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US says North Korea 'poses a threat to us all'

Trump’s team wants to get China, Pyongyang’s ally, on side.

MATTIS US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis Source: Joseph Nair/AP/Press Association Images

NORTH KOREA AND its nuclear weapons programme pose a “threat to us all”, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has said, calling on the international community to work together on the issue.

“It is therefore imperative that we do our part each of us to fulfil our obligations and work together to support our shared goal of denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula,” Mattis said in a policy speech at the Shangri-La defence summit in Singapore today.

Pyongyang test-fired another rocket on Monday, the latest in a series of launches and atomic tests that have ratcheted up tensions over its quest to develop weapons capable of hitting the United States — something President Donald Trump has said “won’t happen”.

“The regime’s actions are manifestly illegal under international law,” Mattis said.

“There is a strong international consensus that the current situation cannot continue. China’s declared policy of a denuclearised Korean Peninsula is our policy as well, and also that of Japan and the Republic of Korea.”

Trump — who frequently denounced China on the campaign trail — has turned to Beijing to help rein in North Korea’s weapons programme.

Mattis’s challenge on his visit is to reassure allies that America can apply pressure on China over its claims in the South China Sea, while at the same time convincing Beijing that controlling North Korea is in its own security interests.

“The Trump administration is encouraged by China’s renewed commitment to work with the international community toward denuclearisation,” Mattis said.

UN sanctions

The UN Security Council yesterday imposed sanctions on 18 North Korean officials and entities as the US vowed to respond to Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear tests “through other means, if necessary”.

The council unanimously adopted a US-drafted resolution that put North Korea’s suspected spy chief, 13 other officials and four entities on the UN sanctions blacklist, hitting them with a global travel ban and an assets freeze.

United Nations - North Korea South Korea's United Nations Ambassador Cho Tae-yul addressing the UN Security Council Source: Bebeto Matthews/PA

“The Security Council is sending a clear message to North Korea today: Stop firing ballistic missiles or face the consequences,” US Ambassador Nikki Haley told the council.

“Beyond diplomatic and financial consequences, the United States remains prepared to counteract North Korean aggression through other means, if necessary,” she added.

China, Pyongyang’s ally, backed the sanctions but renewed its appeal for dialogue to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula.

© AFP 2017

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