Posts Tagged ‘nuclear program’

China to Send Envoy to North Korea After Trump’s Visit to Beijing

November 15, 2017

U.S. president pushed for more action from Beijing to pressure Pyongyang over its nuclear program

Song Tao, wearing a headset, will leave for North Korea on Friday.Photo: Astafyev Alexander/Zuma Press

China said it would send a special envoy to North Korea, according to the official Xinhua News Agency, days after U.S. President Donald Trump pushed for more action from Beijing to pressure Pyongyang over its nuclear program.

Song Tao, a special envoy of President Xi Jinping, will leave for North Korea on Friday, Xinhua said. It said the visit would include briefings on last month’s Communist Party congress, citing a Wednesday announcement by the international department of the party’s Central Committee.

The U.S. has repeatedly pushed Beijing to do more to pressure North Korea to slow its development of nuclear weapons, and Mr. Trump did so again during his summit with Mr. Xi in Beijing.

It wasn’t clear from the Xinhua report whether Pyongyang’s nuclear program would be on the agenda during Mr. Song’s visit, or how long he would be in North Korea.

During his almost two weeks in Asia, Mr. Trump emphasized his personal rapport with regional leaders and several times called for China’s help on North Korea, including in an address before South Korea’s National Assembly. As he left the region on Tuesday, Mr. Trump said he thought he had secured a commitment from Mr. Xi on the issue.


  • A North Korean Defector’s Dash to Freedom
  • In China, Trump Employs Tough Talk, Flattery With Xi (Nov. 9)
  • China Orders Shutdown of North Korea-Connected Businesses (Sept. 28)
  • China to Cut Oil Exports to North Korea (Sept. 23)

Mr. Xi and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un have never met, and relations between Beijing and Pyongyang have grown tense this year as the Kim regime has advanced its weapons program.

While wary of enacting measures that could bring about North Korea’s collapse, Beijing has moved to enforce United Nations sanctions on its neighbor, including bans on North Korean trade in coal, iron ore and textiles, and curbs on oil trade.

High-level meetings between Chinese and North Korean officials have taken place about once a year in recent years. Mr. Xi met with North Korean officials, including Mr. Song’s counterpart, Ri Su Yong, in Beijing in 2016, and Mr. Song visited North Korea in October 2015 as part of a delegation that met with Mr. Kim.

Since the conclusion of the party congress, Mr, Song has also visited Laos and Vietnam and briefed them about the congress, according to Xinhua reports.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency also announced the planned visit from Mr. Song.

Song Tao, wearing a headset, will leave for North Korea on Friday.Photo: Astafyev Alexander/Zuma Press

Separately on Wednesday, North Korea lashed Mr. Trump as an “old lunatic” and “human reject” in its first direct response to the U.S. president’s National Assembly speech in Seoul last week.

Mr. Trump devoted much of his 35-minute-long speech before the legislature to listing North Korea’s human-rights abuses in unusual detail. He also appealed directly to Mr. Kim to choose a different path and referenced Mr. Kim’s grandfather, the founder of the North Korean state who in death remains the country’s “eternal president.”

On Wednesday, a commentary in North Korea’s main party newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, accused Mr. Trump of attacking the country’s supreme leadership and having “painted a black picture of the DPRK,” using shorthand for the country’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

It added that Mr. Trump’s remarks “cannot but be viewed as the final confirmation of the White House’s policy hostile to the DPRK…and an open declaration of war not to allow the existence of the Korean people any more.”

“He will be forced to pay dearly for his blasphemy any moment,” the commentary read. It didn’t specify what kind of countermeasures it would deploy.

Write to Jonathan Cheng at


Iran’s Parliament increases funding for missiles after U.S. sanctions — Lawmakers shouted: “Death to America.”

August 13, 2017


© Atta Kenare, AFP | Members of Iran’s Armed Forces attend President Hassan Rouhani’s swearing-in ceremony in Tehran on August 5, 2017. Rouhani warned the US against tearing up the nuclear deal as he was inaugurated for a second term.


Latest update : 2017-08-13

Iran’s parliament voted Sunday to allocate $520 million to develop its missile programme to fight Washington’s “adventurism” and sanctions, and to boost the foreign operations of the country’s Revolutionary Guards.

“The Americans should know that this was our first action,” said speaker Ali Larijani, after announcing an overwhelming majority vote for a package “to confront terrorist and adventurist actions by the United States in the region”.

A total of 240 lawmakers voted for the bill, out of the 244 parliamentarians present.

The vote came after fresh US sanctions in July against Iran, targeting Tehran’s missile programme.

“The bill is backed by the foreign ministry and the government and is part of measures by the JCPOA supervision committee to confront the recent US Congress law,” deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi.

He was referring to a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, known officially as the JCPOA, under which Iran agreed to strict limits on its nuclear programme in exchange for an easing of sanctions.

The bill mandates the government to allocate an additional $260 million for the “development of the missile programme” and the same amount to the Revolutionary Guards’s foreign operations wing, the Quds Force, state news agency IRNA said.

After Larijani announced the vote results, lawmakers shouted: “Death to America.”

Iranian Convicted of Being Spy in UAE Gets 10-Year Sentence

August 10, 2017

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — An Iranian convicted of being a spy in the United Arab Emirates and trying to smuggle equipment for the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The state-run WAM news agency reported late Wednesday that 48-year-old man, identified only by the initials H.R.M.H.M., imported the equipment from the U.S. with the intention of sending it onto Iran.

The report said the man would be deported after serving his sentence.

Iran long has described its nuclear program as peaceful. Western fears over it prompted sanctions later lifted by the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, which capped its enrichment of uranium.

In April, a UAE court sentenced another Iranian identified by the initials S.M.A.R. to 10 years in prison for similarly trying to aid Iran’s nuclear program.

Trump Boasts U.S. Nuclear Arsenal Is ‘More Powerful Than Ever’

August 10, 2017

President’s Twitter comments follow North Korea’s threat that it was considering firing missiles at Guam

People walk by a TV screen showing a local news program reporting with an image of U.S. President Donald Trump at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, on Wednesday.
People walk by a TV screen showing a local news program reporting with an image of U.S. President Donald Trump at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, on Wednesday. PHOTO: LEE JIN-MAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Trump administration on Wednesday sought to keep pressure on North Korea to curb its nuclear ambitions, while also moving to lessen the alarm President Donald Trump sparked a day earlier when he threatened Pyongyang with attack.

North Korea on Thursday morning local time said “sound dialogue is not possible” with Mr. Trump and repeated the threat it made a day earlier to fire at the U.S.’s Pacific territory of Guam, saying it could surround Guam in “enveloping fire” by launching four intermediate-range Hwasong-12 missiles at the island. Pyongyang said the missiles would land about 20 miles offshore and could be launched as soon as mid-August.

In a series of statements, U.S. administration officials took a step back from Mr. Trump’s threat to hit North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen,” but stood by a warning of serious retaliation should North Korean leader Kim Jong Un strike the U.S. or its allies.

Mr. Trump touted the strength of the American nuclear arsenal in a message Wednesday morning on Twitter from his resort in Bedminster, N.J., but he tempered his rhetoric from the previous day.

“Hopefully we will never have to use this power,” Mr. Trump wrote, “but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!”

My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before….

…Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!

The White House also said Mr. Trump was using his own words when he made the “fire and fury” remarks on Tuesday, but press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president discussed the “tone and strength” of the message beforehand with advisers including White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

When asked if Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was aware of the remarks beforehand, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the secretary of state spoke with the president “after the fact.”

Sources: South Korea Ministry of National Defense, Union of Concerned Scientists (ranges); (bases)

Mr. Tillerson on Wednesday also looked to defuse the tension, stating that Mr. Trump’s “fire and fury” comment didn’t indicate the U.S. was moving toward a preemptive military attack on North Korea’s rapidly advancing nuclear weapons and missile program.

The secretary of state instead championed the diplomatic effort to pressure North Korea into disarmament talks.

U.S. on North Korea: ‘We’re Speaking With One Voice’
At a State Department press conference on Wednesday, spokeswoman Heather Nauert responded to questions regarding President Donald Trump’s blunt warning to North Korea, in which he said the country’s threats would be “met with fire and fury.” Photo: AP

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests since 2006. What has worried U.S. officials most in recent months, though, is the rapid progression of the country’s program to field intercontinental ballistic missiles—long-range weapons that would allow North Korea to rocket warheads through the atmosphere to hit the continental U.S.

North Korea conducted its first ICBM test on July 4 and followed up with a second ICBM test on July 28 that experts said put the continental U.S. firmly in range of a strike.

U.S. officials believe the country has the capability to produce a nuclear warhead small enough to travel atop a missile. But they also think North Korea faces technical hurdles before such a warhead can withstand travel through the Earth’s atmosphere on an ICBM.

Mr. Tillerson said the president’s provocative message on Tuesday came in response to threatening statements Mr. Kim’s government made after the United Nations Security Council hit Pyongyang with new sanctions as punishment for its aggressive testing program.

“What the president is doing is sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong Un would understand, because he doesn’t seem to understand diplomatic language,” Mr. Tillerson said.

Is North Korea Close to Being a Nuclear Weapons State?
Recent news reports indicate North Korea may have succeeded in building a nuclear warhead that can fit atop of one of the regime’s intercontinental missiles. WSJ’s Gerald F. Seib examines what that means for the U.S., where President Donald Trump Tuesday threatened Pyongyang with “fire and fury.” Photo: AP

The secretary of state also sought to reassure the public. “Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days,” Mr. Tillerson said in Guam on his way back from a trip to Asia, adding that an attack on the island by North Korea was not imminent.

The top diplomat’s efforts to dial down the rhetoric left it to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to keep up the pressure by reaffirming his confidence that the American military would prevail over Mr. Kim’s regime in the event of any attack on the U.S.

Mr. Mattis warned North Korea that it is “grossly overmatched” by the U.S. and its allies and “would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates.”

North Korea, Mr. Mattis said, needs to “stand down in in its pursuit of nuclear weapons” and “cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.”

North Korea, meanwhile, stepped up its rhetoric on Thursday morning.

“The U.S. president at a [golf] links again let out a load of nonsense about ‘fire and fury,’ failing to grasp the on-going grave situation,” the official statement said, making a reference to Mr. Trump’s warning against North Korea from the clubhouse of his golf​course on Tuesday. “This is extremely getting on the nerves of the infuriated Hwasong artillerymen.”

The tensions rattled financial markets world-wide on Wednesday, interrupting a stock-market rally fueled by corporate earnings and global economic growth. Declines in the U.S. were relatively mild, but they came during what has been a placid stretch for markets. The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.7%, while South Korea’s benchmark Kospi index fell 1.1%.

China’s Foreign Ministry didn’t address pressure from the Trump administration to be more active in reining in its ally in Pyongyang, calling the situation “complicated and sensitive.” It appealed for calm and an early resumption of dialogue, as it usually does when tensions climb on the Korean Peninsula.

In an editorial published online Wednesday night, the populist, state-owned tabloid Global Times condemned Mr. Trump’s remarks, saying they threatened to exacerbate matters.

“Now that President Trump has used a strong metaphor like ‘fire and fury,’ the North Korean nuclear train, going through a dark cave, will continue to run forward towards an even darker destination,” said the tabloid, which is published by the Communist Party’s flagship newspaper People’s Daily.

The alarming tenor of Mr. Trump’s remarks on Tuesday—which came two days after his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said the U.S. was preparing for the possibility of “preventive war” with North Korea—overshadowed Mr. Tillerson’s efforts to lay the groundwork for negotiations with Pyongyang by pressuring the regime and gaining cooperation from China.

Before leaving for Asia last week, Mr. Tillerson announced in Washington that the U.S. wasn’t seeking a regime change in North Korea and didn’t plan to invade the country but that Pyongyang was presenting an unacceptable threat to Washington that required a response.

“We hope that at some point, they will begin to understand that and that we would like to sit and have a dialogue with them about the future that will give them the security they seek and the future economic prosperity for North Korea, but that will then promote economic prosperity throughout Northeast Asia,” Mr. Tillerson said Aug. 1.

Those comments contrasted starkly with suggestions about preemptive action that both Mr. Trump and Mr. McMaster raised subsequently.

“For those who do nuclear strategy, two parties that are talking about preemption simultaneously—that is the definition of instability,” said Stephan Haggard, director of the Korea-Pacific Program at the University of California San Diego.

The contrast led to a perception in some quarters that members of the Trump administration were reading from different scripts, risking a misinterpretation of the U.S.’s position in Pyongyang.

The State Department spokeswoman, Ms. Nauert, said that perception didn’t reflect reality. “I think the United States is all talking with one voice,” she said.

In brief comments to journalists during a trip to Seattle on Wednesday, Mr. Mattis said the goal of American policy isn’t merely to contain North Korea’s existing and growing nuclear program, but to roll it back and produce a nuclear-free Korean peninsula. That goal, he said, is shared by South Korea, China and Japan as well.

The distinction is important because some analysts have argued that the U.S. may have to accept and merely contain the nuclear program North Korea has built to this point, while others argue that the goal should be to roll it back.

Write to Paul Sonne at, Louise Radnofsky at and Jonathan Cheng at

Appeared in the August 10, 2017, print edition as ‘North Korea, U.S. Clash Sharpens.’

U.S. Aims for U.N. Vote on Saturday on New North Korea Sanctions

August 4, 2017

UNITED NATIONS — The United States is aiming for a United Nations Security Council vote on Saturday to impose stronger sanctions on North Korea over its two intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests in July, diplomats said on Friday.

The United States is set to circulate a copy of the draft resolution to all 15 members of the council on Friday, signaling a likely agreement by North Korean ally China to impose new measures, diplomats said.

A resolution needs nine votes in favor, and no vetoes by the United States, China, Russia, France or Britain to be adopted.

The United States and China have been negotiating the draft text for the past month. Typically, they agree sanctions on North Korea before formally involving other council members.

The United States has been informally keeping Britain and France in the loop on the bilateral negotiations, while U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said China had been sharing the draft and negotiating with Russia.

It was not immediately clear if poor relations between Russia and the United States, which imposed new unilateral sanctions on Moscow on Wednesday, would hamper the negotiations.

Moscow has disagreed with assessments by Western powers that Pyongyang launched two long-range missiles, saying they were mid-range. Diplomats say China and Russia only view a test of a long-range missile or a nuclear weapon as a trigger for further possible U.N. sanctions.

North Korea has been under U.N. sanctions since 2006 over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs and the Security Council has ratcheted up the measures in response to five nuclear weapons tests and two long-range missile launches.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Toni Reinhold and James Dalgleish)

U.S. May Soon Expand U.N. Talks on North Korea Sanctions, Signaling China Deal: Diplomats

August 3, 2017

UNITED NATIONS — The United States could shortly broaden talks on a push for stronger United Nations sanctions on North Korea to include all 15 Security Council members, signaling a likely deal with China on new measures, diplomats said on Thursday.

Since North Korea’s July 4 launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the United States has been negotiating with Pyongyang ally China on a draft resolution to impose new sanctions on North Korea, which fired a second ICBM last Friday.

“We have been working very hard for some time and we certainly hope that this is going to be a consensus resolution,” China’s U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi told Reuters on Thursday.

Some diplomats said the United States could give the draft resolution to all 15 council members as early as Thursday.

Typically, the United States and China have agreed sanctions on North Korea before formally involving other council members. A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, China, Russia, France or Britain to be adopted.

The United States has been informally keeping Britain and France in the loop on the negotiations, while U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said China had been sharing the draft and negotiating with Russia.

Haley said on Sunday the United States was “done talking about North Korea” and China must decide if it is willing to back imposing stronger U.N. sanctions.

However, Russia noted on Thursday that the permanent five (P5) veto powers had yet to formally discuss the draft. It was not immediately clear if poor relations between Russia and the United States, which imposed new unilateral sanctions on Russia on Wednesday, would hamper the negotiations.

“Even if there is an agreement between the U.S. and China, it doesn’t mean there is an agreement between the P5 members,” said Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, who met with Liu earlier on Thursday and discussed a possible resolution.

“Maybe there is a bilateral agreement (between Beijing and Washington), but that’s not a universal one,” he said, adding that while he was aware of what might be in the resolution he had not seen “the draft as it stands now.”

The U.S. mission to the United Nations declined to comment.

Haley said last week Russia’s engagement on the draft resolution would the “true test.” Moscow has disagreed with assessments by Western powers that Pyongyang has launched two long-range missiles, instead saying they were mid-range.

Diplomats say China and Russia only view a test of a long-range missile or nuclear weapon as a trigger for further possible U.N. sanctions.

North Korea has been under U.N. sanctions since 2006 over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs and the Security Council has ratcheted up the measures in response to five nuclear weapons tests and two long-range missile launches.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by James Dalgleish)

For China’s Global Ambitions, ‘Iran Is at the Center of Everything’

July 25, 2017

NEYSHABUR, Iran — When Zuao Ru Lin, a Beijing entrepreneur, first heard about business opportunities in eastern Iran, he was skeptical. But then he bought a map and began to envision the region without any borders, as one enormous market.

“Many countries are close by, even Europe,” Mr. Lin, 49, said while driving his white BMW over the highway connecting Tehran to the eastern Iranian city of Mashhad recently. “Iran is at the center of everything.”

For millenniums, Iran has prospered as a trading hub linking East and West. Now, that role is set to expand in coming years as China unspools its “One Belt, One Road” project, which promises more than $1 trillion in infrastructure investment — bridges, rails, ports and energy — in over 60 countries across Europe, Asia and Africa. Iran, historically a crossroads, is strategically at the center of those plans.

Like pieces of a sprawling geopolitical puzzle, components of China’s infrastructure network are being put in place. In eastern Iran, Chinese workers are busily modernizing one of the country’s major rail routes, standardizing gauge sizes, improving the track bed and rebuilding bridges, with the ultimate goal of connecting Tehran to Turkmenistan and Afghanistan.

Much the same is happening in western Iran, where railroad crews are working to link the capital to Turkey and, eventually, to Europe. Other rail projects will connect Tehran and Mashhad with deepwater ports in the country’s south.

Once dependent on Beijing during the years of international isolation imposed by the West for its nuclear program, Iran is now critical to China’s ability to realize its grandiose ambitions. Other routes to Western markets are longer and lead through Russia, potentially a competitor of China.

“It is not as if their project is canceled if we don’t participate,” said Asghar Fakhrieh-Kashan, the Iranian deputy minister of roads and urban development. “But if they want to save time and money, they will choose the shortest route.”

He added with a smile: “There are also political advantages to Iran, compared to Russia. They are highly interested in working with us.”

Mr. Lin visiting the Khavaran Alyaf Parsian polyester factory. He established his factories along what will be a key part of the “One Belt, One Road” trade route. Credit Arash Khamooshi for The New York Times

Others worry that with the large-scale Chinese investment and China’s growing presence in the Iranian economy, Tehran will become more dependent than ever on China, already its biggest trading partner.

China is also an important market for Iranian oil, and because of remaining unilateral American sanctions that intimidate global banks, it is the only source of the large amounts of capital Iran needs to finance critical infrastructure projects. But that, apparently, is a risk the leadership is prepared to take.

“China is dominating Iran,” said Mehdi Taghavi, an economics professor at Allameh Tabataba’i University in Tehran, adding that the “Iranian authorities do not see any drawbacks to being dependent on China. Together, we are moving ahead.”

It is not just roads and rail lines that Iran is getting from China. Iran is also becoming an increasingly popular destination for Chinese entrepreneurs like Mr. Lin. With a few words of Persian, as well as low-interest loans and tax breaks from the Chinese and Iranian governments, he has built a small empire since moving to Iran in 2002. His eight factories make a wide variety of goods that find markets in Iran and in neighboring countries.

“You can say that I was even more visionary than some of our politicians,” Mr. Lin said with a laugh. Since 2013, when the “One Belt, One Road” plan was started, he has had dozens of visitors from China and multiple meetings with the Chinese ambassador in Tehran. “I was a pioneer, and they want to hear my experiences,” he said.

Read the rest:

Secretary of State Tillerson: North Korea Must Come to the Table With a Plan to Roll Back, Not Just Freeze, Its Nuclear Program

July 8, 2017

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President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit at the G20 Summit, Friday, July 7, 2017, in Hamburg. (AP Photo by Evan Vucci)

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President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit, Friday, July 7, 2017, in Hamburg. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is at left, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is at right. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit at the G20 Summit, Friday, July 7, 2017, in Hamburg. (AP Photo by Evan Vucci)

Question:  We note China and Russia recently said — they asked North Korea to stop the — to freeze, actually, the nuclear activities, and also they asked the U.S. to stop the deployment of THAAD system.  So did President Putin bring up his concern about the deployment of THAAD system?  And also, what’s the expectation of President Trump on tomorrow’s meeting with President Xi Jinping, other than the DPRK issue?  Thank you.

SECRETARY TILLERSON:  The subject of THAAD did not come up in the meeting with President Putin.

In terms of the progress of North Korea and this last missile launch, again, those are some of the differences of views we have between ourselves in terms of tactics — how to deal with this.  President Putin, I think, has expressed a view not unlike that of China, that they would support a freeze for freeze.

If we study the history of the last 25 years of engagement with various regimes in North Korea, this has been done before.  And every time it was done, North Korea went ahead and proceeded with its program.

The problem with freezing now — if we freeze where they are today, we freeze their activities with a very high level of capability.  And we do not think it also sets the right tone for where these talks should begin.  And so we’re asking North Korea to be prepared to come to the table with an understanding that these talks are going to be about how do we help you chart a course to cease and roll back your nuclear program?  That’s what we want to talk about.  We’re not interested in talking about how do we have you stop where you are today.  Because stopping where they are today is not acceptable to us.

From the White House Press Briefing from the G20 in Germany, July 7, 2017

See it all:


By Jeff Mason | HAMBURG
Fri Jul 7, 2017 | 6:37pm EDT

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Friday there would not be many good options left on North Korea if the peaceful pressure campaign the United States has been pushing to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs failed.

“We have not given up hope,” Tillerson told reporters after U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met on the sidelines of a G20 summit, just days after North Korea conducted what it said was its first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

Tillerson said the U.S. approach of stepping up pressure on North Korea through sanctions required patience.

“I call it the peaceful pressure campaign … This is a campaign to lead us to a peaceful resolution because if this fails, we don’t have very many good options left,” he said. “It’s one that requires calculated increases in pressure, allow the regime to respond to that pressure, and it takes a little time to let these things happen.”

The United States, Japan and South Korea agreed on Friday to push for a quick U.N. Security Council resolution to apply new sanctions on North Korea. U.N. diplomats said the United States had given China a draft sanctions resolution.

But Washington faces an uphill struggle to convince Russia and China to give quick backing to new U.N. sanctions.

Experts say North Korea’s ICBM launch on Tuesday was a major step forward in its declared intent to create nuclear-tipped missiles capable of hitting the United States. Some U.S. experts say the missile appeared to have the range to hit Alaska, Hawaii and parts of the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

Washington has warned it is ready to use force if need be to stop North Korea’s weapons programs but the consequences of that could be catastrophic and it prefers global diplomatic action.

Russia has said further sanctions will not resolve the issue and on Thursday objected to a U.N. Security Council condemnation of North Korea’s launch because the U.S.-drafted statement labeled it an ICBM, a designation Moscow disagrees with. Diplomats said on Friday that negotiations on the statement had stalled.

U.S. President Donald Trump meets South Korea’s President Moon Jae-In and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ahead the G20 leaders summit in Hamburg, Germany July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Tillerson said Trump and Putin held differing views on how to deal with North Korea but that Washington would continue to press Moscow to help.

“We’re going to continue those discussions and ask them to do more. Russia does have economic activity with North Korea,” he said.


Trump is due to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose country is North Korea’s main trading partner, on the sidelines of the G20 on Saturday. Trump has warned Beijing it could face U.S. economic and trade pressure unless it does more to rein in North Korea.

Tillerson said China’s responses to U.S. calls for it step up pressure on North Korea had been uneven.

“China has taken significant action and then I think for a lot of different reasons, they’ve paused and didn’t take additional action,” he said.

Referring to a U.S. decision last week to impose unilateral sanctions on two Chinese individuals and a shipping firm and to accuse a Chinese bank of money laundering, he said:

“We’ve continued to make that clear to China that we would prefer they take the action themselves and we’re still calling upon them to do that.”

Tillerson said a Chinese and Russian proposal for the United States and South Korea to suspend joint military exercises in return for a freeze in North Korean weapons testing was unacceptable as it would freeze North Korea’s programs at too high a level of capability.

“We’re asking North Korea to be prepared to come to the table with an understanding that these talks are going to be about how do we help you chart a course to cease and roll back your nuclear program. That’s what we want to talk about.

“We’re not interested in talking about how do we have you stop where you are today.”

North Korea on Friday described Tuesday’s missile test as a “gift package” and vowed to deliver more.

“The U.S. will receive more ‘gift packages’ of different sizes from the DPRK (North Korea) in endless succession, as it tries harder to destroy, by means of sanctions and pressure, the overall national power and strategic position of the DPRK which have been drastically boosted,” the official KCNA news agency quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said on Wednesday she would propose new sanctions to the 15-member U.N. Security Council in coming days.

Traditionally, the United States and China have negotiated new sanctions on North Korea before formally involving other council members.

Following a nuclear weapons test by North Korea in September it took the U.N. Security Council three months to agree strengthened sanctions.

(Reporting by Tim Ahmann, David Alexander and David Brunnstrom in Washington and Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; Writing by David Brunnstrom; Editing by James Dalgleish and Bill Trott)

Russia Blocks U.N. Condemnation of North Korea Missile Over ICBM Label

July 6, 2017

UNITED NATIONS — Russia objected on Thursday to a United Nations Security Council condemnation of North Korea’s latest rocket launch because the U.S.-drafted statement referred to it as an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), diplomats said.

Security Council statements have to be agreed by all 15-members. It was not immediately clear if the United States would continue to negotiate with Russia in an effort to reach a council consensus on a statement of condemnation.

Moscow has said it believes Pyongyang fired an intermediate range ballistic missile on Tuesday, while China has not identified the rocket launched. North Korea said it tested an ICBM and the United States said that was likely true.

“The rationale is that based on our (Ministry of Defence’s) assessment we cannot confirm that the missile can be classified as an ICBM,” Russia’s U.N. mission said in an email to its Security Council colleagues.

“Therefore we are not in a position to agree to this classification on behalf of the whole council since there is no consensus on this issue,” the email said.

The council met on Wednesday to discuss the missile launch by North Korea, which has been under U.N. sanctions since 2006 over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley denounced Russia’s reluctance to recognize that North Korea had test-launched an ICBM, which some experts believe has the range to reach the U.S. states of Alaska and Hawaii.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley

“If you need any sort of intelligence to let you know that the rest of the world sees this as an ICBM, I’m happy to provide it,” she told the Security Council on Wednesday.

The draft statement said the council would start work on “further significant measures” against North Korea. Since 2006 the council has ratcheted up sanctions on Pyongyang in response to five nuclear tests and two long-range missile launches.

Haley said on Wednesday the United States would propose new U.N. sanctions in coming days and warned that if Russia and China did not support the move, then “we will go our own path.” She said Washington was ready to use force “if we must.”

“If you are happy with North Korea’s actions, veto it. If you want to be a friend to North Korea, veto it,” Haley said of her plan to propose new sanctions.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Trump joins G7 summit on climate, trade and terrorism — “Bringing the different positions closer together.”

May 26, 2017

G7 leaders are meeting with US President Donald Trump in Italy to press him on issues like terrorism and trade. Trump’s stance on climate change has proven to be especially contentious.

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 German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Donald Trump pose for a family photo with G7 leaders at the Ancient Greek Theater of Taormina, Friday, May 26, 2017, in Taormina, Italy. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) began talks Friday in the ancient Italian town of Taormina on Sicily, to discuss the world economy and other global issues.

The two-day summit, at a cliff-top hotel overlooking the Mediterranean brings four fresh faces to the meeting, with the new leaders of the UK, France, Italy and the United States joining veteran G7 leaders from Germany, Canada and Japan.

“No doubt, this will be the most challenging G7 summit in years,” President of the European Council Donald Tusk said before the meeting.

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The summit has been billed as a major test for consensus-building, particularly over seemingly irreconcilable differences between US President Donald Trump and the world’s other major democracies over his stances on trade, migration and climate change.

“It won’t be an easy discussion,” summit host and caretaker Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni admitted the evening before the meeting. “The Italian presidency will try to ensure it is a useful one, capable of bringing the different positions closer together.”

It is also hoped that the final declaration will make clear some of Trump’s positions that have confounded other G7 leaders.


In the wake of this week’s terror attack in Manchester G7 leaders have united against terrorism. But even on this normally uniting issue friction emerged after Britain yesterday said it had temporarily stopped sharing some information about the Manchester investigation with US intelligence over leaks to the media.

Trump is expected to ask G7 nations to contribute more money to fight against terrorism.  On other security issues — including Syria, Libya and North Korea – there is broad agreement. But differences may emerge over issues like Trump’s plan to reduce US funding for UN peacekeeping operations. 

EU Council President Donald Tusk said on Friday he agreed with Trump on the necessity to fight terrorism. “I totally agreed with him when he said the international community, the G7, the United States, Europe – should be tough, even brutal, with terrorism and ISIS” – an alternate acronym for the so-called “Islamic State” (IS).

Trump meanwhile reached an agreement with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday to expand sanctions against North Korea, as Pyongyang ramps up its missile and nuclear programs. “President Trump and Prime Minister Abe agreed their teams would cooperate to enhance sanctions on North Korea, including by identifying and sanctioning entities that support North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs,” the White House said in a statement following the leaders’ meeting in Sicily.

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Climate change

One of the most contentious issues between Trump and fellow G7 leaders has been climate change. Trump has questioned human-induced climate change and may pull the US out of the landmark 2015 Paris climate change deal.

On Friday, Trump’s economic adviser, Gary Cohn, said the the president’s views on climate changing are “evolving” and that he “feels much more knowledgeable” on the topic than he did previously.

A spokesperson for Germany’s environment ministry said the country is “lobbying at all levels right now for the US to remain in the Paris Agreement.”

G7 Gipfel Angela Merkel und Donald Trump (Getty Images/M.Medina)German officials have been lobyying the US to stick with Paris climate deal

Nikolai Fichter also told reporters that Germany views environmental protection as “a modernization program for national economies,” dismissing the suggestion put forth by US economic adviser Gary Cohn that measures to curtail global warming could have a negative impact on the economy.

In Brussels on Thursday, European leaders including new French President Emmanuel Macron met with Trump to press the president on climate change.

Trump has said that he will not make a decision on the Paris deal until after the G7 meeting. He is likely to discover, if he already hasn’t, that climate change for other G7 members is not just a question about the environment but also about security.


Another sticking point is trade amid concern Trump is pursuing protectionist policies under his “America First” policy.  The new US administration earlier this year at the G20 finance ministers meeting in Germany blocked a pro-free trade declaration.

Trump has also vowed to renegotiate NAFTA, pulled the US from the TPP Asian trade pact, and put negotiations for a trade and investment treaty with Europe known as TTIP on ice.

G7 Gipfel runder Tisch (Getty Images/)Security, trade and the environment are the key issues on the table at this G7 meeting

In Berlin, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer responded to Trump’s suggestion that bilateral deals might be reached between Washington and individual EU member states. Schaefer reiterated that the EU “has a common trade policy that is implemented by the European Commission” and that the bloc “has done very well as an increasingly big and powerful economic bloc by agreeing trade deals for the [entire] union and for individual member states.”

He added that it could be “thorn in the side” of the US that the EU “is probably a stronger and more powerful trade bloc than the United States of America or NAFTA.”

cw/rc (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)