US urges ‘action’ from China and Russia after missile test
Washington has called on all nations to take new measures against North Korea after Pyongyang sent an intermediate-range weapon hurtling over Japan into the northern Pacific Ocean.
Secretary of state Rex Tillerson said UN Security Council resolutions approved earlier this week “represent the floor, not the ceiling, of the actions we should take”.
His statement singled out China and Russia, which he said “must indicate their intolerance for these reckless missile launches by taking direct actions of their own”.
The resolutions prohibit any country from authorising new work permits for North Korean workers and cap Pyongyang’s imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters that 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.
China’s foreign ministry called for all sides to seek dialogue to reduce the tensions.
Spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters the situation remains “complex, sensitive and severe”.
She urged all parties to avoid actions that might inflame the situation, while adding that China, North Korea’s chief economic partner and diplomatic ally, did not hold the key to resolving the issue.
China, one of five permanent vetowielding members of the UN Security Council, agreed to the latest sanctions. 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 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about their response.
Presidential spokesman Park Suhyun 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.
North Korea’s longest test flight of a ballistic missile signals both defiance to its enemies and a big technological advance.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the latest missile travelled about 2,300 miles and reached a maximum height of 478 miles. Guam, which is the home of important US military assets, is 2,112 miles from North Korea.
Pyongyang’s weapons tests demonstrate it can “turn the American empire into a sea in flames through sudden surprise attack from any region and area”, the Rodong Sinmun newspaper said on Friday, without mentioning the latest missile test.
North Korea has repeatedly vowed to continue its weapons tests amid what it calls US hostility - by which it means the presence of nearly 80,000 US troops in Japan and South Korea.
Friday’s test, which Seoul said was the 19th launch of a ballistic missile by North Korea this year, triggered sirens and warning messages in northern Japan but caused no apparent damage to aircraft or ships.
It was the second missile fired over Japan in less than a month. North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3. The missile was launched from Sunan, the location of Pyongyang’s international airport and the origin of the earlier missile that flew over Japan.
Analysts have speculated the new test was of the same intermediaterange missile launched in that earlier flight.
> This May 14 photograph from the North Korean government shows the Hwasong-12 missile at an undisclosed location in the country. Pyongyang launched a second missile that flew over Japan in its longest-ever flight yesterday