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North Korea Crisis

US may revamp North Korea policy, UN ambassador indicates

Security Council pledges further response to Pyongyang's sanctions violations

ARIANA KING, Nikkei staff writer | North Korea

UNITED NATIONS -- The new American ambassador to the U.N. asserted Wednesday that the U.S. is re-evaluating its stance on North Korea and "will act accordingly," following Pyongyang's firing of four ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan this week.

"It is an unbelievable, irresponsible arrogance that we are seeing coming out of [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un at this time," Nikki Haley told reporters alongside the U.N. ambassadors from Japan and South Korea. "I think all the member states recognize that, and they're all sitting back now trying to figure out how we move forward."

Haley spoke after the U.N. Security Council agreed at an emergency meeting to take "further significant measures" in light of the reclusive country's continued breach of international sanctions resolutions.

Three of the four missiles landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone, within 200 nautical miles of the coast. North Korean news agency KCNA described the launch as part of a test exercise to strike U.S. bases in Japan.

Koro Bessho, Japan's ambassador to the U.N., called the provocation "totally unacceptable" and urged the international community to take a strong stance and send a clear message to the North. In a letter sent to the Security Council president Monday, Pyongyang justified its nuclear forces as a response to "extreme anti-[North Korea] hostile policy" by the U.S. and requested that U.S.-South Korean joint military exercises be added to the council's agenda. The annual U.S.-South Korea military drill "Foal Eagle" began March 1.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, speaking with reporters Wednesday in Beijing, called on North Korea to cease nuclear provocations and for the U.S. and South Korea to halt the joint military drills. Wang described the situation as "accelerating trains coming toward each other, and neither side is willing to give way." He urged the parties to resume dialogue.

Haley did not dismiss the option of dialogue with the reclusive country, but she said some form of "positive action" from Pyongyang would be necessary to begin engaging with Kim seriously.

"We are not dealing with a rational person," she said. "If this was any other country, we would be talking about [negotiations] and it wouldn't be an issue."

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson travels to Beijing on March 18, likely addressing Pyongyang's nuclear and missile provocations during his trip.

Pyongyang has continued to flout sanctions with "evasion techniques that are increasing in scale, scope and sophistication," a panel of experts tasked with investigating North Korean sanctions violations said in its 2016 report released this week.

The report detailed an interdiction by Egyptian authorities of a Cambodian-flagged vessel called the Jie Shun carrying about 30,000 rocket-propelled grenades concealed amid 2,300 tons of iron ore -- the largest ammunition consignment in the history of North Korean sanctions.

Despite a record number of sanctions implementation reports filed to the committee, 116 of 193 member states have yet to submit reports as of Wednesday.

China, the North's largest trading partner, recently announced plans to halt imports of North Korean coal, in line with U.N. sanctions.

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