December 13, 2019 09:52
The U.S. sent a warning message to North Korea at the UN Security Council on Wednesday, citing the regime's recent short-range ballistic missile tests that it had so far turned a blind eye to and hinting at additional sanctions.
It urged the North to return to the dialogue table, promising to be "flexible" in talks. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft told a UNSC meeting about the North's threats to take a "new path" in the coming weeks and its hints of "a resumption of serious provocations."
The regime looks poised to launch a long-range with ballistic missile technology that is "designed to attack the continental United States with nuclear weapons," she added.
Craft said the regime's "continued ballistic missile testing is deeply counterproductive" to objectives shared by U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at summits.
"It will not bring [North Korea] or the region greater stability. It will not help [Pyongyang] achieve the economic opportunities it seeks," she warned.
The regime has conducted about 20 short-range ballistic missile tests this year alone, she said. "These ballistic missile tests, no matter their range, undermine regional security and stability and are in clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions."
Trump had previously dismissed them as unimportant because they do not threaten the mainland U.S. But Craft said Washington is "prepared to be flexible" and "take actions in parallel, and to simultaneously take concrete steps towards" an agreement. "Let me be clear, we have not asked North Korea to do everything, before we do anything," she added.
The U.S. demands lost some of their bite when it became clear that the UNSC is deeply divided, not least due to Trump's trade wars and belligerent rhetoric toward other members. Both the Chinese and Russian representatives at the UNSC called for sanctions against North Korea to be eased.
North Korea responded furiously. In a statement on Thursday afternoon, a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman called the UNSC meeting "hostile provocation" and pledged "never" to forget it.
"We have nothing more to lose," it added. "The U.S. decisively helped us reach a definite decision about which path we should take."
Meanwhile the U.S. seems to be readying itself to test a missile of its own. Later Wednesday it set up a no-fly zone around Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
In a public notice, the Air Force declared a 1,000 km-long no-fly zone in the direction of the Pacific from the Vandenberg base. Several tests of Minuteman-III intercontinental ballistic missiles were conducted at the base between May and October this year.
It also sent E-8C Joint STARS and RC-135W Rivet Joint surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft to skies over the Korean Peninsula on Thursday, according to flight tracker Aircraft Spots. Their mission was presumably to monitor the North's preparations for the rocket launch.
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