GENEVA (Reuters) - The United States called on Wednesday for “concerted action” by the international community to pressure North Korea into abandoning its banned nuclear and missile programmes and said it was working on new sanctions.
Senior military officials from South Korea, Japan and the United States made lengthy, coordinated technical presentations on North Korea’s weapons programmes to the U.N.-sponsored Conference on Disarmament.
U.S. disarmament ambassador Robert Wood later said the session had amounted to “a global condemnation and frankly an indictment of North Korea” for violating U.N. Security Council resolutions on its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
“The time for debate has long passed; those dangers are clear; and it is now time for concerted action,” he said in an opening speech to the Geneva forum.
“The goal of using such sanctions is to pressure the government of North Korea to abandon its prohibited programmes and activities, not to punish the people or economy of North Korea or other countries,” he said.
But full enforcement of the sanctions by all states was necessary, he added.
President Donald Trump said on Wednesday “talking is not the answer” to the standoff with North Korea, although his defence chief swiftly asserted that the United States still had diplomatic options.
North Korean diplomat Ju Yong Chol reasserted its right to “self-defence” and defended its latest ballistic missile which flew over Japan. This was in response to the joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises, he told the session.
“Therefore yesterday’s launch conducted by our army was a prelude of its resolute counter-measures against its military exercises,” Ju told the forum.
Japan pushed the United States on Wednesday to propose new U.N. Security Council sanctions on North Korea, which diplomats said could target the country’s labourers working abroad, oil supply and textile exports.
Wood, speaking to reporters, said discussions were under way between world powers on what kind of further sanctions could be taken.
“But we are obviously going to look at a whole range of different measures to put pressure on Pyongyang and we will work with our allies, with other partners, with China and Russia, to see what more we can do,” he said.
“And we will look at what we can do unilaterally.”
Wood called for China to put pressure on its isolated ally to “stop these provocative acts”.
“China particularly has some very unique influence with the North. It needs to use that influence,” Wood said.
North Korea’s Ju said: “Any sanction or pressure on the DPRK to isolate it will meet with failure. I would wish to conclude by quoting a famous saying that ‘dogs bark but the caravan moves on’.”
Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Alison Williams