Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tells UN that the time for talk is over on North Korea
Abe urges countries to unite and enforce sanctions against Pyongyang
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday that countries need to unite to enforce sanctions and apply pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear and missile programmes.
“Now is not the time for dialogue. Now is the time to apply pressure,” Abe told a gathering of investors at the New York Stock Exchange, remarks he later reiterated in an address to the annual United Nations General Assembly.
On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump warned North Korea in his speech to the UN that the United States would “totally destroy” the country if threatened.
In contrast, Japan’s Asian rival China, and Russia, have called repeatedly for a return to international diplomacy and talks with North Korea to resolve the crisis over Pyongyang’s weapons programmes.
“We can’t be satisfied that the UN has approved new sanctions against North Korea,” Abe said. “What’s crucial now is to put sanctions into effect without lapses and that requires close cooperation with China and Russia.”
Abe also told UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres that reform of the UN must include changes to the Security Council.
Japan is currently serving a non-permanent term on the Security Council, set to end in December, but has long sought a permanent spot on the decision-making body along with Brazil, Germany and India as the “Group of Four”.
Abe told Guterres he hopes for “visible progress” to be made during the current UN General Assembly and a message to be sent that Security Council reform is essential.
The Japanese official said Guterres responded “positively” to the suggestion, including to the mention of Security Council reform.
In his UN speech, Abe said North Korean nuclear weapons either already were, or were on the verge of becoming, hydrogen bombs, presenting an unprecedented threat.
“It is indisputably a matter of urgency,” Abe said.
“We must prevent the goods, funds, people, and technology necessary for nuclear and missile development from heading to North Korea,” he said.
“Whether or not we can put an end to the provocations by North Korea is dependent upon the solidarity of the international community. There is not much time left.”
Abe said Japan, a treaty ally of the United States, consistently supported the US stance that “all options are on the table” in dealing with North Korea.
On September 11, the UN Security Council unanimously stepped up sanctions against North Korea over its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, imposing a ban on the isolated nation’s textile exports and capping imports of crude oil.
North Korea fired a missile on Friday that flew over Hokkaido in northern Japan and landed far out into the Pacific Ocean, according to Japanese and South Korean officials, further ratcheting up tensions in the region.
Abe said diplomatic attempts to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear aspirations have failed over two decades.
“Dialogue for the purpose of having dialogue is meaningless,” Abe said at the New York Stock Exchange.
In their roughly 15 minute-long meeting on the margins of the annual general debate, both Abe and Guterres reiterated the importance of all UN members fully implementing the latest Security Council resolution on North Korea, the official said.
The resolution, adopted in response to the North’s September 3 nuclear test, places restrictions on its supply of oil and petroleum products and targets its sources of foreign currency.
Abe told Guterres that North Korea’s abduction of Japanese nationals is the most important challenge for his administration, and Guterres expressed solidarity with Japan over the issue, the official said.
Abe also said he hopes Guterres will pay a visit to Japan soon.