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North Korea tensions: All the latest updates

Here are the latest developments on the tensions with North Korea:

  • Pyongyang also said on Wednesday that putting North Korea back on the terrorism blacklist will only strengthen its resolve to further develop the communist country’s nuclear weapons programme.
  • Cuba’s foreign minister also rejected the United States’ “unilateral and arbitrary” demands on Wednesday while expressing concern about escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula, the ministry said.

  • UN criticises N Korea for chasing defector. The United Nations Command says North Korea violated the Korean Armistice Agreement when its troops shot at and chased a North Korean soldier who was defecting across the border.
  • Trump blacklists North Korea. President Donald Trump has designated  North Kore a a state sponsor of terrorism; he also promised more US Treasury sanctions against Pyongyang.
  • Japan’s Abe vows to bolster defense:  On FridayJapanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to bolster his country’s defenses, calling the threat from North Korea the gravest security concern Japan has faced since World War II.

  • US says Sudan cutting trade, military ties to North Korea: On Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Sudan is taking the step due to the “critical threat posed by the North’s nuclear programme.
  • Duterte: War with N Korea would ‘end humanity’. On Tuesday, Rodrigo Duterte predicted a war with the North would end in a “nuclear holocaust” in his closing remarks at the ASEAN summit in Manila.
  • North Korean soldier shot by comrades while defecting. South Korean forces are on high alert for possible provocations after a North Korean soldier was shot and wounded by his comrades as he defected across the demilitarised zone.
  • US-S Korea launch major war drills. The US and South Korea launched military manoeuvres involving three American aircraft carrier strike groups on Saturday in a massive show of force that drew the anger of rival North Korea.
  • Russia opposes ‘total embargo’. “We have never supported the idea of a total embargo of North Korea, like any other country,” Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Wednesday.
  • North Korea says sanctions hurting women, children. On Wednesday, North Korea said it was working to uphold women’s rights and gender equality but that sanctions imposed by major powers were taking a toll on vulnerable families.
  • Trump arrives in China. US President Donald Trump arrived in Beijing on Wednesday for his first official visit.
  • From Seoul, Trump had called on China to sever its relations with North Korea, saying: “You cannot support, you cannot supply, you cannot accept”.
  • Trump delivers speech in Seoul. US President Donald Trump delivered a speech on Wednesday at the South Korean parliament. In his speech, Trump criticised North Korea as a “cruel dictatorship”.
  • Trump was also meant to visit the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides the two Koreas but did not because of bad weather.
  • Additional sanctions. Japan said on Tuesday it would impose additional sanctions on North Korea in response to the continuing threat posed by its missile and nuclear programmes.
  • Anti-Trump demonstrations across South Korea. Representatives from several labour unions and social movements across South Korea took to Seoul streets on Tuesday to protest “warmonger” Trump.
  • Demonstrations have also been taking place in front of the US embassy in Seoul.
  • US Senate targets Chinese banks. The US Senate Banking Committee unanimously backed new sanctions targeting Chinese banks that do business with North Korea on Tuesday.
  • Japan calls for more pressure. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday it was time to exert maximum pressure on North Korea.

  • Abe agreed with President Donald Trump that China should play a bigger role in getting Pyongyang to give up its weapons programmes.

  • Trump in Japan stresses unity on North Korea. President Donald Trumpramped up his rhetoric against North Korea when he arrived in Japan on Sunday, saying the United States and its allies are prepared to defend freedom and “no dictator” should underestimate US resolve.

  • NATO urges sanctions implementation. On Tuesday, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg urged all United Nations members to fully and transparently implement sanctions against North Korea, which he said has emerged as a global threat able to fire ballistic missiles as far as Europe and North America.
  • Trilateral meeting in Hawaii. Senior defence officials from the United States, South Korea and Japan held trilateral talks on Monday and urged North Korea to walk away from its “destructive and reckless path” of weapons development, the US military said in a statement.

UK: ‘Military option must remain on the table’

  • A military option must remain on the table in dealing with North Korea’s nuclear program, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Monday.
  • “I don’t think anybody could conceivably want a military solution to this problem,” Johnson said at a speech in London. “And yet clearly… the possibility of some kind of military option… that possibility must at least theoretically be maintained on the table.”

Mattis to visit South Korea

  • US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he would talk with Asian allies about North Korea and the crisis caused by Pyongyang’s “reckless” provocations, as he kicked off a week-long trip to the region on Monday to meet defence chiefs in the Philippines.
  • Mattis’ trip to Asia, which will also include stops in Thailand and South Korea, comes just weeks before President Donald Trump’s first visit to Asia.

Abe and Trump to raise pressure

  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald Trump agreed to work together to raise pressure on North Korea, Yasutoshi Nishimura, a deputy chief cabinet secretary, said.
  • Abe and Trump spoke by telephone after the Japanese premier’s ruling coalition scored a big win in an election the previous day.

Abe pledges to tackle crisis

  • After an election victory, Japan’s leader pledged to tackle what he called Japan’s two national crises: the military threat from North Korea and an ageing and shrinking population.
  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a news conference that he is committed to protecting the Japanese people’s prosperity and peace from any contingency.
  • “I will pursue decisive and strong diplomacy to tackle North Korea’s missile, nuclear and abduction issues and put further pressure to get it to change its policy,” he said.

Jimmy Carter offers to visit North Korea

  • Former US President Jimmy Carter said he would be willing to travel to North Korea on behalf of the Trump administration to help diffuse rising tensions.
  • Carter, a Democrat who was president from 1977 to 1981, said he had spoken to Trump’s National Security Adviser Lieutenant General HR McMaster, but so far has gotten a negative response.
  • “I told him that I was available if they ever need me,” the New York Times quoted Carter as saying.

Trump to visit South Korea

  • On November 3, Donald Trump will start a trip that will take him to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. It will be his first tour of Asia since taking power in January.
  • In an interview with Fox Business Network, Trump said he wants to “keep things very, very low key” with the Chinese President Xi Jinping until the Chinese leader emerges from the party congress.

No talks over nuclear programme

  • Pyongyang does not plan to hold any talks with Washington about its nuclear programme, a senior North Korean diplomat said on Friday, declaring that possessing nuclear weapons was a matter of life and death for North Korea.
  • Choe Son-hui, director-general of the North American department of North Korea’s foreign ministry, told a non-proliferation conference in Moscow Washington would “have to put up” with North Korea’s nuclear status. “This is a matter of life and death for us. The current situation deepens our understanding that we need nuclear weapons to repel a potential attack.”

Switzerland sanctions North Korea

  • Switzerland decreed that it will implement the latest UN sanctions on North Korea, affecting the financial sector and work authorisations for North Koreans in Switzerland.
  • North Koreans whose employment contracts were signed before September 11 are exempt from the sanctions. Any new North Korean workers entering the state are to be turned away, according to the report.
  • All joint ventures and “cooperation” projects are to be suspended by January 9.

Russia and China propose roadmap

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged world powers on Friday to get behind a joint Russian-Chinese roadmap for settling the crisis over North Korea’s weapons program.
  • Speaking at a conference on non-proliferation in Moscow, Lavrov said that the break-up of a deal on Iran‘s nuclear program would send an alarming message about international security mechanisms, and could impact the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea threatens US ship

  • North Korea’s official news agency described a US aircraft carrier patrolling off the Korean Peninsula as a “primary target” and said Washington should expect an “unimaginable” attack.
  • North Korea condemned Seoul and Washington’s move to mobilise nuclear strategic assets near the volatile peninsula. Pyongyang has slammed the warship manoeuvres as a “rehearsal for war”.
  • “The US is running amok by introducing under our nose the targets we have set as primary ones. The US should expect that it would face [an] unimaginable strike at an unimaginable time,” said a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

“Unprecedented” communication with Australia

  • North Korea has sent a letter to Australia’s parliament, warning it is a nuclear power and will not be cowed by US President Trump’s threats to destroy it, according to a copy of the letter published in an Australian newspaper on Friday.
  •  “If Trump thinks that he would bring the DPRK, a nuclear power, to its knees through nuclear war threat, it will be a big miscalculation and an expression of ignorance,” said a facsimile of the letter, published by the Sydney Morning Herald and verified by Australia’s foreign ministry.
  • “Trump threatened to totally destroy the DPRK … it is an extreme act of threatening to totally destroy the whole world.”
  • At a press conference in Sydney, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the note was an “unprecedented” communication. “It is not the way they usually publish their global messages. The collective strategy of imposing maximum diplomatic and economic pressure through sanctions on North Korea is working. This is a response to the pressure.”

US, S Korea, Japan discuss North Korea

  • Senior officials from the United States, South Korea and Japan reaffirmed their countries’ commitment Wednesday to finding a diplomatic solution to the threat posed by North Korea’s rapidly expanding nuclear program. However, US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan stressed that the allies must be prepared for any contingency.
  • After meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts in Seoul, John Sullivan said the US continues to view diplomacy, supported by pressure and sanctions, as the primary means for solving the North Korean nuclear problem.
  •  “Our objective is, throughout that campaign of pressure, to bring North Korea to the negotiating table without preconditions so that we can achieve our objective of a denuclearised Korean Peninsula,” Sullivan said at a news conference.

Clinton: Threats of war ‘dangerous’

  • Former US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday that “cavalier” threats to start a war on the Korean Peninsula were “dangerous and short-sighted”, urging the United States to get all parties to the negotiating table.
  • Clinton also called on China to take a “more out front role” in enforcing sanctions against North Korea aimed at curbing its missile and nuclear development.
  • “There is no need for us to be bellicose and aggressive (over North Korea),” Clinton told the World Knowledge Forum in the South Korean capital of Seoul, stressing the need for more pressure on North Korea and diplomacy to bring Pyongyang to talks.

Nuclear war may break out at ‘any moment’

  • North Korea’s deputy UN ambassador has warned the situation on the Korean Peninsula “has reached the touch-and-go point and a nuclear war may break out any moment”.
  • Kim In-ryong told the UN General Assembly’s disarmament committee on Monday that North Korea is the only country in the world that has been subjected to “such an extreme and direct nuclear threat” from the United States since the 1970s.
  • He pointed to large-scale military exercises every year using “nuclear assets” and said what is more dangerous is what he called a US plan to stage a “secret operation aimed at the removal of our supreme leadership”.
  • “The entire US mainland is within our firing range and if the US dares to invade our sacred territory even an inch, it will not escape our severe punishment in any part of the globe,” he warned.

‘Don’t join any US action and you’re safe’

  • North Korea warned countries at the United Nations on Monday in a statement: don’t join the United States in military action against the Asian state and you will be safe from retaliation.
  •  The caution was contained in a copy of North Korean Deputy UN Ambassador Kim In Ryong’s prepared remarks for a discussion on nuclear weapons by a UN General Assembly committee. However, Kim did not read that section out loud.
  • “The entire US mainland is within our firing range and if the US dares to invade our sacred territory even an inch it will not escape our severe punishment in any part of the globe,” the statement read.

Diplomacy to continue until ‘first bomb drops’

  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday that President Donald Trump had instructed him to continue diplomatic efforts to calm rising tensions with North Korea, saying “those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops.”
  • Tillerson downplayed messages that President Trump had previously posted on Twitter suggesting Tillerson was wasting his time trying to negotiate with “Little Rocket Man,” a derogatory nickname Trump has coined for North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un.

N. Korea readies missile launch, report says

  • North Korea is believed to be preparing to launch a ballistic missile ahead of an upcoming joint naval drill by the US and South Korea, a news report said Saturday, citing a government source.
  • The US navy said Friday that a US aircraft carrier will lead the drill in the coming week, a fresh show of force against North Korea as tensions soar over the hermit state’s weapons programme.
  • The move will likely rile Pyongyang which has previously responded angrily to joint exercises.

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