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Putin says sanctions, pressure alone won’t resolve crisis
TOKYO, Sept 6, (Agencies): Japan Wednesday again upgraded its estimated size of North Korea’s latest nuclear test to a yield of around 160 kilotons — more than ten times the size of the Hiroshima bomb. This marked Tokyo’s second revision higher after previously giving estimates of 70 and 120 kilotons. Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters that his ministry’s upward revision to 160 kilotons was based on a revised magnitude by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO).
“This is far more powerful than their nuclear tests in the past,” Onodera told reporters. The US bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945 carried a yield of 15 kilotons. Japan’s latest estimate far exceeded the yield of between 50 and 100 kilotons indicated by UN political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman at the UN Security Council. Early Wednesday, Onodera held telephone talks with US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and both agreed to step up “visible pressure” on North Korea, the ministry in Tokyo said.
“North Korea’s nuclear and missile development is at a new stage of grave and imminent threats,” Onodera told Mattis, the ministry said, adding that his US counterpart shared the view. Pyongyang’s Sunday test of what it described as a hydrogen bomb designed for a long-range missile triggered global alarm and has divided the international community as it scrambles for a response. US Ambassador Nikki Haley told the UN Security Council that Washington would present a new sanctions resolution to be negotiated in the coming days, but Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday rejected US calls for more sanctions as “useless”.
Putin’s comments appeared to have widened a split among major powers over how to rein in Pyongyang, pitting Moscow and Beijing against Washington and its allies. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to press Putin for his support over the North Korea’s provocation, when the two leaders hold talks in the Russian Far East city of Vladivostok on Thursday. “We have to make North Korea change its current policy and understand that there is no bright future if North Korea continues the present policy,” Abe told reporters ahead of his departure. Abe, who will separately hold talks with South Korea’s leader Moon Jae- In in Vladivostok, said he wants to send a message to the North from his two talks with Putin and Moon.
US President Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday that he would allow Japan and South Korea to buy more “highly sophisticated” US military equipment. Pressed on this during a regular news conference, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga declined to comment on the specific proposal, saying only that Tokyo would continue to purchase necessary equipment from the US and other countries. Meanwhile, resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis is impossible with sanctions and pressure alone, Putin said on Wednesday after meeting his South Korean counterpart, adding that the impact of cutting oil would be worrying.
Putin met South Korea’s Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of an economic summit in the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok amid mounting international concern that their neighbor plans more weapons tests, possibly a longrange missile launch before a weekend anniversary. Putin denounced North Korea’s sixth and largest nuclear bomb test on Sunday, saying Russia did not recognize its nuclear status. “Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear program is a crude violation of UN Security Council resolutions, undermines the non-proliferation regime and creates a threat to the security of northeastern Asia,” Putin said at a news conference. “At the same time, it is clear that it is impossible to resolve the problem of the Korean peninsula only by sanctions and pressure,” he said.
No headway could be made without political and diplomatic tools, Putin said, later telling the TASS news agency that Russian and North Korean delegations might meet at the Vladivostok forum. Moon, who took office this year advocating a policy of pursuing engagement with North Korea, has come under increasing pressure to take a harder line. He has asked the United Nations to consider tough new sanctions after North Korea’s latest nuclear test.
Diplomats say the UN Security Council could consider banning North Korean textile exports, barring its airline or stopping supplies of oil to the government and military. Other measures could include preventing North Koreans from working abroad and putting top officials on a blacklist aimed at imposing asset freezes and travel bans. “I ask Russia to actively cooperate as this time it is inevitable that North Korea’s oil supply should be cut at the least,” Moon told Putin, according to a readout from a South Korean official.
Putin said North Korea would not give up its nuclear program no matter how tough the sanctions. “We too, are against North Korea developing its nuclear capabilities and condemn it, but it is worrying cutting the oil pipeline will harm the regular people, like in hospitals,” Putin said, according to the South Korean presidential official.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to defend its South Korean ally, warning once more that any North Korean threat would trigger an “overwhelming” response, the Pentagon said Wednesday. In a conversation with South Korea’s Defense Minister Song Young- Moo Tuesday to address North Korea’s latest and most powerful nuclear test to date, Mattis said the United States “remains ironclad in its commitment to the defense of” South Korea.
“He further emphasized that any threat to the United States, its territories, or its allies will be met with a massive, effective, and overwhelming military response,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement. Mattis’ warning echoed comments he made on Sunday, in which he stressed that the United States was not “looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea,” before warning: “We have many options to do so.” White’s statement said Mattis and Song discussed ways to improve regional defense cooperation.
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