TILLERSON URGES TO CONFRONT N. KOREA OR FACE ‘CATASTROPHIC CONSEQUENCES’
“US Pacific Command detected what we assess was a North Korean missile launch at 10:33 am Hawaii time”.
Amid the increased tensions, two Japanese destroyers began a joint drill Sunday with a group of US warships, including the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, in the Western Pacific Ocean.
The North test-fired the same missile earlier this month in a launch that USA officials said also was a failure.
Trump tells Reuters he will either renegotiate or terminate what he calls a “horrible” free trade deal with South Korea and says Seoul should pay for a USA anti-missile system he prices at $1 billion.
China, the only major ally of North Korea, has been increasingly uncomfortable in recent months about its neighbour’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles in violation on United Nations resolutions. “Bad!” Trump wrote on Twitter a few hours after the failed launch.
“Diplomatic and financial leverage or power will be backed up by willingness to counteract North Korean aggression with military action, if necessary”, he said while chairing a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council.
He repeated Washington’s threat that United States military options were “on the table”.
The Trump administration could respond to North Korea’s latest failed missile test by speeding up its plans for new U.S. sanctions against Pyongyang, including possible measures against specific North Korean and Chinese entities, a USA official told Reuters on Friday.
The South Korean and Japanese assessments about Saturday’s launch indicate that the North fired the missile from a higher-than-normal angle to prevent it from flying too far, he said.
A view of the test-fire of Pukguksong-2 guided by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on the spot, in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang February 13, 2017.
He also called on for new sanctions to pressure Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear program.
US and South Korean officials say the launch apparently failed.
Adm. Harry Harris, leader of the United States military’s Pacific Command, recently told Congress that the North Korean conflict has reached the worst level he’s ever seen, but that ultimately he was confident of the US’s ability to defend against North Korea missile attacks.
Trump said there was “a chance” of “a major, major conflict” with the North – which would put the South, whose capital is within range of Pyongyang’s artillery, at risk of big casualties. The council has strengthened sanctions following each of North Korea’s five nuclear tests.
North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile Saturday in apparent defiance of a concerted U.S. push for tougher global sanctions to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons ambitions.
“Let me be clear, our goal is not to bring North Korea to its knees, but to it bring it back to the negotiating table for genuine denuclearization”, Yun added.
At the same meeting in New York, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida reiterated Japan’s stance that the recent atomic and missile tests by the North pose “a new level of threats” and are “absolutely intolerable”, he said on the official Facebook page of the Foreign Ministry. While shorter-range missiles are somewhat routine, there is strong outside worry about each longer-range North Korean ballistic test.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula have been rising as North Korea celebrates a number of key anniversaries, with both sides staging major military drills.
The ambassador, who sits on the UN Security Council, said, “That’s very disgraceful”. The Security Council traditionally condemns all missile launches by Pyongyang. “With each test, North Korea pushes Asia and the world closer to conflict”.