US exploring new sanctions against North Korea

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After North Korea’s nuclear test alarmed the international community, the US is now exploring new sanctions and strengthening of existing sanctions against North Korea. It will seek the mandate of the UN Security Council in this matter.

Considering the latest thermos-nuclear explosion carried out by North Korea, the US underlined it is a matter of US national security, and pledged its alliance commitment to South Korea. North Korea has been threatening the US and has described the latest nuclear test a response to “US aggression.” “We do…we have an alliance commitment with the Republic of Korea that we take very, very seriously. Obviously, nobody wants to see it come to that. But we have a robust military presence there on the peninsula that is, as they say, they’re ready tonight if they need to be,” State Department Spokesperson John Kirby said.  The US reached out not only to its Asian partners including Japan, but also to China, seeking to use its influence.

According to the White House, initial assessments by US agencies doubted the North Korean claim that the device was a hydrogen bomb. US Deputy Secretary Antony J. Blinken will be heading to Asia next week on a visit that had been planned earlier, but the nuclear tension will top his agenda now.

China remains a crucial player that can reduce the tensions in the region. US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to talk to his Chinese counterpart soon. The US was encouraged by China’s response that it “firmly opposed” North Korea’s move. “We would look to and hope for China’s leadership going forward with respect to holding the North accountable. ….we would look and hope for China’s continued influence in a positive way,” Mr Kirby said.

US has expressed readiness to talk to North Korea in the six-party format, started in 2003 and aborted in 2009, which comprises China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Russia, and the US. The US wants the talks to restart. However, it wants to restart the talks with a predetermined objective of dismantling the nuclear apparatus of North Korea. The US also hopes that China will take the lead.

North Korea has been unwilling to accept the restarting of talks. US officials ruled out any review of the US position on this. “If they want to return to the table through the Six-Party Talks, the onus is on them to show that they’re willing to do that. And they have not shown a willingness to do that yet. But the international community is still willing to go down that road that obviously they aren’t,” Mr Kirby said.

 

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