May 24, 2017 6:30 am JST

Tighter sanctions, return to talks floated at UN meeting on North Korea

Security Council again discusses containing Pyongyang after another missile test

ARIANA KING, Nikkei staff writer

UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. Security Council took up North Korea's latest test of a medium-range ballistic missile at an urgent meeting Tuesday, only days after gathering about a separate missile launch.

"It is exactly one week since we gathered here for the very same subject," said Koro Bessho, the Japanese ambassador to the U.N., in a news conference after the closed-door session. Pyongyang is acting in a "triumphant and emboldened manner by this most recent launch and is now clearly demonstrating that it is determined to further bolster its nuclear buildup," he said.

Bessho declared that such provocations "trample upon international efforts towards the peaceful solution of nuclear and missile issues and present an enormous global threat."

The North has continued doggedly in its advancement of proscribed ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs, despite six rounds of U.N. sanctions. It has launched 11 missiles and one missile engine over nine tests this year alone.

A number of Security Council members, including the U.S., Japan, France and the U.K., have advocated for tightening sanctions in hopes of rendering the North unable to afford such programs.

Also discussed at the meeting was implementing recommendations from the latest expert panel report, which detailed instances in which Pyongyang has exploited loopholes to evade existing sanctions, according to a diplomat present.

The recommendations include the designation of additional entities and individuals to the sanctions list. Also included are recommendations relating to the monitoring of banking and financial institutions as well as the registration of flags from ships operated by crews from the North.

Some can be adopted by the sanctions committee without an additional resolution in the Security Council and could be considered as a response for the shorter term, the diplomat said.

But other members sought an immediate return to the negotiating table.

Looking at the history of solutions to the North Korean issue and efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, all progress has come from dialogue, Chinese U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi told reporters after the meeting. So there is no reason why dialogue is not taking place now, he said, arguing that political will is needed.

"Of course, the measures described in the previous Security Council resolutions should be implemented firmly, but meanwhile, we should also work to reduce tension, to de-escalate, and also to try to achieve denuclearization through dialogue by political and diplomatic means," Liu said.

In a separate news conference after Tuesday's meeting, Security Council President Elbio Rosselli expressed concern over Pyongyang's launch -- its second test of a medium-range missile in as many weeks. Calling the consecutive tests a "quantum leap," he noted that such work displays a "determined effort to acquire aggressive capabilities." Rosselli, Uruguay's ambassador to the U.N., is this month's president of the Security Council.

Without vouching for one over another, he told reporters that the council was considering different options. Which route the council goes "will be a matter of continued discussions, but there is an absolute condemnation by the 15 members of the council" on North Korea, Rosselli said.

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