The Latest: Japan says UN must keep pressure on NKorea
Nov. 29, 2017
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on North Korea's missile launch (all times local):
Japan's U.N. Ambassador Koro Bessho says the international community must "keep the pressure up so that North Koreans will understand that they need to change their course."
Bessho spoke to reporters Wednesday ahead of an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council called by the United States, Japan and South Korea following North Korea's launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
France's U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre said full implementation and tightening of sanctions are "key priorities for France but also for others."
Tightening sanctions would require a new Security Council resolution.
Sweden's deputy U.N. ambassador Carl Skau reiterated his country's strong condemnation of the launch and said "it's important that the council speaks with one voice on this issue."
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the United States may target additional financial institutions with sanctions following North Korea's latest intercontinental missile launch.
Tillerson is speaking in Washington during a meeting with the visiting crown prince of Bahrain. He says the U.S. has a "long list of additional potential sanctions."
Tillerson isn't specifying what financial institutions could be hit with sanctions. But he says the United States will be announcing the sanctions once they're "ready to roll out." His comments come after President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that more sanctions were coming.
Tillerson says he's not giving up on the diplomatic effort to resolve concerns about North Korea's nuclear weapons program peacefully. He says that "we keep working at it every day."
President Donald Trump says he's spoken with Chinese leader Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) about North Korea's latest missile test.
Trump is promising more penalties against the North.
And Trump tweets that he's spoke with Xi about "the provocative actions of North Korea. Additional major sanctions will be imposed on North Korea today. This situation will be handled!"
A White House statement about the phone conversation says Trump made clear "the determination of the United States to defend ourselves and our allies." Trump also "emphasized the need for China to use all available levers to convince North Korea to end its provocations and return to the path of denuclearization."
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has sharply condemned North Korea's latest missile test.
Gabriel said in a statement Wednesday that "the ruthless behavior of North Korea is an enormous threat for international security."
He said that "the regime in Pyongyang has again escalated tensions in the region with its latest test."
Gabriel added that the missile launch was "proof what a threat North Korea poses for world peace."
After 2 1/2 months of relative quiet, North Korea said it successfully fired a "significantly more" powerful, nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile early Wednesday. Outside governments and analysts concurred it had made a jump in capability.
Russia says North Korea's latest missile test is a provocation that has hurt the chances for settling the ongoing crisis.
President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, voiced hope Wednesday that all parties involved would "maintain the calm needed to prevent the situation on the Korean Peninsula from developing along the worst scenario."
Peskov condemned the North's missile test as a "provocative action that foments tensions and puts off the launch of efforts to settle the crisis situation." He added that "there is no reason for optimism."
The test took place just as a Russian parliamentary delegation was visiting Pyongyang. Leonid Slutsky, the head of the lower house's international affairs committee, said its members were conveying Moscow's concern and trying to encourage the North to "stop the destructive escalation of tensions."
China's foreign ministry says the country is "seriously concerned about and opposed to" North Korea's latest missile test.
Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Wednesday that China "strongly urges" the North to abide by Security Council resolutions and cease actions that might escalate tensions.
Geng told reporters at a daily news briefing that all concerned parties should "act with caution and jointly safeguard regional peace and stability,"
China is North Korea's only significant ally and biggest source of trade and aid, but has backed increasingly harsh U.N. Security Council resolutions in hopes of convincing Pyongyang to return to talks.
It has called on the North to cease its missile tests and nuclear activities in return for the U.S. and South Korea suspending large-scale military exercises.
However, Beijing has rejected measures that could destabilize Kim Jong Un's regime and says military force is cannot be an option in dealing with the tensions.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has spoken with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over North Korea's latest test of an intercontinental ballistic missile and pledged joint efforts to strengthen sanctions and pressure on Pyongyang over its nuclear ambitions.
Moon's office said the leaders agreed during the phone conversation Wednesday that the threat posed by North Korea's expanding nuclear program should no longer be tolerated and vowed to push for stronger measures against the North at an upcoming U.N. Security Council meeting.
Moon's office also said he told Abe that he will also ask Chinese leader Xi Jinping for Beijing to take a stronger role in pressuring Pyongyang when he visits China in December.
Moon and Abe spoke with U.S. President Donald Trump earlier in the day and reaffirmed their condemnation for North Korea's expanding nuclear program.
A South Korean airline says captains of two of its passenger planes saw flashes believed to be from North Korea's latest missile launch while flying over Japan, and reported the sightings to ground control.
A Korean Air official said Wednesday that the planes were headed for South Korea's Incheon Airport after departing from San Francisco and Los Angeles. He didn't want to be named, citing office rules.
He said the captain of the first plane reported seeing a flash to Japanese ground control about an hour after North Korea fired what it said was a new intercontinental ballistic missile. Japan's defense minister said the missile landed in the Sea of Japan at about that time.
The airline official said the captain of the second plane made a similar report four minutes later as his plane passed along the same route.
He said both planes safely landed at Incheon and the missile didn't endanger their safety because the trajectory was far enough from the planes' flight paths.
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom says North Korea's ballistic missile test is an "increasing threat to global peace and security," and tweeted "This must stop. Dialogue only way forward."
Denmark's prime minister, Lars Loekke Rasmussen, who is visiting Indonesia and Singapore, said on Twitter that he strongly condemns continued North Korean violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions and encouraged "international society to remain united."
Loekke Rasmussen added that he is discussing the development with Southeast Asian leaders.
In Lithuania, Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius called the missile test "another act of madness from the criminal #DPRK (North Korean) regime," adding "firm continuation of maximum international pressure is an absolute must to put these provocations to the end."
After 2 ½ months of relative quiet, North Korea says it successfully fired a "significantly more" powerful, nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile. Outside governments and analysts concurred it had made a jump in capability.
North Korea's state media say leader Kim Jong Un ordered his engineers to launch a new intercontinental ballistic missile with "courage" a day ahead of the flight test where it demonstrated its reach deep into the U.S. mainland.
State television on Wednesday broadcast a photo of Kim's signed order where he wrote: "Test launch is approved. Taking place at the daybreak of Nov. 29! Fire with courage for the party and country!"
The North says Kim gave the order for the launch on Tuesday.
The ICBM launched early Wednesday morning was described as the Hwasong-15, with the capability to carry a nuclear warhead and with "significantly more" power than missiles it's tested earlier. Outside governments and analysts concur the North made a jump in missile capability with the launch.
The Trump administration threatened new sanctions on North Korea on Wednesday after the reclusive government shattered 2½ months of relative quiet with its most powerful weapon test yet, an intercontinental ballistic missile that some observers believe could reach Washington and the entire U.S. Eastern Seaboard.
President Donald Trump tweeted that he spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping about Pyongyang's "provocative actions," and he vowed that "additional major sanctions will be imposed on North Korea today. This situation will be handled!" Trump's top diplomat, Rex Tillerson, said the U.S. could target financial institutions doing business with the North.
The U.N. Security Council, meanwhile, was due to hold an emergency meeting Wednesday afternoon.
The fresh deliberations about new forms of punishment for North Korea came after its government said it successfully fired a "significantly more" powerful, nuclear-capable ICBM it called the Hwasong-15. Outside governments and analysts concurred the North had made a jump in missile capability.
A resumption of Pyongyang's torrid testing pace in pursuit of its goal of a viable arsenal of nuclear-tipped missiles that can hit the U.S. mainland had been widely expected. But the power of the missile and suddenness of the test jolted the Korean Peninsula and Washington. The launch at 3:17 a.m. Wednesday local time — early Tuesday afternoon in the U.S. capital — indicated an effort to perfect the element of surprise and obtain maximum attention in the U.S.
In a government statement released through state media, North Korea said the Hwasong-15, the "greatest ICBM," could be armed with a "super-large heavy nuclear warhead" and is capable of striking the "whole mainland" of the U.S. The North said the missile reached a height of 4,475 kilometers (2,780 miles) and traveled 950 kilometers (590 miles) before accurately hitting a sea target, similar to the flight data announced by South Korea's military.
After the launch, it said leader Kim Jong Un "declared with pride" that his country has achieved its goal of becoming a "rocket power." State TV said Kim gave the order Tuesday, and it broadcast a photo of Kim's signed order where he wrote: "Test launch is approved. Taking place at the daybreak of Nov. 29! Fire with courage for the party and country!"
The firing was a message of defiance to the Trump administration, which a week earlier restored North Korea to a U.S. list of terror sponsors. It also ruins nascent diplomatic efforts, raises fears of war or a pre-emptive U.S. strike and casts a deeper shadow over the security of the Winter Olympics early next year in South Korea.
A rattled Seoul responded by almost immediately launching three of its own missiles in a show of force. South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressed worry that North Korea's missile threat could force the U.S. to attack the North before it masters a nuclear-tipped long-range missile.
"If North Korea completes a ballistic missile that could reach from one continent to another, the situation can spiral out of control," Moon said at an emergency meeting in Seoul, according to his office. "We must stop a situation where North Korea miscalculates and threatens us with nuclear weapons or where the United States considers a pre-emptive strike."
Moon has repeatedly declared the U.S. cannot attack the North without Seoul's approval. But Washington may act without South Korean input.
The launch was North Korea's first since it fired an intermediate-range missile over Japan on Sept. 15 and may have broken any efforts at diplomacy. U.S. officials have sporadically floated the idea of direct talks with North Korea if it maintained restraint.
The missile also appeared an improvement on North Korea's past launches.
If flown on a standard trajectory, instead of Wednesday's lofted angle, the missile would have a range of more than 13,000 kilometers (8,100 miles), said U.S. scientist David Wright, a physicist who closely tracks North Korea's missile and nuclear programs. "Such a missile would have more than enough range to reach Washington, D.C., and in fact any part of the continental United States," Wright wrote in a blog post for the Union for Concerned Scientists.
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said the missile landed inside Japan's special economic zone in the Sea of Japan.
A big unknown, however, is the missile's payload. If, as expected, it carried a light mock warhead, then its effective range would have been shorter, analysts said.
In his call with Xi, Trump made clear "the determination of the United States to defend ourselves and our allies," according to a White House statement. Trump also "emphasized the need for China to use all available levers to convince North Korea to end its provocations and return to the path of denuclearization."
The Trump administration bolstered U.S. sanctions against North Korea last week and imposed new restrictions on North Korean shipping firms and Chinese companies that deal with the North.
China's state-run Xinhua news agency said Xi told Trump that China remained determined to clear the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons and to preserve peace and stability in Northeast Asia. Xi said China wants to maintain communications with the U.S. and others, and "jointly push the nuclear issue toward the direction of peaceful settlement via dialogues and negotiations."
Kim reported from Seoul. Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor and Robert Burns in Washington, Foster Klug in Seoul, Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.