25th April, 2017
U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday said that the UN Security Council must be prepared to impose new sanctions on North Korea, amid escalating tensions over its missile and nuclear programmes.
He said that people had acted as if “blindfolded” for decades on a big problem that finally needed to be solved.
“The status quo in North Korea is also unacceptable,” Trump told a meeting of UN Security Council ambassadors at the White House, held at a time of mounting concern that North Korea may be preparing a sixth nuclear bomb test.
“The council must be prepared to impose additional and stronger sanctions on North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile programmes,” Trump said.
“This is a real threat to the world, whether we want to talk about it or not. North Korea is a big world problem and it’s a problem that we have to finally solve,” he said.
“People put blindfolds on for decades and now it’s time to solve the problem.” Trump gave no indication as to when new sanctions should be imposed on North Korea.
U.S. officials say his administration has been debating whether they should be held as the response to any new North Korean missile or nuclear test, or imposed as soon as they can be agreed.
Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier called for all sides to exercise restraint in a telephone call about North Korea with Trump, as Japan conducted exercises with a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group headed for Korean waters.
Angered by the approach of the USS Carl Vinson carrier group, a defiant North Korea, which has carried on nuclear and missile tests in defiance of successive rounds of U.N. sanctions, said on Monday the deployment was “an extremely dangerous act by those who plan a nuclear war to invade”.
“The United States should not run amok and should consider carefully any catastrophic consequence from its foolish military provocative act,” Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, said in a commentary on Monday.
Two Japanese destroyers have joined the carrier group for exercises in the western Pacific, and South Korea said on Monday it was also in talks about holding joint naval exercises.
Worry that North Korea could be preparing to conduct another nuclear test or launch more ballistic missiles has increased as it prepares to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the foundation of its Korean People’s Army on Tuesday.
It has marked similar events in the past with nuclear tests or missile launches.
Trump has vowed to prevent North Korea from being able to hit the U.S. with a nuclear missile and has said all options are on the table, including a military strike.
China is North Korea’s sole major ally but it has been angered by its nuclear and missile programmes and is frustrated by its belligerence.
China has repeatedly called for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and is worried the situation could spin out of control, leading to war and a chaotic collapse of its isolated, impoverished neighbour.
Trump, in his phone call with Xi, criticised North Korea’s “continued belligerence” and emphasised that its actions “are destabilising the Korean peninsula”, the White House said.
“The two leaders reaffirmed the urgency of the threat posed by North Korea’s missile and nuclear programmes, and committed to strengthen coordination in achieving the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” it said.
Xi told Trump China resolutely opposed any actions that ran counter to UN resolutions, China’s foreign ministry said.
China “hopes that all relevant sides exercise restraint, and avoid doing anything to worsen the tense situation”, the Chinese ministry said in a statement, paraphrasing Xi.
The call between the presidents was the latest manifestation of their close communication, which was good for their countries and the world, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said.