Led U.N. Security Council to discuss risk of North Korean 'provocation'

Elias Hubbard
December 10, 2019

The American action appeared aimed at muting global criticism of Pyongyang's human rights record in the hope of preserving a tenuous diplomatic opening between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, the authoritarian leader of North Korea. Tensions between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim have broken out into the open in recent days.

Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said during a visit to Sydney that Seoul expressed its "deep concerns" over the engine test and North Korea's recent ballistic missile launches into the sea, according to his office in Seoul.

Sources close to the Security Council said it agreed and scheduled a meeting for Wednesday.

The UN Security Council will meet on Wednesday (Dec 11), at the request of the United States (US), over missile launches by North Korea and the possibility of an " escalatory" provocation after Pyongyang conducted what it said was a key test at satellite launch site. The council plans to discuss them on Wednesday.

North Korea and the United States resumed working-level talks in October in Stockholm, but the North Korean delegation pronounced the meeting a failure.

The announcement came after months of frustration over the South's unwillingness to defy US-led sanctions and restart South Korean tours to the resort, which were suspended in 2008 after a North Korean guard fatally shot a South Korean tourist.

Kim and Trump have met three times since June 2018, their first meeting was held in Singapore.

Without support from the United States, European and other countries that wanted the U.N.'s most powerful body to discuss human rights in North Korea can't go ahead Tuesday because they are now one vote short of the minimum nine "yes" votes required, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because discussions were private. Kim said a meeting would increase tensions on the Korean peninsula, and the North would "respond strongly to the last".

North Korea on Monday accused US President Trump of "bluffing" and called him "an old man bereft of patience" as Pyongyang ramps up pressure on Washington over stalled nuclear talks.

The messages came after North Korea announced on Sunday that it had carried out a "very important test" at its missile-engine test site. This sparked wide speculation that the test involved a new engine for either a space launch vehicle or a long-range missile.

"We have nothing more to lose", he said.

"This naturally indicates that Trump is an old man bereft of patience", he said, adding: "From those words and expressions we can read how irritated he is now". He accused Mr. Trump of trying to buy time before the December 31 deadline set by Kim Jong-un for Washington to return to negotiations with concessions, including the lifting of sanctions.

The US State Department told NHK on Monday that it had asked the US mission to the United Nations to propose the meeting. Mr. Kim retorted that Mr. Trump was " a mentally deranged US dotard ".

In past months, North Korea launched a slew of short-range missiles and other weapons off its east coast into the sea.

Jeong didn't elaborate on what the engine test was for but urged North Korea to stop "acts that escalate military tensions".

North Korea's ambassador issued a statement Saturday saying that denuclearization - a key us demand - is off the negotiating table, and that his country doesn't need to have lengthy talks with the United States. Also, President Donald Trump has touted the North's moratorium on ICBM and nuclear tests as his major foreign policy achievement.

Another senior official said last week that what gift the USA receives for Christmas will depend entirely on Washington's actions.

On Monday, Kim Yong-chol, the North Korean official, warned that the United States should be ready to be "surprised". Rick Gladstone contributed reporting from NY.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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