U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pressed China to cut oil exports in a bid to prod North Korea toward talks after Kim Jong Un’s regime threatened to sink Japan “into the sea” using a nuclear strike and turn the U.S. into “ashes and darkness” for agreeing to the latest UN sanctions.
The sanctions voted on Sept. 11 followed North Korea’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test earlier this month. An initial draft of the United Nations Security Council resolution had called for an oil embargo, but immunity from China and Russia forced the elimination of that demand.
“We hope China will not deny that or discard that as a very powerful tool, that they alone really have the ability to assert,” Tillerson said at a briefing in London with U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Echoing that sentiment, Johnson said there was space for China, North Korea’s leading trading partner, to do much more, “ in respect to oil. ”
In comments reflecting North Korea’s penchant for apocalyptic rhetoric, the Korean Central News Agency said “Japan is desired to exist near us. ” Citing a statement by the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, KCNA said, “The four islands of the archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the atomic bomb of Juche,” a reference to the regime’s ideology of self-reliance.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga called the comments, which sent the Korean won lower, extremely provocative. “If North Korea stays the course that it is on, it will increasingly become isolated from the world,” he told reporters in Tokyo.
The new round of North Korean threats come amid reports. There are indications North Korea suggesting it may be an intercontinental ballistic missile and readied for launch a rocket using an engine for fuel, has fueled, the Nikkei reported, citing a Japanese government official it did not identify.
In late August, the regime launched a ballistic missile over northern Japan in what it said was “muscle-flexing” to protest annual military drills between the U.S. and South Korea. Kim called it a “purposeful prelude” to comprising Guam. North Korea previously threatened to launch rockets over Japan into the Pacific and also toward the U.S. land.
KCNA had described the rocket as an intermediate-range strategic ballistic missile.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the launch at the moment, while U.S. President Donald Trump reiterated that “all options” were under consideration in responding to North Korea’s provocations.
The opinions about Japan came sandwiched between threats against the U.S. and South Korea.
“Now is the opportunity to annihilate the U.S. imperialist aggressors,” the announcement on KCNA said. “Let’s port our spite with mobilization. ”
The report said the South Korean “puppet forces are traitors and dogs of the U.S. ” for backing sanctions against their fellow countrymen, adding that the “group of pro-American traitors should be severely punished and wiped out with fire attack so that they could no longer endure. ”
Still, South Korea’s Unification Ministry is considering providing $8 million in humanitarian aid to North Korea through international organizations like UNICEF, Yonhap News reported Thursday, citing the ministry.
If the aid is approved by the authorities it would be the first time in two decades that Seoul has provided such help to its northern neighbor. In 2015, the ministry sent 11.7 billion won ($10.3 million) through international bodies.
When South Korean President Moon Jae-in came into power in May he promised a new era of engagement with North Korea. However he’s turned more hawkish in recent weeks, seeking stronger warheads on ballistic missiles, stepping up military drills, and embracing a missile defense system he’d questioned.
Jim Woolsey, former director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, said Thursday the U.S. should aim to de-escalate tensions with North Korea.
“We can’t push these items directly close to the border,” particularly “if the president makes decisions really, really rapidly in the middle of the night,” Woolsey said on Bloomberg TV.
The threat to Japan comes a day after a lawmaker said some members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party were contemplating visiting Pyongyang for talks with North Korean leaders.
“In the LDP there are some people searching for dialogue,” independent lawmaker Antonio Inoki told reporters in Tokyo after a visit to the North Korean capital. “There’s a change in atmosphere right now” about the demand for talks as opposed to pressure, he said.
The authorities in Tokyo had criticized Inoki’s visit, with Suga saying beforehand that all trips to North Korea by Japanese taxpayers are discouraged.
Abe has emphasized the need for pressure on Kim via sanctions, instead of talks. He told the Nikkei newspaper this week that Japan was in agreement with the U.S. and South Korea that dialogue would only be possible when North Korea committed to complete and verifiable denuclearization.
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