Posts Tagged ‘Kim Jong-Un’

War More Possible Than Ever in North Korea: Government advisers urge China to prepare for war

December 17, 2017

South China Morning Post

The risk of conflict on the Korean peninsula is the highest its been in decades and Beijing must mobilise resources for fallout, observers say

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 December, 2017, 10:03pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 December, 2017, 11:26pm

China must be ready for a war on the Korean peninsula, with the risk of conflict higher than ever before, Chinese government advisers and a retired senior military officer warned on Saturday.

Beijing, once seen as Pyongyang’s key ally with sway over its neighbour, was losing control of the situation, they warned.

“Conditions on the peninsula now make for the biggest risk of a war in decades,” said Renmin University international relations professor Shi Yinhong, who also advises the State Council, China’s cabinet.

Shi said US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un were locked in a vicious cycle of threats and it was already too late for China to avert it. At best, Beijing could stall a full-blown conflict.

“North Korea is a time bomb. We can only delay the explosion, hoping that by delaying it, a time will come to remove the detonator,” Shi said on the sidelines of a Beijing conference on the crisis.

Addressing the conference, Wang Hongguang, former deputy commander of the Nanjing Military Region, warned that war could break out on the Korean peninsula at any time from now on until March when South Korea and the United States held annual military drills.

“It is a highly dangerous period,” Wang said. “Northeast China should mobilise defences for war.”

 Northeast China should mobilise defences for war, a retired PLA deputy commander says. Photo: Chinese defence ministry

Yang Xiyu, a senior fellow at the China Institute of International Studies affiliated with China’s foreign ministry, said conditions on the peninsula were at their most perilous in half a century.

“No matter whether there is war or peace, regretfully, China has no control, dominance or even a voice on the issue,” he said.

China might already be preparing for the worst.

Last week, Jilin Daily, the official newspaper of the province bordering North Korea, published a full page of advice for residents on how to respond to a nuclear attack.

A document purportedly from telecom operator China Mobile about plans to set up five refugee camps in Jilin’s Changbai county also surfaced online last week.

Wang said the Jilin Daily article was a “signal to the country to be prepared for a coming war”.

He said China was also worried about the threat North Korea’s frequent nuclear tests were posing to unstable geological structures in the region.

 China is concerned about geological dangers posed by North Korea’s nuclear tests. Photo: AP

Nanjing University professor Zhu Feng said that no matter how minor the possibility, China should be prepared psychologically and practically for “a catastrophic nuclear conflict, nuclear fallout or a nuclear explosion”.

“Why do we always act like ostriches? Why do we always believe a war won’t occur?” Zhu said.

“What China needs is a sense of urgency about its declining influence in strategy related to the peninsula and the way it brings down China’s status and role in East Asian security issues.”

He also said Kim’s failure to meet Chinese envoy Song Tao during his trip to Pyongyang last month was a “humiliation” for China.

Meanwhile at the United Nations in New York, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on China and Russia to increase their efforts to halt Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.

Tillerson also backtracked on his previous unconditional offer for talks by saying that Washington would not negotiate with Pyongyang until it stopped “threatening behaviours”.

 Hopes for peace cannot rest on US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Renmin University professor Shi Yinhong says. Photo: Kyodo

North Korean ambassador to the UN Ja Song-nam accused the United States, Japan and the United Nations Security Council of waging a hostile campaign to stop Pyongyang from gaining nuclear weapons that it saw as necessary to defend itself.

Renmin University professor Shi said hopes for peace could not rest on Kim and Trump, and China and Russia should work together to argue against war.

In a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping said war on the peninsula was not acceptable.


S. Korea to impose new sanctions on Pyongyang: report

December 10, 2017


© KCNA VIS KNS/AFP | Undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un visiting Samjiyon County

SEOUL (AFP) – South Korea will impose new unilateral sanctions against nuclear-armed Pyongyang, a report said Sunday, in Seoul’s latest effort to pressure the North after a series of weapons tests that have sent regional tensions surging.The move comes after a rare visit to North Korea by a senior UN official, who called for dialogue between Pyongyang and the international community to avert a potentially catastrophic “miscalculation” in the high-stakes nuclear crisis.

Seoul’s new measures, its second set of unilateral sanctions in a month, are likely to draw an angry response from Pyongyang, which views its neighbour as overly-dependent on a hostile Washington.

A total of 20 North Korean organisations, including banks and trading companies, and 12 North Korean individuals — mostly bankers — will be blacklisted as of Monday, the South’s Yonhap news agency reported citing a foreign ministry official.

“The organisations and individuals were involved in supplying money needed to develop weapons of mass destruction or illegal trading of sanctioned items,” the official said, according to Yonhap.

The measures are in addition to those by the UN Security Council, which has hit the isolated and impoverished North with a package of sanctions over its increasingly powerful missile and nuclear tests.

China, Pyongyang’s sole major diplomatic and military ally, has also backed the UN embargoes, but has repeatedly pushed for talks to diffuse tensions.

The UN’s under secretary general Jeffrey Feltman visited the North just a week after Pyongyang said it test-fired a new ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States.

His trip also coincided with the US and South Korea’s biggest-ever joint air exercise, which the North slammed as a provocation and revealing an intention to “mount a surprise nuclear pre-emptive strike”.

Seoul’s sanctions will bar South Korean individuals and entities from transacting with those on the list but it will be largely symbolic given a lack of inter-Korean economic ties.

Last year, South Korea unilaterally closed operations at the jointly-run Kaesong Industrial Complex, saying cash from the zone was being funnelled to the North’s weapons programme.

The complex was the last remaining form of North-South economic cooperation. Seoul banned nearly all business with the North in 2010 after accusing Pyongyang of sinking one of its warships.

China and Russia Express Pessimism About North Korean Tensions — Can’t Trust the U.S.

December 9, 2017
 Updated on 
  • Foreign minister ‘not optimistic’ about standoff with U.S.
  • North Korea says UN delegation agreed on regular communication

China expressed pessimism about bringing the North Korean standoff to a peaceful resolution, even as Kim Jong Un’s regime touted new United Nations support for “regular” talks.

Chinese Foreign Minster Wang Yi said Saturday that “the outlook is not optimistic” on the Korean Peninsula and urged both sides to end what he said was a “vicious cycle” of confrontation. Wang’s remarks — part of a broad foreign policy speech in Beijing — came hours after North Korea said that a departing UN delegation had agreed to communications to help ease tensions.

 Image may contain: 1 person
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi

Wang said there was still hope for a diplomatic solution and reiterated a Chinese proposal for both sides to build trust by suspending military drills and weapons tests. “The first step to pull the situation on the peninsula out of the current ‘black hole’ of confrontation is to create the conditions and atmosphere to restart dialogue,” Wang said.

The UN’s top official for political affairs, Undersecretary General Jeffrey Feltman, left North Korea on Saturday after a visit that sought to ease tensions over the country’s nuclear weapons program. The U.S. sent B-1B bombers to join massive aerial drills with South Korea after Kim tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach any American city.

The UN visit was part of a flurry of efforts involving countries from Canada to Germany to help facilitate talks between Kim’s regime and U.S. President Donald Trump. North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said Saturday that the visit contributed to a deeper understanding and that they agreed to communicate at “various levels.”

“The UN secretariat’s side expressed its readiness to make a contribution to the relaxation of the tension on the peninsula under the UN Charter, which stipulates the mission of the UN based on the guarantee of international peace and security,” KCNA said in it’s English-language report. The report said Feltman paid a “courtesy call” on North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and held talks with a vice minister of foreign affairs.

Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, said by email Saturday that the delegation had a “broad policy dialogue” in Pyongyang and that the body might have further comment later.

‘Not Meaningful’

“I don’t believe this in itself is meaningful,” said Shin Beomchul, a professor at Korea National Diplomatic Academy. North Korea wanted to use the UN to gain legitimacy and get the U.S. to the negotiating table and acknowledge it as a nuclear state, he said.

The U.S. has refused to consider negotiations while Kim tests increasingly powerful nuclear bombs and lobs missiles into the sea around Japan. In an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad said that the Trump administration would be ready for talks if North Korea renounced further nuclear or missile tests.

Any UN mediation effort would require approval from the UN Security Council, where the U.S. wields veto power. The Security Council has called for the resumption of the so-called six-party talks, which included China, Japan, Russia and South Korea and broke off in 2009.

North Korea Defies the World With Nuclear Ambitions: QuickTake

Weapons tests by North Korea have prompted the Security Council to pass two sets of sanctions blocking about 90 percent of that nation’s reported exports, including coal and seafood, as well as imports of some oil products. The KCNA report said the UN’s Feltman acknowledged the negative effect of sanctions and showed an intention to seek cooperation in keeping with body’s humanitarian mission.

Trump has sought to pressure China to rein in its ally and neighbor before it acquires a nuclear arsenal advanced enough to deter a U.S. attack. Kim said the test showed that North Korea’s nuclear program was complete because it could deliver an atomic warhead anywhere in the U.S.

While Kim hasn’t yet proven he has the technology to put a warhead on an ICBM and deliver it safely to a target, the test has put new pressure on the U.S. and its allies to find a solution. By declaring his weapons program complete, Kim may have created a path to resume negotiations from a position of strength.

“North Korea’s effort to strengthen relations with the UN is an extension of its announcement it completed its nuclear program last month in that both aim for negotiations with the U.S.,” said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.

Wang, the Chinese foreign minister, said that all avenues must be pursued to avoid conflict.

“Hope for peace has not yet been eliminated,” Wang said. “The prospect for negotiations still exists. The choice of using force is absolutely unacceptable.”

— With assistance by Kambiz Foroohar, Gareth Allan, and Janet Ong


Lavrov: U.S. Threats To Withdraw From Iran Nuclear Deal Make North Korea Wary

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said U.S. threats to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran are hampering efforts to end the nuclear crisis with North Korea.

Lavrov said at a summit in Vienna on December 8 that in his talks with Pyongyang, he’s found North Korea is willing to negotiate a de-escalation of the crisis with the United States, but it has doubts about whether Washington will abide by any deal in light of what happened with Iran.

The question is “how to convince North Korea that a deal won’t be rejected in a year or two by a new American administration,” Lavrov said, according to a translation of his remarks on the sidelines of a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

“North Korea needs security guarantees, especially when Washington is about to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal,” he said.

With both sides escalating the conflict this year through a series of missile and nuclear tests by North Korea and U.S. and South Korean military drills, Lavrov said, “now, of course, it will be more difficult to create conditions for the resumption of the dialogue.”

After a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on December 7, Lavrov had said Moscow was ready to try to mediate talks between Washington and Pyongyang at the same time he accused the United States of contributing to increased tensions.

“We know that North Korea wants foremost to discuss security guarantees with the United States. We’re ready to support, to participate in these negotiations,” Lavrov said at the time.

“We are convinced of the need to end the vicious cycle of confrontation, carelessness, and provocations.”

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and dpa

N. Korea blames US for tensions in rare UN talks

December 9, 2017


© KCNA VIS KNS/AFP | The North’s leader Kim Jong-Un has ramped up his impoverished nation’s missile and nuclear programme in recent years

SEOUL (AFP) – North Korea blamed US “nuclear blackmail” for soaring tensions over its weapons programme following rare meetings with a senior UN official, but agreed to regular communication with the organisation, state media said Saturday.Jeffrey Feltman arrived in Beijing Saturday after wrapping up a five-day visit to Pyongyang aimed at defusing the crisis, just a week after North Korea said it test-fired a new ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States.

His trip — the first by a UN diplomat of his rank since 2010 — saw him meet Foreign Minister Ri Yong-Ho and vice foreign minister Pak Myong-Kuk as well as medical facilities supported by the UN, the North’s state news agency KCNA said.

“At these meetings, our side said the US policy of hostility toward the DPRK (North Korea) and its nuclear blackmail are to blame for the current tense situation on the Korean peninsula,” the report said.

It added that the North had agreed with the UN “to regularize communications through visits at various levels”.

The report did not mention any meetings with leader Kim Jong-Un, who has ramped up his impoverished nation’s missile and nuclear programme in recent years in order to achieve Pyongyang’s stated goal of developing a warhead capable of hitting the US mainland.

Feltman, the UN’s under secretary general for political affairs, visited the country just after the United States and South Korea launched their biggest-ever joint air exercise.

Pyongyang reiterated its view that these manoeuvres were a provocation on Saturday, accusing the drills of “revealing its intention to mount a surprise nuclear pre-emptive strike against the DPRK”, using the acronym for the country’s official name.

The UN Security Council has hit the isolated and impoverished North with a package of sanctions over its increasingly powerful missile and nuclear tests, which have rattled Washington and its regional allies South Korea and Japan.

Early Saturday Feltman flew to Beijing, a key transit point with the North, and left the city’s airport without speaking to reporters.

China, which is Pyongyang’s sole major diplomatic and military ally, has called on the United States to freeze military drills and North Korea to halt weapons tests to calm tensions.

The Chinese foreign ministry on Saturday published a speech from four days ago by foreign minister Wang Yi in which he warned that the Korean Peninsula “remains deeply entrenched in a vicious cycle of demonstrations of strength and confrontation.”

“The outlook is not optimistic,” Beijing’s top diplomat added.

– ‘Emotion-charged days’ –

Pyongyang ramped up already high tensions on the Korean Peninsula at the end of November when it announced it had successfully test-fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which it says brings the whole of the continental United States within range.

Analysts say it is unclear whether the missile survived re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere or could successfully deliver a warhead to its target — key technological hurdles for Pyongyang.

US President Donald Trump has engaged in months of tit-for-tat rhetoric with Kim, pejoratively dubbing him “Little Rocket Man” and a “sick puppy”.

The North on Saturday released photographs of Kim on the summit of the country’s highest peak, the fabled 2,750-metre Mount Paektu, which he climbed to ponder recent successes in his drive for nuclear weapons statehood.

State media said the young leader, who was pictured strolling across the snow covered peak sporting a heavy black coat, fur hat and buffed leather shoes, had climbed the “sublime mountain of revolution”, which is on the border with China.

Described in the fulsome language of Pyongyang’s mouthpiece as “the peerlessly illustrious commander who controls the nature”, Kim was particularly pleased with the inclement weather and used the opportunity to muse on his recent military feats.

“The respected Supreme Leader gave a familiar look for a while at the dizzy cliffs and the sea of trees,” the report said, describing him dwelling on the “emotion-charged days when he realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force without yielding even a moment”.

Mount Paektu is considered a sacred place in Korean folklore and plays a central role in the propaganda glorifying the Kim family.

Officially, Kim’s father Kim Jong-Il was born on its slopes in 1942, though independent historians say he was actually born a year earlier and in the Soviet Union, where his own father was in exile.

N. Korea blasts ‘dangerous’ US-South joint military drill

December 3, 2017


© KCNA VIA KNS/AFP | North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un visits the Amnokgang Tyre Factory, where tyres for the missile launcher used in the latest test were reportedly made

SEOUL (AFP) – North Korea Sunday blasted the United States and South Korea as “warmongers” on the eve of their largest-ever joint air exercise, saying it could trigger a nuclear war.The comments came as White House National Security Advisor H.R McMaster warned of the “increasing” possibility of war with the impoverished but nuclear-armed North.

The five-day Vigilant Ace drill — involving some 230 aircraft including F-22 Raptor stealth jet fighters — begins Monday, five days after the North test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile believed capable of hitting the US mainland in a fresh challenge to President Donald Trump.

The North’s ruling party Rodong newspaper slammed the upcoming drill.

“It is an open, all-out provocation against the DPRK, which may lead to a nuclear war any moment,” it said in an editorial Sunday, using the North’s official name.

“The US and South Korean puppet warmongers would be well advised to bear in mind that their DPRK-targeted military drill will be as foolish as an act precipitating their self-destruction,” it said.

The commentary was published a day after Pyongyang’s foreign ministry accused the Trump administration of “begging for nuclear war” by staging what it called the reckless air drills.

McMaster said the possibility of war with the North was “increasing every day”.

“I think it’s increasing every day, which means that…we are in a race to be able to solve this problem,” he said at a forum on Saturday.

“There are ways to address this problem short of armed conflict, but it is a race because he’s getting closer and closer, and there’s not much time left,” he said.

The North says the Hwasong-15 missile fired Wednesday can be tipped with a “super-large heavy warhead” capable of striking the whole US mainland.

But analysts remain unconvinced that it has mastered the advanced technology to allow the rocket to survive re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere.

The months-long nuclear standoff between Kim and Trump has fuelled concerns of another conflict, after the 1950-53 Korean War left much of the peninsula in ruin.

But even some Trump advisers say US military options are limited when Pyongyang could launch an artillery barrage on the South Korean capital Seoul — only around 50 kilometres from the border and home to 10 million people.

North Korea holds mass celebrations for latest missile test

December 2, 2017


© AFP | North Korean soldiers attend a mass rally to celebrate the North’s declaration on November 29 it had achieved full nuclear statehood, on Kim Il-Sung Square in Pyongyang

SEOUL (AFP) – North Korea held mass celebrations for its latest successful long-range missile test, Pyongyang’s state media said Saturday, with a propaganda-filled display of fireworks and dancing in public squares.The ruling Workers Party official daily Rodong Sinmun covered its front page with colour photographs showing thousands of tightly packed soldiers and people applauding in Pyongyang’s Kim Il-Sung square, which was decorated with large portraits of the North’s late leaders.

“We heartily celebrate the successful test launch of the Hwasong-15 which showed Chosun (North Korea)’s power and greatness to the whole world”, read one banner held up by the crowd, referring to the missile.

In this photo provided on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects an intercontinental ballistic missile test in North Korea on Wednesday, Nov. 29 Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP

North Korea on Wednesday successfully tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile, with leader Kim Jong-Un declaring his country had now achieved full nuclear statehood.

The US in response warned that Kim Jong-Un’s regime would be “utterly destroyed” if its pursuit of a long-range nuclear missile arsenal provokes a military clash, and has battled to maintain international solidarity in the face of North Korea’s nuclear threat.

Kim himself was absent from the celebrations — he usually stays away from such events — but Friday’s gathering drew key military, party and government leaders.

“Long Live the General Kim Jong-Un who has brought us the great historic cause of nuclear statehood”, another banner read.

Vice Chairman Pak Kwang-Ho of the party’s decision-making Central Committee told the crowd that, after Wednesday’s test launch, “now no one can infringe our sovereignty and rights to survive and develop”, according to the daily.

He said that the United States had been “jolted” at the strengthening of North Korea’s nuclear force and could attempt to commit “robber-like” provocative acts.

He repeated Kim’s warning that the North would respond with the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history”.

Kim first made the threat in September in response to US President Donald Trump’s UN speech threatening to destroy the North and mocking him as “Little Rocket Man”.

The ICBM Hwasong-15 type weaponry system used in Wednesday’s test is an intercontinental ballistic rocket tipped with super-large heavy warhead capable of striking the whole mainland of the US, the North said.

But analysts remain unconvinced that the North has mastered the technology required to launch and direct a missile, and ensure it survives the difficult re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Tensions are expected to rise further in the coming week as South Korea and the United States launch a massive air force drill mobilising some 230 aircraft including six US F-22 Raptor stealth jet fighters.

This Nov. 29, 2017, image provided by the North Korean government on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, third from left, and what the North Korean government calls the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile, in North Korea (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Germany to cut diplomatic mission in North Korea

November 30, 2017


© AFP | Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, meeting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the State Department, confirms that Berlin is reducing its diplomatic footprint in North Korea

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Germany will reduce its diplomatic mission in Pyongyang and require North Korea to reduce its presence in Berlin, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Thursday after meeting his US counterpart.US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson welcomed Gabriel to the State Department as Washington is turning up the pressure on its allies to do more to isolate Kim Jong-Un’s defiant nuclear-armed regime.

“We have already reduced our embassy staff in North Korea and will do so once more,” Gabriel told reporters afterwards, adding that two diplomats have been withdrawn and one more will follow.

More Germans may leave the embassy, but this will be carried out in consultation with Germany’s European allies, some of whom also have missions in the North.

“We have also told the North Koreans that they will have to reduce their embassy staff,” he said, adding: “We are thus increasing the diplomatic pressure.”

The Tillerson-Gabriel meeting came after President Donald Trump complained that China has failed to persuade Kim to halt his nuclear and ballistic missile program and as Washington calls for a fuel embargo.


Russia rejects US call to cut North Korea ties (Dear Donald Trump: Russia is not your friend.)

November 30, 2017


© AFP/File | Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow rejected a US call to cut ties with North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia on Thursday rejected a US call to cut ties with North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.”We see this negatively,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists in the Belarusian capital Minsk, Russian news agencies reported.

“We have repeatedly stated that the pressure of sanctions has been exhausted.”

He accused the United States of seeking to provoke Kim Jong-Un’s regime and demanded to know whether Washington was plotting to destroy the isolated country.

“It’s as if the recent actions of the United States are consciously directed to provoke Pyongyang towards other radical actions,” Russia’s top diplomat said.

“The Americans need to explain what they are aiming for. If they are looking for a reason to destroy North Korea, then they should say it straight and the American leadership should confirm it,” Lavrov was quoted as saying.

On Wednesday, Washington warned that North Korea’s leadership will be “utterly destroyed” if war breaks out as it called on countries to cut all diplomatic and trade ties with North Korea.

The latest threat came after North Korea tested its third ICBM, which it claimed was capable of striking anywhere in the United States.

“If war comes, make no mistake: the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed,” US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said.

US President Donald Trump derided Kim as a “sick puppy” and threatened “major” new sanctions.

The Kremlin on Wednesday called the latest missile test a “provocative action” and appealed for calm on all sides.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has emerged as one of the most strident voices against punishing Pyongyang, insisting that further sanctions and threats are “useless” against a regime that feels cornered.

The United States earlier this year pressed for a full United Nations Nikki Haleyon North Korea but dropped that demand following resistance from China and Russia.


U.S. Urges World to Cut Ties With North Korea

November 30, 2017

Trump administration seeks to isolate Kim regime following a new missile test by Pyongyang that experts say can reach Washington D.C.

United States ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Nikki Haley speaks on the sidelines of the Security Council on November 29, 2017

United Nations—The U.S. called Wednesday on all countries to suspend diplomatic ties with North Korea and asked that China stop crude oil trade with Pyongyang as diplomats met at an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting.

The council convened for the 13th time this year to debate how the international community should confront North Korea’s rapidly accelerating ballistic missile capability.

Pyongyang on Wednesday fired an intercontinental ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan, displaying range that experts said could reach Washington, D.C., placing the entire continental U.S. under potential military and nuclear threat.

The test marked North Korea’s third ICBM and 20th ballistic missile launch in 2017, U.N. officials said.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said the regime’s action “brings the world closer to war, not further from it.” She said that Washington didn’t seek war, but added: “If war comes, make no mistake, the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed.”

Diplomats debated for close to two hours over tools for exerting further political and economic pressure against the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Ms. Haley said the council had options: to revoke North Korea’s U.N. privileges and voting rights; call on all member states to suspend diplomatic, scholarly and trade relations; demand countries expel North Korean workers and sanction the country’s crude oil imports.

Twenty countries have already cut diplomatic ties with North Korea, Ms. Haley said. But many others, including some U.S. allies like the U.K., still have embassies and diplomats in the country.

No action was taken Wednesday, but Washington’s list of demands could be a hard sell to the council and many member states.

China and Russia are opposed to measures such as blocking oil trade because of the potential impact on North Korea’s economy and consumers, particularly in winter months.

On Wednesday, China and Russia both called for restraint in rhetoric and condemned Pyongyang’s missile launch. Both ambassadors said the only solution to the conflict was political but also expressed concern that hopes for a diplomatic solution were diminishing.

“Prospects for normalizing the situation on Korean Peninsula continue to be very distant,” said Russia’s Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia.

Some diplomats, including U.N. Undersecretary for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, told the council that civilians were suffering from food insecurity and that sanctions had impeded the ability of aid agencies to conduct humanitarian relief work in North Korea.

Some diplomats, including several Security Council members, have said their capitals still see value in maintaining diplomatic relations and having a presence on the ground in Pyongyang. They said they believe a total diplomatic blackout would diminish the prospects for a resolution to the crisis.

Expelling North Korea from the U.N. or revoking its privileges also wouldn’t be an easy feat. Membership to the U.N. is decided by a vote in the General Assembly at the recommendation of the Security Council. An expulsion of a country also would need a majority vote of the 193-member assembly, and has no precedent.

Diplomats said discussions would continue on the council’s next steps and actions and it remained unclear whether or not a new sanctions resolution would materialize.

Italy’s Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, the rotating president of the council this month and the chair of the North Korea sanctions committee, briefed the council on status of implementation of current sanctions. Mr.Cardi said that more member states reported implementing the latest resolution than previous times.

Write to Farnaz Fassihi at

N. Korea trade sanctions bite on borders with China, Russia

November 30, 2017


© AFP / by Sebastien BERGER | Eight sets of UN sanctions have been imposed on Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile tests, and things are unlikely to get any better after Wednesday’s launch

RASON (NORTH KOREA) (AFP) – At the northeastern tip of North Korea, where the isolated, nuclear-armed country meets its giant neighbours China and Russia, United Nations sanctions on the regime over its weapons programmes are having an impact.And with the North possibly facing further sanctions following its ICBM missile test on Wednesday, things are unlikely to get any easier for traders involved with the remote region’s Rason Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

Rason is one of Pyongyang’s showpiece development projects, looking to exploit its geographical location between the borders with China and Russia, and the Pacific Ocean.

Formally established in 1991, it was the first of its kind in the country and has only come up to speed in recent years, but officials are defiant about the setbacks.

Foreign firms are given tax, visa and legal concessions — they can set up wholly-owned units, rather than joint ventures — to lure them to the SEZ, as leader Kim Jong-Un seeks to pursue a policy of “byungin”, or “simultaneous development”, of both the economy and atomic arms.

But eight sets of UN Security Council sanctions have been imposed on Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

North Korean coal exports have been banned, leaving the material piling up on quaysides in Rason, as have iron ore and seafood.

The most recent resolution — passed in September after Pyongyang detonated by far its most powerful nuclear device to date — forbade trading in textiles and imposed limits on oil supplies to it.

“There is some impact,” said Han Yue, deputy manager of the Chinese-owned Rason Songsin Building Materials cement plant.

“Many things can?t be imported from China anymore because of the UN sanctions, in terms of the transfer of funds from both sides you could say it has been cut off.”

Beijing — Pyongyang’s sole major ally — has long been accused of failing to enforce UN resolutions against its wayward neighbour, with US President Donald Trump constantly demanding it do more.

– ‘People don’t have money’ –

But Han — aged 43, who comes from Singtai in Hebei province, next to Beijing — said China’s actions had slowed development and construction in Rason.

“This is affecting our sales,” he said, with parts imports another problem. “Because of the economic sanctions, so far this year we have only completed 70 percent of the output of last year.”

The company was seeking North Korean suppliers for the limestone and coal raw materials it has so far brought in from China, he said, and measures on oil and natural gas were affecting ordinary citizens. “We see fewer vehicles on the road.”

Cho Bong-hyun, director of the IBK Economic Research Institute in Seoul, said increasingly strong sanctions were likely to deal “a big blow” to the economy at Rason.

“North Korea’s plans for the development of these economic zones will be hard to carry out for now,” he added.

There used to be more than 5,000 foreign businessmen in Rason, around 80 percent of them Chinese, but officials privately admit some have left.

Chinese trader Pai Yuenlong has been selling shoes in North Korea for a decade, and would also like to switch businesses.

“Of course there’s an impact. People don’t have money, there’s little consumption,” he said. “But I have massive stocks, so I can’t change even though I want to.”

Even so, North Korean officials insist they will not be cowed — and are working on ways to minimise the effects of sanctions.

So far around 500 million euros ($595 million) have been invested in the SEZ, a third of it by North Korea and the rest by foreign investors, according to Kim Yong Nam, who has the challenging task of trying to draw in foreign investors as director of the Rason local government’s economic co-operation bureau.

– Crumpled tin can –

“Of course, it is poorer than the previous period,” he says of trade with China. “But only fisheries have been affected,” he said, and the impact was “not that big”.

North Korean seafood producers could sell their products domestically instead, he added.

The textile trade ban is clearly on his mind. Asked about its impact, he responds instantly that it only comes into force on December 11, and so has had no effect yet.

“We can manufacture other textile goods with our clothing manufacturing facilities so we are making adjustments in that direction,” Kim said. “It could be things like bags and gloves.”

According to the US mission to the United Nations, North Korea earned an average of $760 million from textile exports in the past three years.

The SEZ is looking to develop transshipment trade, Kim said, bringing in more Chinese and Russian goods to ship them on to other destinations from the renovated port of Rajin.

Tourism is another growth target — despite winter temperatures that fall to minus 30 Celsius (minus 22 Fahrenheit) cold enough for the sea to freeze — as are services.

“Sanctions will have little impact on us,” Kim insisted. “I am over 50 and I’ve been hearing the word ‘sanction’ almost since my birth but we are still alive and well.

“We Korean people know how to survive under sanctions,” he went on.

“We are nothing like a tin can that simply crumples when it is beaten. We are more like steel that becomes stronger when you pound it”.

by Sebastien BERGER