UN chief urges action against North Korea as Security Council discusses sanctions

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Members of the United Nations Security Council gathered in New York on Friday to discuss imposing further sanctions on North Korea, which conducted its fifth and largest nuclear test earlier in the day.

“This is yet another brazen breach of the resolutions of the Security Council,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement.

“Rather than pursuing nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology, the DPRK should be promoting the well-being of the country’s people,” Ban added, emphasizing that the test endangered peace and security in the region and was a “reminder of the urgent need to strengthen the global nuclear test ban regime.”

Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, also urged the 15-member group to remain united and take action to “urgently break this accelerating spiral of escalation.”



A big screen in front of Pyongyang Station shows the state-run Korean Central Television station reporting on North Korea's fifth nuclear test on Sept. 9, 2016. (Kyodo) |
Copyright: picture-alliance/Kyodo

Pyongyang announced the nuclear test on state television

Early Friday, North Korea said its scientists
carried out a test “for the judgment of the power of a nuclear warhead,” according to its official news agency, KCNA.

The test triggered a magnitude 5.3 earthquake, suggesting that the blast – with an energy of about 10 kilotons – could have been the largest ever conducted by the country.

Pyongyang state television announced the “nuclear warhead explosion” in a live broadcast, saying it could now mount nuclear warheads on ballistic rockets.

US warns of measures to control threat

Friday’s test was condemned by several countries including the US, where Secretary of State John Kerry warned Washington was ready to work with allies to stave off threats.

“We are prepared to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure our alliances continue to defend against this growing threat to international peace and security” he said in a statement.

Kerry also said the US was open to “credible and authentic” talks to denuclearize the Korean peninsula. However, he said Pyongyang had proved it was not a credible partner for negotiations.

Earlier Friday, US President Barack Obama spoke to South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who agreed to work with the UN body to enforce “additional significant steps, including new sanctions.”

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter also called for intensifying pressure on North Korea. “It’s China’s responsibility … China has and shares an important responsibility for this development and has an important responsibility to reverse it,” he told a news conference on a visit to Norway.

For its part, China has said it was opposed to the nuclear tests but said nothing about imposing sanctions on its neighbor.

Existing sanctions

In March, the UN Security Council
imposed its toughest sanctions yet on Pyongyang, after North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test. These included restrictions on selling small arms and light weapons, a ban on North Korean officials from seeking nuclear and ballistic missile training abroad, monitoring cargo going in and out of the country and bans on exports of gold, titanium and rare earth metals.

Financial prohibitions included a freeze on assets and travel bans on people associated with the country’s ruling Workers’ Party of Korea.

mg/cmk (AP, Reuters)

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