North Korea's latest missile launch has drawn a US call for tougher sanctions at the UN Security Council. China has condemned the launch and says a deal could include a halt to US-South Korea military drills.
US ambassador Nikki Haley told the Security Council at an emergency session late Wednesday that Washington would submit a draft resolution "in the coming days" for further sanctions on Pyongyang.
Its enforcement would rest with Beijing, she said, because 90 percent of trade with North Korea was with China.
If China and Russia did not support the US draft, then "we will go our own path," Haley said, adding though that the US wanted to avoid a military confrontation.
The administration of US President Donald Trump preferred "not to go in that direction," Haley said, but would use its "great capabilities in the area of trade."
The Pentagon acknowledged Wednesday that the Hwasong-14 intercontinental rocket launched Tuesday by the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un was a type not previously seen in action.
Navy Captain Jeff Davis said the Pentagon was "confident in our ability to defend against the limited threat" after South Korea's Defense Minister Han Min-koo put the North Korean missile's reach at up to 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles).
At Wednesday's Security Council hearing, China's ambassador Liu Jieyi described Pyongyang's launch as a "flagrant violation" of existing UN resolutions.
He urged "all parties concerned to exercise restraint" and seek dialogue based on China's past proposal that North Korea freeze its tests in exchange for a halt to US-South Korean military drills.
Russia's deputy ambassador Vladimir Safronkov warned that a military option was "inadmissible" and said all sides "must acknowledge that sanctions will not solve the issue."
Already, six sets of sanctions have been imposed on North Korea since it first tested an atomic device in 2006. New measures could target countries that continue to trade with Pyongyang, curb oil exports to the rogue state, tighten air and maritime restrictions and impose travel bans on its officials.
Visiting Berlin ahead of the G20 summit in Hamburg, South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in, said the international community would look at "ramping up sanctions."
The issue is likely to be a focus of the summit, with Moon due to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Trump on Thursday evening. In a tweet on Wednesday, Trump had accused China of hiking trade with North Korea instead of restraining its neighbor.
US and South Korean forces responded to North Korea's provocation on Tuesday by firing "deep strike" missiles into South Korean territorial waters.
ipj/bw (AP, Reuters, AFP)