Japan hopes new North Korea sanctions proposal ready in days

Japan’s ambassador to the United Nations said Tuesday he hopes a draft U.N. resolution that would impose new sanctions against North Korea following its tests of an intercontinental ballistic missile will be finished “in days.”

The United States and China said a week ago that they were making progress on a resolution that would then need to be discussed and approved by the 15-member Security Council. The U.S. gave China, North Korea’s neighbor and ally, a proposed resolution several weeks ago.

Japanese Ambassador Koro Bessho, whose country is on the council, told reporters Tuesday that “there’s been a lot of work” and discussion on the text.

“Japan has put in some ideas,” the U.S. and China “are seriously looking into this, (and) I hope that we can get it done in days,” he said.

Russia’s new U.N. ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, called North Korea’s intensifying missile program “really serious,” telling reporters the entire international community is concerned and “we’ll be working to see what we can do together in the council.”

The Security Council has already imposed six rounds of progressively tougher sanctions on North Korea, but so far that has failed to halt the country’s rapidly advancing nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

North Korea’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile as Americans celebrated Independence Day on July 4 marked a significant step toward young North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s goal of developing a missile with a nuclear warhead capable of reaching the United States. Pyongyang followed up with a second ICBM launch Friday.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley has refused to say what sanctions are being discussed with China.

But in early July she told the Security Council that if it is united, the international community can cut off major sources of hard currency to North Korea, restrict oil to its military and weapons programs, increase air and maritime restrictions, and hold senior officials accountable.

She has repeatedly stressed that the United States wants to ensure that a new resolution is “a strong resolution.”

“An additional Security Council resolution that does not significantly increase the international pressure on North Korea is of no value,” she said in a statement Sunday. “In fact, it is worse than nothing, because it sends the message to the North Korean dictator that the international community is unwilling to seriously challenge him.”

Haley said the time for talking is over and “China must decide whether it is finally willing to take this vital step.”

But Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi said Monday that the United States and North Korea hold “the primary responsibility” for de-escalating tensions and negotiating peace on the Korean Peninsula — not China.

He said if Washington and Pyongyang refuse to reduce tensions and hold new talks as called for in Security Council resolutions “then no matter how capable China is, China’s efforts will not yield practical results — because it depends on the two principal parties.”

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