there be­ing no day­light be­tween the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity as to the ex­pec­ta­tion that North Korea will take steps to achieve all of my ob­jec­tives, which is a de­nu­cle­arized Korean penin­sula,” he said.

Wang then fol­lowed up by warn­ing North Korea that China, which is Py­ongyang’s big­gest trad­ing part­ner, would be res­o­lute in im­ple­ment­ing the sanc­tions. “China will for sure im­ple­ment that new res­o­lu­tion 100 per­cent, fully and strictly,” Wang told re­porters, ac­cord­ing to a trans­la­tor. Py­ongyang’s fiery state­ment via KCNA yes­ter­day hit out at Bei­jing and Moscow, which has also of­fered the North diplo­matic cover in the past.

North Korea warned that na­tions which “re­ceived ap­pre­ci­a­tion from the US” for sup­port­ing the res­o­lu­tion would also be “held ac­count­able”. US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump had on Sun­day said on Twit­ter that he “ap­pre­ci­ates” Rus­sia and China’s co­op­er­a­tion in back­ing the sanc­tions. Ei­ther of them could have blocked the mea­sures with their UN veto.

Seoul sought to ex­tend an olive branch to the North in a brief and rare en­counter on Sun­day be­tween South Korean For­eign Min­is­ter Kang Kyung­Wha and Ri at a din­ner to wel- come the diplo­mats to Manila. Kang urged Ri to ac­cept Seoul’s of­fers of mil­i­tary talks to ease ten­sions on the di­vided penin­sula and for dis­cus­sions on a new round of re­unions for di­vided fam­i­lies, ac­cord­ing to South Korea’s Yon­hap news agency. But Ri im­me­di­ately re­jected the of­fer and said it “lacked sin­cer­ity”, Yon­hap re­ported. Trump and his South Korean coun­ter­part Moon Jae-In spoke on the phone on Sun­day and agreed the North “poses a grave and grow­ing di­rect threat”, ac­cord­ing to a White House state­ment. —AFP

MANILA: (From L-R) US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son, South Korea’s For­eign Min­is­ter Kang Kyung-Wha and Ja­pan’s For­eign Min­is­ter Taro Kono pose for a photo dur­ing their tri­lat­eral meet­ing on the side­lines of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN) re­gional se­cu­rity fo­rum. —AFP

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