US wants tougher UN sanctions after North Korea missile test

This photo distributed by the North Korean government shows what it says about a test firing of a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), at an undisclosed location in North Korea on March 24, 2022. Independent journalists were denied access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government.  The content of this image is as supplied and cannot be independently verified.  Korean watermark on image as provided by source:

This photo distributed by the North Korean government shows what it says about a test firing of a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), at an undisclosed location in North Korea on March 24, 2022. Independent journalists were denied access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as supplied and cannot be independently verified. The Korean watermark on the image as provided by the source reads: “KCNA”, which is short for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

PA

The United States called on Friday for tougher UN sanctions after North Korea said it had tested its largest intercontinental ballistic missile to date, with Kim Jong Un pledging to expand “nuclear war deterrence of his country while preparing for a “long standing confrontation” with the United States.

North Korean state media reported the North’s first long-range test since 2017, and South Korea and Japan said they had detected it. Thursday’s launch extended a barrage of weapons demonstrations this year that analysts say are aimed at forcing the United States to accept the idea of ​​North Korea as a nuclear power and removing crippling sanctions against its broken economy.

At a meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the United States would propose a resolution “to update and strengthen” Security Council sanctions. She declined to specify what these new measures might be.

“It is clear that keeping silent, hoping that the DPRK will also show restraint, is a failed strategy,” she said. The DPRK is the acronym of the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea.

The council initially imposed sanctions after the North’s first nuclear test in 2006 and has tightened them over the years. But last fall, China and Russia, exercising their right of veto, called for the lifting of various sanctions against their neighbor.

Russian Deputy Ambassador Anna Evstigneeva said Friday that further sanctions would only harm the North Korean people, while Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun urged the council “to consider how to address the justified security concerns of the DPRK”.

He suggested that the United States had not done enough to respond to the North’s self-imposed 2018 pause on long-range missile and nuclear testing and that it needed to “show goodwill” and ” work harder to stabilize the situation” and resume the dialogue.

North Korea did not speak at the council meeting. A message seeking comments has been sent to its UN mission.

Meanwhile, the United States has imposed new sanctions on five entities and individuals in Russia and North Korea for transferring sensitive items to the North’s missile program, the State Department spokesperson said. , Ned Price.

North Korean state television dramatized the missile testing process like a Hollywood movie, showing Kim walking in slow motion past a giant missile wearing sunglasses and a black leather motorcycle jacket. After a series of quick cuts of Kim and military officials looking at their watches, Kim takes off her sunglasses and nods, and the missile is shown rolling out of the hangar.

The Hwasong-17, which was fired at a high angle to avoid neighboring territorial waters, reached a maximum altitude of 6,248 kilometers (3,880 miles) and traveled 1,090 kilometers (680 miles) during a 67-minute flight before landing in waters between North Korea and Japan, Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency said.

KCNA claimed that the launch had achieved its technical goals and proved that the ICBM could be used quickly in wartime.

The South Korean and Japanese militaries had announced similar flight details, which analysts said suggested the missile could hit targets 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles) away when fired on a normal trajectory with a warhead weighing less than a ton. This would put the entire American continent within striking distance.

At an estimated length of around 25 meters (82 ft), the Hwasong-17 is the North’s longest-range weapon and, by some estimates, the largest road-mobile ballistic missile system in the world. North Korea revealed the missile at a military parade in October 2020 and Thursday’s launch was its first full-range test.

KCNA paraphrased Kim, saying the new weapon would make the “whole world clearly aware” of the North’s enhanced nuclear forces. He pledged that his army would acquire “formidable military and technical capabilities, undisturbed by any military threat and blackmail, and stand fully ready for a long-standing confrontation with the US imperialists”.

The agency released photos of the missile leaving a trail of orange flames as it rose from a launcher truck on an airport runway near the capital, Pyongyang, and Kim smiling and cheering as he celebrated with military officials from an observation deck.

Other footage showed Kim writing a memo ordering the Hwasong-17’s test flight and approving the launch. Kim issued handwritten orders for some of the most significant weapons displays of his reign, including the final ICBM test flight in November 2017, which capped a highly provocative run of nuclear and missile tests that sparked a verbal exchange of war threats with then-President Donald Trump.

South Korea’s military responded to Thursday’s launch with live-fire drills of its own land-launched missiles, a fighter jet and a ship, underscoring heightened tensions as diplomacy remains frozen. He said he confirmed his willingness to execute precision strikes against North Korean missile launch points as well as command and support facilities.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin held separate phone conversations with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts, where they discussed measures to respond to North Korean missile activity and pledged to strengthen cooperation in defense matters, according to statements by the US Department of Defense.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said he spoke on the phone with his South Korean counterpart Chung Eui-yong. Seoul’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, criticized the North for breaking its self-imposed moratorium on ICBM testing.

“Regardless of North Korea’s intention, the North should immediately suspend any action that creates tension on the Korean peninsula and destabilizes the regional security situation and return to the table of dialogue and negotiations,” the door said. -Ministry spokesman Cha Deok-cheol at a press briefing.

Thursday’s test was North Korea’s 12th round of launches this year and the most provocative since US President Joe Biden took office.

North Korea’s resumption of the nuclear tightrope reflects a determination to cement its status as a nuclear power and to wring economic concessions from Washington and others from a position of strength, analysts say. Kim may also feel the need to trumpet his military achievements and build internal loyalty as the country faces economic difficulties.

Other recent tests included a purported hypersonic weapon, a long-range cruise missile and an intermediate-range missile that could reach Guam, a major US military hub in the Pacific. The US and South Korean military expected a full test of the Hwasong-17 after concluding that two of the recent mid-range launches included components from the new ICBM.

After his series of nuclear and ICBM tests in 2017, Kim suspended those tests ahead of his first meeting with Trump. But diplomacy went off the rails in 2019 when the Americans rejected North Korean demands for a major lifting of US-led sanctions against the North in return for a limited surrender of its nuclear capabilities.

ICBMs launched on three test flights in 2017 demonstrated that they could reach the American continent. The larger Hwasong-17 may be intended to be armed with multiple warheads to overwhelm missile defenses.

North Korea’s ruling party issued a veiled threat in January to end Kim’s moratorium on ICBMs and nuclear testing, citing US hostility.

South Korea’s military has also detected signs that North Korea may restore some of the nuclear test tunnels it blew up just before Kim’s first meeting with Trump in 2018. Some experts say the North may resume nuclear testing in the coming months.

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Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz contributed from the United Nations. Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to the report.

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