US pushing for tougher sanctions on N Korea after missile tests

Pyongyang has continued to test ballistic missiles in defiance of a UN ban, and says it is also developing hypersonic weaponry.

A missile launched from a transporter in a cloud of flames and smoke
The US wants the UN to further tighten sanctions on North Korea because it carried out six banned missiles tests since September [File: KCNA via Reuters]

The United States is pushing the UN Security Council to impose more sanctions on North Korea after Pyongyang carried out a series of missile tests in defiance of United Nations resolutions, US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said on Wednesday.

“The US is proposing UN sanctions following North Korea’s six ballistic missile launches since September 2021, each of which was in violation of UN Security Council resolutions,” Thomas-Greenfield said on Twitter, after Washington blacklisted six North Koreans, a Russian, and a Russian firm — accusing them of procuring goods for the missile programmes from Russia and China.

“Today’s designations convey our serious concern about North Korea’s continued ballistic missile launches and proliferation activities,” she wrote in a separate tweet. “We urge all @UN Member States to fully implement their obligations under UNSC resolutions.”

A US diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Reuters news agency that Washington had proposed five of those individuals also be subjected to a UN travel ban and asset freeze. The move has to be agreed by consensus by the Security Council’s 15-member North Korea sanctions committee, which includes Russia and China.

“We continue to coordinate with partners to prepare the additional three individuals and entities designated by State for UN nomination,” the diplomat said.

Pyongyang on Tuesday carried out its second missile launch in less than a week, with state media publishing photos of leader Kim Jong Un supervising the test of what it said was a hypersonic missile.

Such weapons are prized for their manoeuvrability and ability to evade traditional defences, and are also being developed by the US, China and Russia. North Korea first tested what it said was a hypersonic weapon in September last year.

Kim Jong Un on the right in a long black leather coat discusses a missile launch with official including his sister Kim Yo Jong who stands on the right and is clapping enthusiastically
Kim was pictured at Tuesday’s test along with his sister Kim Yo Jong (far left). It was the  first time state media had shown him observing a test in nearly two years [KCNA via AFP]

The UN first imposed sanctions on North Korea in 2006 over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, and the measures have been progressively tightened over the years to choke off funding for the illicit programmes.

Denuclearisation talks have been stalled since a summit in Hanoi between Kim and then US President Donald Trump broke down over Pyongyang’s demands for sanctions relief.

Joe Biden, who took office a year ago, has said he is willing to reopen discussions.

North Korea continued developing its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes during the first half of 2021 in violation of UN sanctions and despite the country’s worsening economic situation, UN sanctions monitors reported in August.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters