SOUTH KOREA provocatively rehearsed cruise-missile strikes on the North using live weapons yesterday as the US accused China and Russia of being soft on sanctions.
In a joint exercise with US forces, the South test-fired a missile it claimed it can hit any part of the North and destroy hardened bunkers.
On Monday, the UN security council unanimously passed a greatly watered-down resolution placing limited new sanctions on Pyongyang for its recent nuclear bomb and ballistic missile tests.
The following day, US President Donald Trump said: “It’s just another very small step — not a big deal. But those sanctions are nothing compared to what ultimately will have to happen.”
And US officials showed Congress members what they claimed were satellite images of North Korean freighters August’s security council sanctions blocking coal exports.
The US alleged that a ship registered in the Caribbean had sailed with its radio transponder turned off to avoid detection, stopping in the Russian port of Vladivostok before heading to China, which accounts for 90 per cent of North Korea’s external trade.
US Assistant Secretary of State Susan Thornton said that if Russia and China don’t enforce the sanctions, “we will use the tools we have at our disposal.”
However, international calls for a return to talks — as repeatedly stressed by China and Russia — grew louder.
On Tuesday, former US president Jimmy Carter urged “respect” in dealing with North Korea.
“What they want is a firm treaty guaranteeing North Korea that the US will not attack them,” he said. “But the United States has refused to do that.”
“Until we’re willing to talk to them and treat them with respect as human beings then I don’t think we’ll make any progress.”
Yesterday, Japanese MP Antonio Inoki, a former wrestler who returned from his latest of 32 sport diplomacy trips to Pyongyang this week, urged Tokyo to take a neutral, mediating stance in the stand-off.
The athlete, who once fought Muhammad Ali, said: “I would like to see Japan pursue its own diplomacy and mediate so they will lower their fists.”