Sanctions may not halt North Korea nuclear program

NKOREA-POLITICS-DEFENCE

In what might be a last-ditch effort at reaching a diplomatic solution with an increasingly volatile North Korea, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to pass a new round of sanctions on North Korea on Saturday, in hopes of getting Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program.

The statement by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi came on the heels of a U.N. Security Council decision to impose additional sanctions on North Korea and its exports, and suggested that the American push to further isolate the regime of Kim Jung-un is reaping some dividends. The new sanctions, banning major North Korean exports such as coal and iron, are created to starve the regime of the money to pay for it -money that is also used to enrich the powerful elites and generals who, in turn, don't challenge Kim Jong Un's near total power.

Speaking at a regional security forum in Manila on Monday, Wang said the new resolution showed China and the global community's opposition to North Korea's continued missile tests, the foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

American and South Korean officials said they would move forward with large-scale military exercises later this month that North Korea, which has laid out plans to strike near the US territory of Guam, claims are a rehearsal for war.

China, North Korea's biggest ally and trade partner, backed the sanctions in a bid to spur dialogue.

China, North Korea's lone major ally, has repeatedly said it is committed to enforcing increasingly tough United Nations resolutions on North Korea, though it has also said what it terms "normal" trade and ordinary North Koreans should not be affected.

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Tillerson said Washington would not "specify a specific number of days or weeks" before deciding that North Korea had indeed stopped its tests. "We must be tough & decisive!", Trump wrote in a post on Twitter. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last week, "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".

Thornton says the USA wants to ensure that with the new sanctions, there's "not this kind of episodic back and forth that we've seen".

"We affirm that we'll never place our nuclear and ballistic missiles programme on the negotiating table, and won't budge an inch on strengthening nuclear armament".

Washington is leaving it to China to restate world powers' opposition to new nuclear bomb tests while the U.S. urges a halt in missile launches "which obviously is a much lower rhetorical barrier to resuming talks", the official said.

In characteristically understated fashion, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said of the United Nations action, "It was a good outcome".

Wang also pressed for a restart of six-party talks involving North and South Korea, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan.

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The THAAD systems stations in South Korea could track the launch of the missiles, but are unlikely to be able to shoot them down. The positions of warships are kept secret, but the USA and Japan could reposition its forces to defend the ocean close to Guam.

"It would be great if I could convey that (North Korea) ought to halt provocations and positively respond to our recent two proposals with regard to building a peace regime", she told reporters, referring to Seoul's offer of military and humanitarian talks last month.

Tillerson was in Manila for an annual meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), a 27-country, security-focused grouping that includes North Korea. There was no official discussion or talks between the two ministers at the time. USA officials rejected Beijing's call for the North to halt its nuclear program in exchange for the United States and South Korea suspending joint military exercises, which Pyongyang considers a prelude to an invasion and regime change.

"The North Korean regime is gonna have to make a choice".

China urged restraint from the USA and South Korea as well, calling on all sides to negotiate.

In a draft seen Sunday by The Korea Herald, the ministers displayed "grave concern" over Pyongyang's ICBM tests which resulted in an "escalation of tensions" in the region.

But Mr Tillerson appeared more conciliatory on Monday.

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