UN Security Council hears tough talk against North Korea | News | DW | 28.04.2017
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UN Security Council hears tough talk against North Korea

The UN Security Council meeting came amid heightened tensions between North Korea and the United States and its allies. Hours later, North Korea reportedly launched a failed missile test north of Pyongyang.

The United Nations Security Council heard tough words from its own secretary-general, the US secretary of state and Japan's foreign minister - all calling for tougher action to halt North Korea's ongoing nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

"We implore North Korea to stop tests immediately," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, told the Council on Friday. "I stand ready to assist in any way possible."

Early on Saturday, just hours after the UN meeting, the South Korean army said that Pyongyang had test-fired an undentified type of missile. The US military said however that initial indications showed that the test had been unsuccessful.

For more than two decades, North Korea has slowly but steadily been developing a nuclear weapons arsenal as well as a ballistic missile program with weapons capable of striking more distant targets. The result has been increased tensions between North Korea and the United States and its allies, particularly Japan and South Korea, who fear Pyongyang may launch a military attack.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Washington wants more pressure on member states to impose existing sanctions and called for imposing new sanctions, as well.

"We much prefer a negotiated solution to this problem but are committed to defending ourselves and our allies," Tillerson told the Council.

"For the past 20 years, well-intentioned efforts to dismantle the program have failed," he added. "With each test, North Korea pushes Asia and the world closer to conflict. It is likely only a matter of time before North Korea is able to strike the US homeland.

"The policy of strategic patience is over. The more we bide our time the sooner we will run out of it. The time has come to put new pressure on North Korea. I urge the council to act before North Korea does," Tillerson said.

Watch video 00:28

Tillerson: 'All options must remain on the table'

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov agreed that North Korea needs to mend its ways, telling the council that Pyongyang "is conducting itself in an inappropriate way."

But he also rejected Washington's tough rhetoric.

"At the same time, options of using force are completely unacceptable and could lead to catastrophic consequences."

Japan cites real threat

Japan's foreign minister, Fumio Kishida, also had tough words for Pyongyang, adding that the threat facing his island nation is real, noting that when North Korea recently test-fired a series of missiles into the sea, three of them "landed within Japan's economic zone."

No one was hurt in the tests, but he said the result "could have been catastrophic."

He also called on Pyongyang to resume multiparty talks aimed at achieving international agreement.

"In 2005, North Korea together with China, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the US unanimously reaffirmed the goal of the six-party talks," he said. "All parties expect North Korea to remain committed to this position.

"There is no doubt dialogue is necessary to achieve the denuclearization of North Korea," he continued, "but meaningful dialogue is clearly not possible (now). The international community must send a strong message that provocation comes at a high price. Japan calls on all member states to increase pressure on North Korea."

Trump and Xi

US President Donald Trump hosted his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping earlier this month and came away praising the Chinese leader for his willingness to try and rein in North Korea's military ambitions.

But Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the UN Security Council that both sides bore responsibility for the growing tensions.

"The problem is not the result of only one country and it's unrealistic to ask one country to make all the concessions," Wang said.

He also sought to downplay the level of influence Beijing can wield over North Korea's actions, saying "The key to stopping the problem does not lie in (Beijing)."

Nonetheless, China has proposed freezing Pyongyang's military programs in exchange for ending US-South Korea military drills, which the North views at threatening.

The US has rejected China's propsal, saying North Korea must take steps to show it is willing to abandon its miltiary programs.

But Russia's Gatilov said China's proposals are worthy of consideration, calling them "ideas that merit serious attention."

bik, es/se (DW, AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)

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