Mon, Sep 11, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Japan backs US bid for fresh sanctions against North Korea


North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reacts during a celebration in Pyongyang for nuclear scientists and engineers who contributed to a hydrogen bomb test in an undated photograph released by the Korean Central News Agency yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

Japan yesterday backed a US push for the UN Security Council to vote today on fresh sanctions against Pyongyang, saying that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s nuclear program poses the most serious threat since World War II.

Japanese Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera urged tougher sanctions, including curbing oil supplies to North Korea.

He said that the regime’s advances in missile technology are complicating Japan’s ability to intercept them.

“Japan’s security environment including North Korea is increasingly grave — perhaps it’s the most serious state in the post-war period,” Onodera told public broadcaster NHK. “If North Korea-bound oil, mainly coming from China, decreases through pressure by the international community, it will be difficult for North Korea to operate its missile brigades.”

US President Donald Trump’s administration is pushing the UN Security Council to adopt a united stance as Kim gets closer to being able to strike the US with a nuclear weapon.

China and Russia, which can veto any UN measures, have expressed skepticism that tough sanctions will stop North Korea’s nuclear push and have pushed for peace talks.

North Korea detonated its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb on Sunday last week, which it said was a hydrogen device.

South Korea has detected moves that indicate it might soon launch another intercontinental ballistic missile.

Kim, who has said he will not negotiate unless the US drops its “hostile policies,” threw a banquet for nuclear scientists and technicians to celebrate the hydrogen bomb test, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported yesterday.

North Korean state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun on Saturday said in an editorial that Pyongyang was now a nuclear power and praised Kim for strengthening “defenses to protect the Korean Peninsula from invasion.”

KCNA said in a commentary that the US was resorting to sanctions and pressure rather than seeking talks.

The US has circulated a draft resolution that would, aside from barring crude oil shipments to North Korea, ban the nation’s exports of textiles and prohibit employment of its guest workers by other countries, according to a diplomat at the world body.

The proposal, which also calls for freezing Kim’s assets, has been sent to the 15 members of the UN Security Council, the diplomat said.

The US is willing to risk a veto of its proposal rather than see it watered down, according to a diplomat who asked not to be identified while negotiations are ongoing.

A halt to oil exports is far from certain. While China and Russia have condemned Kim’s actions, they have said the ultimate goal needs to be to coax him to the negotiating table and avoid a war.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said more sanctions would not work, while China is wary about cutting off Kim’s economic lifeline to the point it risks collapsing his regime.

China is North Korea’s main ally and by far its biggest trading partner, including for oil shipments.

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