US and allies vow pressure on North Korea after new missile launch
US Vice President Kamala Harris and leaders from Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Canada vowed to pressure North Korea as they held urgent talks Friday on Pyongyang’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Hours after North Korea fired a missile that Japan said was capable of striking the US mainland, Harris met the leaders of close US partners on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit in Bangkok.
“We strongly condemn these actions and we again call for North Korea to stop further unlawful, destabilising acts,” Harris told reporters at the start of the talks.
“On behalf of the United States I reaffirm our ironclad commitment to our Indo-Pacific alliances,” she said.
“Together the countries represented here will continue to urge North Korea to commit to serious and sustained diplomacy.”
Japan said the missile landed in its waters. The launch follows weeks of spiralling tensions with North Korea, which US intelligence believes is preparing a seventh nuclear test.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, taking part in the meeting, warned: “There is the possibility that North Korea will launch further missiles.”
South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo called the launch by the North, officially called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a “great provocation” that violated UN Security Council resolutions.
“We strongly condemn this brazen act and would like to emphasize that such illegal activities by the DPRK will never be tolerated and the international community must respond in a resolute manner,” Han said.
US President Joe Biden met Sunday to discuss North Korea with both Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol on the sidelines of a Southeast Asian summit in Cambodia.
They issued a joint warning of consequences if North Korea carries out a nuclear test. Pyongyang denounced the three-way meeting as evidence of US hostility.
On Friday, the three allies were joined by more countries in their joint campaign against the isolated state.
“These unprecedented multiple ballistic missile launches undermine our security. They are reckless actions,” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said.
The leaders are “calling for North Korea to stop this reckless activity – this provocation – and to stand by and to comply with previous United Nations resolutions”, Albanese said.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he joined allies in “condemning in the strongest terms” the “continued irresponsible actions of North Korea”.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also took part in the talks.
Harris is participating in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting after Biden flew home for his granddaughter’s wedding.
The Biden administration is hoping to raise pressure on North Korea but also believes that the ultimate key to coaxing Pyongyang will be its primary ally – China.
Biden met Monday with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in Bali and voiced confidence that Beijing shared basic goals on North Korea – one of the world’s most isolated and poorest nations.
“I’m confident China’s not looking for North Korea to engage in further escalation,” Biden told reporters afterwards.
But China and Russia, whose relations with the West have deteriorated sharply over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, in May vetoed a US-led bid at the UN Security Council to stiffen sanctions on North Korea.
Biden has offered to begin working-level dialogue with North Korea but has seen no interest from Pyongyang.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held three made-for-television meetings with Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, succeeding in easing tensions but reaching no lasting agreement.
The United States says it will never recognise North Korea as a nuclear power, while most experts believe Pyongyang will never give up its arsenal.