VLADIVOSTOK: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his South Korean counterpart on Thursday (Sep 7) struggled to grind down Russian resistance to new sanctions on Pyongyang over its nuclear test as Vladimir Putin appeared to give little ground.
The United States on Wednesday demanded that the United Nations slap an oil embargo on North Korea and a freeze on the foreign assets of its leader Kim Jong-Un in a dramatic bid to force an end to the perilous nuclear stand-off.
“The international community must unite in applying the greatest possible pressure on North Korea,” Abe said in a speech alongside Putin and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in at an economic forum in Vladivostok.
“We must make North Korea immediately and fully comply with all relevant UN Security Council resolutions and abandon all its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner,” Abe said.
The call came just four days after Pyongyang staged its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date on Sunday, claiming a “perfect success” in testing a hydrogen bomb.
South Korea has pushed for more punishment and Moon in Vladivostok said that “perhaps the time has come for stronger sanctions” on Pyongyang.
China on Thursday signalled it would support the United Nations taking further measures against North Korea following the test.
“Given the new developments on the Korean peninsula, China agrees that the UN Security Council should respond further by taking necessary measures,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a press conference in Beijing.
“We believe that sanctions and pressure are only half of the key to resolving the issue. The other half is dialogue and negotiation,” Wang added.
Putin has repeatedly insisted that further economic pressure on Pyongyang will not work and insisted that the only route is diplomacy.
“It is impossible to intimidate them,” Putin said in Vladivostok, calling for “common sense” to prevail in the US.
After Putin and Abe finished talks, there was little sign that the two leaders had drawn closer.
Abe said they had agreed to cooperate at the UN, and Putin once again reiterated his line that “only diplomacy and political means” can resolve the crisis.
US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the United States would be seeking a vote at the council on new sanctions on Sep 11.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “discussions are continuing” over the US proposal and it was “too early to express any conclusions”.
“Let’s wait for the results,” Peskov told journalists.
Meanwhile the EU said it is preparing to boost its own sanctions against North Korea, as part of international efforts to punish the rogue state.
“I will put forward to ministers to work in the coming days to increase EU autonomous sanctions,” diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said as she arrived for a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Tallinn.
CELEBRATIONS IN PYONGYANG
Despite the mounting pressure on leader Kim Jong-Un, the message from Pyongyang remains one of fierce defiance.
North Korea held a mass celebration for the scientists involved in carrying out its largest nuclear blast to date, with fireworks and a huge rally in Pyongyang.
Citizens of the capital lined the streets on Wednesday to wave pink and purple pom-poms and cheer a convoy of buses carrying the specialists into the city, tossing confetti over them as they walked into Kim Il-Sung Square.
In a sign of the international stakes over Pyongyang’s latest test, China said on Thursday that it had lodged a diplomatic protest with South Korea following its announcement it would increase deployments of a US anti-missile system.
The rebuke came as South Korea and the United States completed the deployment of a US missile defence system to counter North Korean threats,
A convoy of US military trucks carrying four launchers for the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system made their way through an activists’ blockade at a former golf course in the southern county of Seongju.
In a phone call with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, US President Donald Trump on Wednesday insisted that military action against North Korea was not his “first choice” and pushed for a diplomatic option.