UN Security Council to hold emergency meeting after North Korean nuclear test
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson does not favour military action.
The United Nations Security Council will hold an emergency meeting in response to North Korea’s most powerful nuclear test – as the Trump administration warned any threat to the US or its allies would trigger a “massive military response”.
The meeting on Monday, at the request of the UK, US, Japan, France and South Korea, comes after Kim Jong Un’s regime carried out its sixth test of a nuclear device.
US defence secretary Jim Mattis briefed President Donald Trump about the military options available if the crisis escalated, adding that Washington was capable of launching an “effective and overwhelming” response.
While the US was “not looking to the total annihilation” of North Korea there were “many options to do so”, he said.
But in the UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson cautioned against a military strike, because North Korea already had the ability to “vaporise” large parts of the population of South Korea even without nuclear weapons.
Prime Minister Theresa May said Pyongyang’s actions posed an “unacceptable further threat to the international community” and urged world leaders to increase pressure on the regime.
The test blast came after propaganda pictures were published of Kim examining what was said to be a nuclear warhead being fitted on to the nose of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Mrs May reiterated the call for “tougher action, including increasing the pace of implementation of existing sanctions and looking urgently in the UN Security Council at new measures” she had made alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during her visit last week.
She said: “This is now even more pressing. The international community has universally condemned this test and must come together to continue to increase the pressure on North Korea’s leaders to stop their destabilising actions.”
The Foreign Secretary played down the prospect of military action although he acknowledged all options remained on the table.
Mr Johnson said: “There is no question that this is another provocation, it is reckless, what they are doing is, they seem to be moving closer towards a hydrogen bomb which, if fitted to a successful missile, would unquestionably present a new order of threat.”
Arguing for a diplomatic solution he said: “It’s certainly our view that none of the military options are good. It is of course right to say that all options are on the table, but we really don’t see an easy military solution.”
The Chinese government “expressed firm opposition and strong condemnation” and urged North Korea to “stop taking erroneous actions that deteriorate the situation”.
The United States is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2017
South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2017
But Mr Johnson urged Beijing to go further in putting economic pressure on its neighbour.
He said: “Our message to the Chinese is, and we are working ever more closely with them, we think there is more scope for you, the Chinese, to put economic pressure on the North Koreans.
“It has worked, we have seen signs in the last six months of Chinese pressure actually changing the approach of North Koreans – let’s see if we can do it again.”