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The United States envoy to the United Nations has urged the Security Council to take the “strongest possible measures” against North Korea after its latest nuclear test.
“The time has come to exhaust all diplomatic means before it is too late,” Nikki Haley told an emergency meeting of the council in New York. The US will circulate a new draft Security Council resolution, hoping for a vote next Monday.
Last month, the Security Council voted unanimously to ban North Korean exports and limit investments in the country. South Korea is set to scrap a warhead weight limit on its own missiles. President Moon Jae-in agreed in a phone call with his US counterpart, Donald Trump, to remove the current cap of 500kg (1,100lb), the South Korean presidential office said. It carried out live-fire exercises on Monday, simulating an attack on the North’s nuclear test site.
Reports suggest the North is preparing new test missile launches. It tested a nuclear bomb underground on Sunday. Estimates of its power range from 50 kilotonnes to 120 kilotonnes.
A 50kt device would be about three times the size of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945. Opening Monday’s meeting, UN Under Secretary General Jeffrey Feltman said North Korea’s actions were destabilising global security, and he called on Pyongyang to abide by Security Council resolutions.
“The DPRK (North Korea) is the only country that continues to break the norm against nuclear test explosions,” he said. Ms Haley argued that only the strongest sanctions would enable the problem to be resolved through diplomacy. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had shown through his actions that he was “begging for war”, she said.
“War is never something the United States wants,” she continued. “We don’t want it now but our country’s patience is not unlimited.” She was speaking after President Trump warned the US might consider stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea. “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,” Ms Haley said.
The British ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, said direct talks with North Korea were only possible if Pyongyang stopped the escalation. “Dialogue will always be our end goal but returning to dialogue without a serious sign of intent from Pyongyang would be a set-up to failure,” he said. “North Korea must change course to allow a return to dialogue.”
China’s envoy to the UN, Liu Jieyi, reiterated a call for all sides to return to negotiations. “The peninsula issue must be resolved peacefully,” he said. “China will never allow chaos and war on the peninsula.”
Ms Haley did not spell out what additional measures might be taken but diplomats have suggested an oil embargo would have a crippling effect.
There could also be a ban on the North’s national airline, curbs on North Koreans working abroad, and asset freezes and travel bans on officials. It was North Korea’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date. The US Geological Survey recorded a resulting tremor at 6.3 magnitude.