North Korea: US patience 'not unlimited', UN told

Further sanctions urged after regime claims to have tested hydrogen bomb

The U.S. has said that countries trading with North Korea were aiding its nuclear ambitions as the United Nations Security Council mulled tough new sanctions.

 

The United States accused North Korea of “begging for war” at an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council on Monday, a day after the regime of Kim Jong-un claimed to have tested a hydrogen bomb.

As options on how to respond to the North Korean nuclear threat appeared to narrow, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, stopped short of threatening military action at an open session of the UN in New York, instead calling for further sanctions against the rogue regime.

Warning that “enough is enough”, she said that the latest provocation by Pyongyang was “unprecedented”.

“We have kicked the can down the road long enough,” Ms Haley told the council at the emergency meeting – the 10th security council meeting on North Korea this year. “The time for half measures in the security council is over. The time has come to exhaust all of our diplomatic means before it’s too late,” she said.

She said that Kim Jong-un’s “abusive use of missiles and his nuclear threats shows that he is begging for war. War is never something the United States want. We don’t want it now. But our country’s patience is not unlimited. We will defend our allies and our territory.”

The emergency session took place hours before South Korea warned that its northern neighbour may be preparing to launch another missile to mark the anniversary of the founding of the country’s government next weekend.

Hydrogen bomb

On Sunday, the government of North Korea said it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. The underground blast triggered a 6.3 magnitude tremor, making it by far the largest test by the state.

The United States’s emphasis on exhausting all diplomatic options appeared to cool the rhetoric coming from the White House over the previous 24 hours, with defence secretary James Mattis warning that any threat from North Korea would be met with “a massive military response”.

But the call for further sanctions potentially puts the US at odds with other members of the council who have already endorsed broad-ranging sanctions over recent months in response to Pyongyang’s increased nuclear activity.

Ms Haley suggested on Monday that North Korea’s trading partners – which include China – could also face sanctions. “The United States will look at every country that does business with North Korea as a country that is giving aid to their reckless and dangerous nuclear intentions,” she said.

Oil embargo

Any move by Washington to push for an oil embargo is likely to be resisted by China and Russia.

China accounts for more than 80 per cent of North Korea’s external trade – including oil – but Beijing also has a veto at the UN Security Council. 

The United States is understood to be drawing up a new sanctions list which will be considered by the council next week. On August 5th the 15-member council agreed stringent sanctions on North Korea, targeting the country’s exports, in a bid to reduce North Korea’s revenue from exports by about a third.

Although China’s ambassador to the UN, Liu Jieyi, called on North Korea to “cease taking actions that might further escalate tensions”, he also criticised the US for pressing ahead with a new missile defence system in South Korea.

South Korean president Moon Jae-in spoke with US president Donald Trump on Monday, the first conversation between the two men since the US leader threatened to pull out of a trade deal with South Korea. The country also carried out a simulated attack on North Korea’s nuclear test site.

Mr Trump accused the US ally of pursuing a policy of “appeasement” towards North Korea that “will not work”, in a tweet on Sunday.