Articles by "North Korea"

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) waves to the press as he walks with US President Donald Trump at the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, April 7, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
US President Donald Trump says China has failed to persuade North Korea to rein in its nuclear program, ratcheting up the rhetoric after an American student detained by Pyongyang died days after his release.
Trump has been seeking greater cooperation from China to put pressure on its ally North Korea.
Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping had a high-profile summit in Florida in April, where Trump said he hoped Xi would help resolve the North Korean standoff.
"While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!" Trump wrote in a tweet.
It was unclear whether Trump's remark represented a shift in US policy toward China or he was simply expressing frustration with North Korea.
"I think the president is signaling some frustration," former US ambassador to South Korea Christopher Hill told MSNBC. "He’s signaling to others that he understands this isn’t working, and he’s trying to defend himself, or justify himself, by saying that at least they tried as opposed to others who didn’t even try."
A US official said Tuesday that US spy satellites had picked up movements at North Korea's nuclear test site near a tunnel entrance.
It was not known if the movements were preparations for a new nuclear test - perhaps to coincide with high-level talks between US and Chinese officials in Washington on Wednesday.
This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis will meet with China's State Councilor Yang Jiechi, and General Fang Fenghui, chief of joint staff of the People’s Liberation Army, for diplomatic and security dialogue.
Officials and experts have warned for months that Pyongyang could carry out a sixth nuclear test at any time.
North Korea says it will not give up on its nuclear deterrence unless Washington ends its hostile policy toward Pyongyang and dissolves the US-led UN command in South Korea.
On Tuesday, the US State Department urged North Korea to release “as soon as possible” three Americans who are still detained by Pyongyang, following the death of Otto Warmbier.
Otto Frederick Warmbier, a University of Virginia student, attends a news conference in Pyongyang, North Korea, on February 29, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)
"We hold North Korea accountable for Otto Warmbier's unjust imprisonment," department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said at a news briefing.
Warmbier was released on June 13 in a state of coma after Joseph Yun, the State Department’s special envoy on North Korea, paid a visit to Pyongyang and demanded his release.
Trump called Warmbier’s death a "total disgrace," adding that the college student might have been alive if he had been brought home sooner.

This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on June 20, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) visiting a newly-built dental sanitary goods factory at an undisclosed location in North Korea. (AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS)
The United States has called on North Korea to release “as soon as possible,” three Americans who are still detained by Pyongyang, following the death of the college student, Otto Warmbier.
"We hold North Korea accountable for Otto Warmbier's unjust imprisonment," US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said at a news briefing on Tuesday. "We want to see three other Americans who were unjustly detained brought home as soon as possible.”
Two of the detainees were teachers at a Pyongyang university funded by overseas Christian groups, and the third was a Korean-American pastor accused of espionage for the South.
Otto Frederick Warmbier, a University of Virginia student, attends a news conference in Pyongyang, North Korea, on February 29, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)
Warmbier was released on June 13 in a state of coma after Joseph Yun, the State Department’s special envoy on North Korea, paid a visit to Pyongyang and demanded his release.
North Korean media, however, said the 22-year-old student’s release had been based on a court decision and “on humanitarian grounds.”
While suffering from severe brain damage, Warmbier, died at a Cincinnati Medical Center on Monday. The American college student had spent 17 months in detention, acknowledging that he had tried to steal a banner containing a political slogan from the hotel where he had been staying.
'A disgrace for US'
US President Donald Trump has, meanwhile, called Warmbier’s death a "total disgrace," adding that the college student might have been alive if he had been brought home sooner.
“It’s a disgrace what happened to Otto. It’s a total disgrace what happened to Otto,” Trump said during an event in the Oval Office. “It should never, ever be allowed to happen, and, frankly, if he were brought home sooner, I think the result would have been a lot different... He should have been brought home that same day. The result would have been a lot different.”
Trump also issued a statement offering his “deepest condolences” to the Warmbier family and further denounced “the brutality of the North Korean regime.”
Warmbier’s death unfortunate: China
China, North Korea’s main ally, expressed sorrow over the death of the US student and called on Washington and Pyongyang to resolve tensions through dialogue.
“I think this is an unfortunate thing,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular news briefing. “We hope that North Korea and the US can handle it appropriately.”
Geng Shuang, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman
Trump also thanked China for trying to resolve tensions with North Korea but declared that Beijing's "efforts" had failed.
"While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!" the US president said.
North Korea accuses the US of plotting with regional allies to topple its government.
Over the past weeks, Washington and Pyongyang have traded a barrage of military threats. The US says it is concerned by North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests.
Pyongyang has defied sanctions and international pressure, saying it will continue to strengthen its military capability to protect itself from the threat posed by the presence of US forces in the region.


This file photo taken on February 29, 2016 and released by North Korea shows Otto Warmbier.

An American college student, who had been detained in North Korea for 17 months, has died several days after he was released by Pyongyang.
“Unfortunately, the awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today,” the family said in a statement after Otto Warmbier's death was announced.
"Although we would never hear his voice again, within a day the countenance of his face changed -- he was at peace. He was home and we believe he could sense that,” the statement added.
Warmbier died at a Cincinnati Medical Center on Monday.
Warmbier was released last Thursday after Joseph Yun, the State Department’s special envoy on North Korea, paid a visit to Pyongyang and demanded his release.

Friends and supporters of Otto Warmbier, the 22-year-old college student who was released from a North Korean prison on Tuesday, gather to show their support for the Warmbier family, June 15, 2017, Wyoming, Ohio. (Photo by AFP)


Pyongyang said the 22-year-old’s release had been based on a court decision and “on humanitarian grounds.” No further details were provided.
Trump slams 'brutality of North Korean regime' 
US President Donald Trump issued a statement offering condolences to the Warmbier family. He further denounced “the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim.”
“Otto's fate deepens my administration's determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency,” Trump said.
US Senator John McCain said, “Let us state the facts plainly: Otto Warmbier, an American citizen, was murdered by the Kim Jong Un regime.”
Warmbier was taken into custody in January 2016 and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in March last year, for trying to steal a banner containing a political slogan from the hotel where he had been staying.

This file photo shows Otto Warmbier in North Korea 

China, North Korea's main ally, also lamented Warmbier's death.
“It really is a tragedy. I hope that North Korea and the United States can properly handle the issue,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told the press.
In an interview with CBS News, South Korean President Moon Jae-in offered condolences to the family, saying, “We cannot know for sure that North Korea killed” Otto Warmbier, “I believe it is quite clear that they have a heavy responsibility in the process that led to Mr. Warmbier's death.”
Moon further urged Pyongyang to swiftly return the foreign detainees including six South Koreans.
Several Americans have been held in North Korea in recent years. North Korea accuses the US of plotting with regional allies to topple its government.

The file photo shows an area outside the United Nations General Assembly Building, New York.
North Korea says the US authorities have "literally mugged" its diplomatic delegation in New York, as tensions between Washington and Pyongyang soar.
"Diplomats of a sovereign state are being robbed of a diplomatic package in the middle of New York where the headquarters of the United Nations is located and that serves as the venue for international meetings including the United Nations General Assembly," the state-run KCNA news agency quoted a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying on Sunday.
He added that the "illegal and heinous act of provocation" occurred at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Friday as the delegation was returning from a UN conference on the rights of the disabled, officially known as the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“This clearly shows that the US is a felonious and lawless gangster state,” he said, adding that the international community should seriously question the prestige of New York as a place where international meetings are held.
According to the KCNA report on the incident, over 20 officials, who claimed to be with the US Department of Homeland Security and police, "made a violent assault like gangsters to take away the diplomatic package from the diplomats." It added that the delegation was in possession of valid diplomatic courrier certificate.
The White House and the US State Department had issued no immediate comment on the North's statement.
Pyongyang warned that if the White House failed to give due response to the North's "reasonable and fair demand" on the incident, it would be "totally responsible" for all the consequences.
North Korea's statement came amid the latest tensions between the two archenemies, which occurred following Pyongyang's release of American student Otto Warmbier, whose parents said he was in a coma after being held by the Far East Asian country for the past 17 months.
Over the past weeks, Washington and Pyongyang have also traded a barrage of military threats. Washington says it is concerned by North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests. Pyongyang, defying successive UN sanctions and international pressure, says it will continue to strengthen its military capability to protect itself from the threat posed by the presence of US forces in the region.
North Korea says it will not give up on its nuclear deterrence unless Washington ends its hostile policy toward Pyongyang and dissolves the US-led UN command in South Korea.

North Korea has released Otto Warmbier, an American college student who was serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor for alleged anti-state acts, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday.
The US announcement that came as former NBA player Dennis Rodman was paying a return visit to Pyongyang.
"At the direction of the President, the Department of State has secured the release of Otto Warmbier from North Korea," Tillerson said in a statement. "Mr. Warmbier is en route to the US where he will be reunited with his family."
The Washington Post, citing Warmbier's parents, reported that he had been medically evacuated from North Korea in a coma, and was due to arrive home in Cincinnati on Tuesday evening. The report said he had been a coma for more than a year, since shortly after his last public appearance at his trial in Pyongyang in March 2016.
The Associated Press could not immediately confirm that information. Warmbier's family did not respond to calls seeking comment.
The statement by Tillerson, which he later read Tuesday morning at a congressional hearing, offered no other details and made no mention of Rodman's visit. Tillerson said the department would have no further comment on Warmbier and his condition, citing privacy concerns.
But he noted that the State Department is continuing "to have discussions" with North Korea about the release of other three American citizens who are jailed there.
A North Korean foreign ministry official said Warmbier was released and left the country Tuesday morning.
The photo taken on February 29, 2016 and released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on March 1, 2016 shows American student Otto Frederick Warmbier (R), who was arrested for committing hostile acts against North Korea, speaking at a press conference in Pyongyang. (Photo by AFP)
The official, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because no formal statement had been released, said he could not provide further details.
It was not immediately clear if Rodman's visit to North Korea was purely coincidental with Warmbier's release. Rodman has traveled to the isolated nation four times previously and is one of few people to have met both North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump. Speaking to reporters in Beijing before his arrival in Pyongyang on Tuesday, he said that the issue of several Americans detained by North Korea is "not my purpose right now."
In March 2016, North Korea's highest court sentenced Warmbier to 15 years in prison with hard labor for subversion as he tearfully confessed that he had tried to steal a propaganda banner.
Warmbier, 22, a University of Virginia undergraduate, was convicted and sentenced in a one-hour trial in North Korea's Supreme Court.
The US government condemned the sentence and accused North Korea of using such American detainees as political pawns.

A South Korean protester attends a rally against the deployment of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system near the US embassy in Seoul on April 28, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
North Korea has slammed the clandestine delivery of four extra launchers of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system to South Korea in May.
On Saturday, the spokesman for the Pan-Korean Emergency Measure Committee for Opposing Nuclear War Drills against DPRK [the Democratic People's Republic of Korea] said that the move aimed to “pacify the angry South Korean public remaining strongly averse to the deployment of THAAD, evade rebukes of neighboring countries, and curry favor with the US administration to prolong their remaining days."
"It is another heavy crime and unpardonable pro-US act of treachery," the spokesman added.
On Wednesday, the office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced that Seoul had suspended any further deployment of the controversial US missile system until an environmental impact assessment is completed.
The office also said that the environmental impact assessment could take a year to complete.
The statement, however, noted that Seoul saw “no need to withdraw” the two launchers that have already been deployed.
A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is being launched from a battery located on Wake Island in the Pacific Ocean on November 1, 2015. (Photo via AFP)
South Korea decided to host the missile system last year under ousted president Park Geun-hye to deter any potential threats from North Korea. The first pieces of the missile system started arriving at the Osan Air Base in South Korea in March with the approval of Seoul’s then-caretaker administration.
The new president ordered a “proper” investigation into the potential environmental impact of the missile system on Monday.
A battery of the THAAD is capable of firing up to 48 interceptor missiles and consists of six truck-mounted launchers, fire control and communication equipment as well as a powerful X-band radar.
Moon earlier ordered an investigation into an unauthorized deployment of four launchers that have recently arrived in the South and are being stored at a US army base in the country. According to Moon’s office, top military officials had deliberately withheld information from the president. Moon suspended Deputy Minister for Defense Policy Wee Seung Ho on Monday over the matter. 
The Defense Ministry cited a confidentiality deal with the US military as the reason to withhold the information from South Korea’s new commander-in-chief, who seems not to be in agreement with Washington over the deployment. But it was not clear why the country’s highest authority could be kept in the dark by lower-ranking officials based on a deal with a foreign country.
The US opposes North Korea’s missile and military nuclear activities, which Pyongyang says act as deterrence against a potential invasion by its adversaries.
China, which has long opposed the deployment of the missile system so close to its borders, has called on Washington and Seoul to remove the system. But Beijing has also expressed concern about the North Korean’s nuclear activities and has banned imports of North Korean coal over the issue.
China has, however, repeatedly promoted dialog to resolve the issue and urged all sides to exercise restraint.


Replicas of a North Korean Scud-B missile (C) and South Korean Hawk surface-to-air missiles are displayed at the Korean War Memorial in Seoul on May 29, 2017. (Photos by AFP)

North Korea has test-fired several projectiles which are thought to be surface-to-ship missile, says Seoul.
“North Korea fired multiple unidentified projectiles, assumed to be surface-to-ship missiles, this morning from the vicinity of Wonsan, Gangwon province,” said a statement released by the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) early on Thursday.  
Noting that the missiles flew for some 200 kilometers, the JCS stressed that it is “maintaining full preparedness” and has “beefed up surveillance and vigilance against the possibility of additional provocations.”
The statement added that South Korean President Moon Jae-in has also been informed over the North’s latest missile test.
Pyongyang conducted its previous missile launch on May 29 by firing a short-range ballistic missile believed to be a Scud-class missile that landed in the Sea of Japan after flying around 450 kilometers.
'North's ICBMs can range the US'
Meanwhile, the director of the US Missile Defense Agency warned that Pyongyang’s continued ballistic missile tests have become cause for concern for Washington and its allies.
“It is incumbent on us to assume that North Korea today can range the United States with an ICBM carrying a nuclear warhead,” said Vice-Admiral James Syring while addressing Congress.

This undated picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 28, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C-in white shirt) watching the test of a new anti-aircraft guided weapon system. 
On June 3, the United Nations Security Council imposed a fresh array of sanctions on North Korea in response to a number of missile tests carried out by Pyongyang this year.
Unsettled by North Korean missile and nuclear programs, the US has adopted a war-like posture, sending a strike group and conducting joint military drills with North Korea’s regional adversaries Japan and South Korea.
American officials have indicated that military intervention in North Korea is an option on the table.

This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 28, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) inspecting the test of a new anti-aircraft guided weapon system at an undisclosed location. (via AFP)
North Korea says it "fully rejects" the fresh wave of sanctions imposed on some of its companies and individuals by the United Nations Security Council, vowing to continue with its nuclear and missile programs without a delay.
"Whatever sanctions and pressure may follow, we will not flinch from the road to build up nuclear forces which was chosen to defend the sovereignty of the country and the rights to national existence and will move forward towards the final victory," said a spokesman for the country’s Foreign Ministry in a statement, which was carried by its official KCNA news agency on Sunday.
The North's reaction comes two days after the UN Security Council, in response to a number of missile tests carried out by Pyongyang this year, applied a fresh array of sanctions on the Asian country, which included imposition of asset freeze and a global travel ban on 14 officials, including the head of North's overseas espionage operations, and four entities purportedly linked to Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.
The imposition of sanctions "is a crafty hostile act with the purpose of putting a curb on the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea]'s buildup of nuclear forces, disarming it and causing economic suffocation to it," the statement further said.
Pyongyang has so far rejected all the UNSC resolutions against its nuclear and missile programs since 2006, when it carried out its first nuclear test, saying such provocative measures directly infringe its sovereign right to self-defense.
The UNSC has already slapped the North with six rounds of sanctions, but the White House and its allies are pushing for even tougher measures in an attempt to halt the increasing wave of missile tests by Pyongyang.
This undated photo released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on May 30, 2017 shows a test-fire of a ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea. (Photo by AFP)
In mid-May, the council had warned Pyongyang not to conduct any further missile tests, but all to no avail. In an act of defiance, the nuclear-armed North conducted several other missile tests with various ranges, including a ballistic one, in the second half of the last month.
The country has been making efforts to upgrade its weapon systems amid threats of military action against it by Washington. It has recently developed a long-range missile capable of striking the United States’ mainland and has in recent weeks tested its intermediate-range ballistic missile.
"It is a fatal miscalculation if the countries ... would even think that they can delay or hold in check the eye-opening development of the (North's) nuclear forces even for a moment," the statement further said.
Russia's Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin
Meanwhile, Russia's Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin called North Korea's nuclear ambitions a "direct threat" against his respective country.
"It is not only (a) ballistic missile defense system — it has real function. That is why it is alarming. And it is direct threat to Russia. We are convinced that it will increase the tensions of the region. That is our principle position," said Fomin.
The Russian official, who was speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue, an international security conference in Singapore attended by defense ministers and experts from 39 countries, including US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, added that sanctions should be aimed at invoking Pyongyang to resolve the conflict and dispute in a peaceful way.
Both China and Russia, being neighbors of the North, are generally advocating a peaceful diplomatic solution to the decade-long conflict thorough restarting talks with Pyongyang so as to prevent the tensions from exacerbating in the Korean Peninsula.
Washington and its allies, on the other hand, are seeking even tougher sanctions on the North so as to curb its nuclear and missile development.
The North, however, has repeatedly said that it is developing arms as deterrence against the US threat, and that it would not abandon its missile and nuclear programs unless Washington ended its hostility toward Pyongyang.
Unsettled by North Korean missile and nuclear programs, the US has adopted a war-like posture, sending a strike group and conducting joint military drills with North Korea’s regional adversaries Japan and South Korea.
American officials have indicated that military intervention in North Korea is an option on the table.

This undated photo released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 30, 2017 shows a test-fire of a ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea. (Photos by AFP)
A North Korean military spokesman says that US’s missile interceptor system cannot stop our “shower of nuclear strike.”
On Tuesday, the US military conducted its first-ever intercept test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The Pentagon hailed the test as an “incredible accomplishment” which marked a “critical milestone” for the anti-missile program.
“This test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat,” said US Missile Defense Agency chief Vice Admiral James D. Syring.
On Saturday, a spokesman for the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army stressed that the test was a “risky move.” He added that it was also “serious military provocation that brings to light the US imperialists’ wild ambition for igniting a nuclear war.”
“They are now bluffing, bragging about the ‘success’ in the test and the efficiency of the missile interception system. But the DPRK considers it just as a foolish act of those driven to despair,” he said.
“The last-ditch gambling of the Trump administration for a nuclear war will only bring earlier the day when the US mainland will turn into ashes,” he added.
Earlier, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) imposed a fresh array of sanctions on North Korea in response to a number of missile tests carried out by Pyongyang this year.
In mid-May, the United Nations Security Council called on Pyongyang not to conduct any further missile tests.
The North, under an array of sanctions for its missile and nuclear programs, says it is developing arms as deterrence against the US threat. North Korea has also said it would not abandon its missile and nuclear programs unless the US ended its hostility toward Pyongyang.
A ground based interceptor missile take off at Vandenberg Air Force base, California on May 30, 3017.
Unsettled by North Korean missile and nuclear programs, the United States adopted a war-like posture, sending a strike group and conducting joint military drills with North Korea’s regional adversaries Japan and South Korea.
Meanwhile, the US military has begun deploying an advanced missile system in South Korea known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), raising the ire of North Korea, China, and Russia.

Russian Deputy Ambassador to the UN Vladimir Safronkov
Russia has called on the United States to explain the reasons why Washington imposed sanctions on three Russian companies and one individual for their alleged links to North Korea.
"We would like to hear the US side’s explanation regarding the June 1 expansion of the US sanctions on North Korea, that affected three Russian companies and one citizen of our country," said Russian Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Vladimir Safronkov at a session of the UN Security Council held on Friday.
The remarks were made amid a session in which the council's member states voted unanimously to impose a global travel ban and asset freeze on 14 officials, including the head of the North's overseas espionage operations, and four entities purportedly linked to Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.
Russia is highly critical of Washington's own sanctions imposed on Russian companies of Ardis-Bearings Llc, Independent Petroleum Company and its subsidiary PrimorNefteProduct, and an individual, Ardis-Bearings Llc chief Igor Michurin, for their alleged support of Pyongyang's missile and nuclear programs.
"Instead of trying to work through the bilateral backlog in our work, Washington is doing exactly the opposite and undertaking unfriendly steps, which make it more difficult to normalize our dialogue and make it more difficult to cooperate in international affairs," Safronkov told the council.
The Russian firms and individual were included in Washington's expanded blacklist on Thursday and would be subject to a freeze of their assets in the United States and a travel ban against the individual. Moreover, American companies and individuals will be banned from having any dealings with them.
"This step is something that is very puzzling and deeply disappointing. We have repeatedly stated that the mechanism of unilateral restrictions is illegal from the point of view of the international law," Safronkov said.
The UN Security Council has already slapped the North with six rounds of sanctions, but the White House and its allies are pushing for even tougher measures in an attempt to halt the increasing wave of missile tests by Pyongyang.
This undated photo released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on May 30, 2017 shows a test-fire of a ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea. (Photo by AFP)
The North's latest missile launch came less than a week after it test-fired a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missile, which landed in the sea between North Korea and Japan on May 14. It has also been making efforts to upgrade its weapons systems, and has recently developed a long-range missile capable of striking the US mainland.
The North says it is developing arms as deterrence against the US threat, and that it would not abandon its missile and nuclear programs unless Washington ended its hostility toward Pyongyang.
American officials have indicated that military intervention in North Korea is an option on the table. On Saturday, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis claimed that the threat from Pyongyang was "clear and present."

The United Nations Security Council votes to sanction North Korea over its missile tests on June 2, 2017. (Photo by AP)
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has imposed a fresh array of sanctions on North Korea in response to a number of missile tests carried out by Pyongyang this year.
The council's member states voted unanimously on Friday to impose a global travel ban and asset freeze on 14 officials, including the head of North's overseas espionage operations, and four entities purportedly linked to Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.
The voting session came after weeks of negotiations between the US and China on the scope of the new bans. China believes that instead of seeking tougher sanctions on the North, particularly pursued by Washington, the world should find a peaceful diplomatic solution thorough restarting talks with Pyongyang so as to prevent the tensions from exacerbating in the Korean Peninsula.
The UNSC has already slapped the North with six rounds of sanctions, but the White House and its allies are pushing for even tougher measures in an attempt to halt the increasing wave of missile tests by Pyongyang.
 This undated photo released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on May 30, 2017 shows a test-fire of a ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea. (Photo by AFP)
The North's latest missile launch came less than a week after it test-fired a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missile, which landed in the sea between North Korea and Japan on May 14. It has also been making efforts to upgrade its weapon systems, and has recently developed a long-range missile capable of striking the US mainland.
The North says it is developing arms as deterrence against the US threat, and that it would not abandon its missile and nuclear programs unless Washington ended its hostility toward Pyongyang.
Unsettled by North Korean missile and nuclear programs, the US has adopted a war-like posture, sending a strike group and conducting joint military drills with North Korea’s regional adversaries Japan and South Korea.
American officials have indicated that military intervention in North Korea is an option on the table.

The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group is pictured in the western Pacific region on June 1, 2017. (By AFP)
Japan’s naval and air forces have launched a three-day joint military drill with US aircraft carriers in the Sea of Japan amid tensions with North Korea over its missile and nuclear programs.
On Thursday, Japanese destroyers Hyuga and Ashigara joined the US aircraft carriers, the USS Carl Vinson and USS Ronald Reagan, in the sea, which separates Japan from the Korean Peninsula, Japan’s military said.
At the same time, Japan’s Air Self Defense Force F-15s are taking part in simulated combat with US Navy F-18 fighters, the military added.
“It’s the first time we have exercised with two carriers,” said a Japanese military spokesman. “It’s a major exercise for us.”
However, the US Seventh Fleet said on its Facebook page that the drill is “routine training to improve interoperability and readiness in the Indo-Asia Pacific.”
The US has sent its strike group to the region in what is intended to be a show of force amid North Korea’s advancing missile and military nuclear programs.
The US navy released this photo on June 1, 2017 showing the Carl Vinson strike group off the Korean Peninsula. (Via AFP)
The US military has also deployed the controversial THAAD missile system to a site in South Korea to counter what it calls threats from the North.
North Korea which considers the deployments as an act of provocation, has threatened the US with a nuclear attack in case of a direct military action.
US President Donald Trump has taken a very harsh stance toward North Korea since he took office four months ago. His administration has declared an end to Washington’s “strategic patience” with the North.
Japan has also been pushing to increase pressure on Pyongyang through working with other countries.
Pyongyang, however, insists that its missile and nuclear activities act as deterrence against a potential invasion by its adversaries.
Moon’s aide in Washington
In another development, South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s top security aide left the country for Washington on Thursday.
The president’s national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, who would meet Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said that his trip has nothing to do with the recent controversy that erupted over the deployment of THAAD missile system into his country.
“We’ve sufficiently explained that this has nothing to do with our alliance,” Chung said.
South Korea’s new president has ordered an investigation after he found out that Defense Ministry failed to inform him that four more missile launchers for the THAAD system had been brought into the country.
The probe later found that South Korea’s military authorities had deliberately withheld the information from Moon.
Moon said it was “very shocking” that his office had not been told of the latest deployment while he is preparing for a summit with Trump in Washington this month.
The president, who previously said he was concerned by the deployment, has reassured that the probe was not meant to “change the existing decision or sending a message to the United States.” 

The photo released by the Xinhua news agency shows South Korean rescue boats working in waters northeast of the Gagedo Island in North Jeolla Province, South Korea, January 27, 2016.
Six North Koreans who were rescued on Saturday drifting at sea off the east coast were sent back to the North on Wednesday after Pyongyang did not respond to repeated attempts to communicate, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said.
The six had been questioned by a team of officials about their wish to be repatriated, the ministry which handles ties with the North said earlier this week.
Such questioning by South Korean authorities is routine when North Koreans are rescued at sea.
The six North Koreans were on two fishing vessels, but one was damaged beyond repair and they were returned on the remaining vessel, a Unification Ministry official said by telephone, asking not to be named.
The South Korean government tried to reach the North through the liaison office in the Panmunjom truce village on the border, but the North did not respond, the official said.
The South also attempted communication through the UN Armistice Commission and then broadcast the intention to repatriate the six through loudspeakers at the border, Unification Ministry spokesman Lee Duk-haeng told a briefing.
The rescue comes as South Korea’s new liberal government has pledged a more moderate approach to North Korea including engagement and reopening a communication channel that has been severed amid tension over Pyongyang’s arms programs.
A guide vessel from the North received the six North Koreans when South Korea led their vessel to the maritime border off the Korean peninsula's east coast earlier on Wednesday, the ministry officials said.
South Korea imposed unilateral sanctions against the North after its fourth nuclear test and a long-range rocket launch last year, in addition to sanctions applied in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean navy ship that Seoul blamed on the North.
North Korea denied involvement in the sinking.
The sanctions cut off almost all exchange between the rival states that had been set up since 2000, when South Korea’s “sunshine policy” brought a period of cautious rapprochement.

North Korea has launched what is thought to be a short-range ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan.
According to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, the projectile was launched in the eastern direction from Wonsan, from the Gangwon province, early on Monday.
“It is estimated to be a Scud type [missile],” said a statement, noting that the missile was in the air for about 450 kilometers.
“The president was immediately notified of the situation, and the president ordered the national security council meeting at 7:30 am,” the South Korean statement added.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that Pyongyang’s missile test posed risk to air traffic in the region as well as ships crossing the Sea of Japan.
“This ballistic missile launch by North Korea is highly problematic from the perspective of the safety of shipping and air traffic and is a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions," he added.
While condemning the launch, he noted that the missile seemed to have fallen in the Sea of Japan within the Japanese exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Japan vows action against the North
On Monday, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe slammed Pyongyang’s missile test, while promising an international reaction towards the North’s continued provocations.
"As we agreed at the recent G7, the issue of North Korea is a top priority for the international community," said Abe during a televised interview.
"Working with the United States, we will take specific action to deter North Korea," he said, adding that, Japan will do whatever is necessary to protect its people.
North Korea releases footage of air defense test
On Sunday, North Korean television broadcasted footage of a reported test of an anti-aircraft defense system.
Following the test, orders were issued to commence the mass construction of the system.   
“This weapon system, whose operation capability has been thoroughly verified, should be mass-produced to deploy all over the country… so as to completely spoil the enemy’s wild dream to command the air, boasting of air supremacy and weapon almighty,” said the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Last week, KCNA announced that the country’s leader Kim Jong-un had overseen the test-launch of a Pukguksong (Polaris)-2 ground-to-ground missile and “approved the deployment of this weapon system for action.”
This undated picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 28, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) inspecting the test of a new anti-aircraft guided weapon system.
The latest test came less than two weeks after the North test-fired a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missile, which landed in the sea between North Korea and Japan on May 14.
The North, under an array of sanctions for its missile and nuclear programs, says it is developing arms as deterrence against the US threat. North Korea has also said that it would not abandon its missile and nuclear programs unless the US ended its hostility toward Pyongyang.
Unsettled by North Korean missile and nuclear programs, the United States has adopted a war-like posture, sending a strike group and conducting joint military drills with North Korea’s regional adversaries Japan and South Korea.


A photo taken on May 21, 2017 shows a Korean war-era fighter jet installed as a monument near the town of Hwacheon in North Korea. (Via AFP)

North Korea says it has tested a new anti-aircraft weapon system amid continuing tensions over its military programs.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un personally “watched the test of a new-type anti-aircraft guided weapon system,” the official KCNA reported on Sunday.
The new anti-aircraft weapon will help in “detecting and striking different targets flying from any direction… [and] spoil enemy’s wild dream to control the air,” it said.
The report said the Academy of National Defense Science had organized the test. It said that the mass production of the new anti-aircraft weapon was underway.
North Korea conducted a ballistic missile test a week ago. The country has been making efforts to upgrade its weapon systems amid threats of military action against it by Washington. It has recently developed a long-range missile capable of striking the United States’ mainland and has in recent weeks tested its intermediate-range ballistic missile.

North Korea leader Kim Jong-un (seated) (photo by AFP)

Pyongyang has been under mounting international pressure over its missile and military nuclear programs. North Korea says it will continue those programs until the United States ends its hostility toward the country.
The US, on the other hand, continues to adopt a war-like posture against North Korea. Washington regularly conducts joint military drills with North Korea’s regional adversaries Japan and South Korea. The US also recently deployed a strike force to the region.
American officials have indicated that military intervention in North Korea is an option on the table.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi exchange documents during a joint press conference following their meeting in Moscow on May 26, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Russia and China have once again voiced opposition to the deployment of a US missile system to South Korea, saying the North Korean nuclear program should not be used as a pretext for military build-up on the troubled peninsula.
During a meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on Friday, the two sides agreed that the installation earlier this year of the so-called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in South Korea fuels tensions in the region.
“We noted that attempts to use Pyongyang’s actions as a pretext to boost military presence in the region, including the deployment of another part of the US' global anti-missile defense, are counterproductive,” Lavrov said.
“We are for adopting measures that, on the one hand, would hamper the further development of the North Korean nuclear missile programs, but at the same time would not lead to an increase in tensions in the region, would not block the possibility of a political and diplomatic settlement of the Korean Peninsula’s nuclear problem,” he added.
The Chinese foreign minister, for his part, noted that Beijing opposed the THAAD deployment in South Korea.
“We insist that the peninsula should be denuclearized while peace and stability should be ensured, as we stand against any statements that could raise tensions, and oppose the deployment of the THAAD system to South Korea under the pretext of the North Korean nuclear issue,” Wang said.
During the bilateral meeting, the Russian top diplomat stressed that Moscow and Beijing expected all parties to abide by United Nations Security Council resolutions concerning the Korean Peninsula.
This handout photo taken on November 1, 2015 shows testing a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor being launched from Wake Island in the Pacific Ocean. (By AFP)
“All resolutions of the UN Security Council should be implemented, they stipulate that Pyongyang must stop missile and nuclear tests and envisage certain enforcement measures to impel North Korea to meet these demands,” Lavrov said.
Meanwhile, the Chinese foreign minister also stressed the need for dialog on the North Korean nuclear issue, adding that use of military force would cause only negative consequences.
“Military actions can only escalate the crisis and bring serious consequences. No matter it was in the past, or in the future, it should not be an option for any country. China and Russia have reached consensus on this issue,” Wang said.
“We urge the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to stop acting against the UN Security Council resolutions and create necessary conditions for the resumption of dialogue and negotiations,” he noted.
North Korea regularly carries out missile tests and has also conducted five nuclear tests.
Pyongyang, under an array of sanctions for its missile and nuclear programs, says it is developing arms as deterrence against US hostility. North Korea has vowed that it would not abandon its missile and nuclear programs unless Washington ended its enmity toward Pyongyang.
Unsettled by North Korean missile and military nuclear programs, the United States has adopted a war-like posture against Pyongyang in recent weeks, sending a strike group to the Korean Peninsula and conducting joint military drills with North Korea’s regional adversaries Japan and South Korea.
The new US administration has warned that military intervention in North Korea is an option being considered.

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