US urges North Korea to avoid sparking tensions

July 8, 2016 1:00 pm

This undated picture released
from ’s official Korean Central Agency (KCNA) on July 3,
2016 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) inspecting a newly built
secondary school in Pyongyang. (AFP)

The
has warned North to avoid actions and statements
that could increase tensions in the region, following Pyongyang’s threat
of taking “toughest countermeasures” against Washington over imposing
sanctions on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“We
once again call on North Korea to refrain from actions and rhetoric
that only further raise tensions in the region, and I can’t see how this
rhetoric does anything but that,” State Department spokesman John
Kirby said in a news briefing on Thursday.
Kirby
made the comments a day after the US State Department sanctioned the
North Korean leader for the first time over claims that he resorts to
“notorious abuses of human rights” and inflicts “intolerable cruelty and
hardship on millions of its own people, including extrajudicial
killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detention,
forced labor, and torture.”
In reaction to the move, the North Korean Foreign Ministry referred to US sanctions as “an open declaration of a war.”
The
ministry added that the move by Washington constituted “the worst
hostile act” against Pyongyang, vowing that North Korea would take the
“toughest countermeasures” against the US.
Mark
Toner, the State Department Deputy spokesman, also called on North
Korea “to refrain from actions and rhetoric that further destabilize the
region and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its
commitments and international obligations.”
Meanwhile, South Korean authorities welcomed the US decision to impose sanctions against Kim.
“The
government [of South Korea] appreciates and welcomes the US decision to
impose sanctions against those involved in human rights violations in
North Korea. This move demonstrates our commitment to strengthen the
sanctions regime against the DPRK (North Korea) in various directions,”
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
North
Korea recently came under the most crippling sanctions by the United
Nations and the West over reports of nuclear and ballistic missile
tests.
The country describes its nuclear capabilities as a deterrent against hostile US measures, including the stationing of thousands of US soldiers in South Korea and Japan, which Pyongyang argues is part of a plot to topple the government.
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