The US chaired a special meeting at the UN, warning that failure to curb North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs could lead to 'catastrophic consequences,'

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took aim at the UN Security Council for not fully enforcing sanctions against North Korea.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took aim at the UN Security Council for not fully enforcing sanctions against North Korea.

The United States on Friday chaired a special UN Security Council (UNSC) meeting on the North Korean nuclear threat, piling pressure on China to act while warning it was keeping military options on the table.

The meeting of the council, chaired by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, exposed old divisions between the United States and China on how to deal with North Korea. China wants talks first and action later, while the United States wants North Korea to curtail its nuclear program before such talks start.

Here's what the major powers said about the issue:

United States

Tillerson took aim at the UNSC for not fully enforcing sanctions against North Korea, saying if the body had acted, tensions over its nuclear program might not have escalated.

"Had this body fully enforced and stood behind resolutions enacted in the past, vigorously enforcing sanctions with full compliance, perhaps we would not have found ourselves confronted with the high level of tension we face today," he told the 15-member council at the end of the meeting.

"We will not negotiate our way back to the negotiating table with North Korea, we will not reward their violations of past resolutions, we will not reward their bad behaviour with talks," he added.

He also said the threat of an attack by Pyongyang against Japan and South Korea is real and urged the UNSC to act "before North Korea does."

Tillerson called on the international community to fully implement UN sanctions and to suspend or downgrade diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.

"Failing to act now on the most pressing security issue in the world may bring catastrophic consequences," Tillerson told the council. ​

China

China warned that the situation with North Korea was at a critical point and that dialogue and negotiations were the only way to end tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

"China is not a focal point of the problem on the peninsula and the key to solving the nuclear issue on the peninsula does not lie in the hands of the Chinese side," Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.

Wang warned "the use of force does not solve differences and will only lead to bigger disasters."

Wang said that China is not a party directly involved in the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, nor does it hold the key to solving the issue.

However, China has displayed a responsible attitude for the peace of the peninsula and the stability of the region, and made great contributions in pushing forward the negotiations, he said.

Russia

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told the council that North Korea was "conducting itself in an inappropriate way" but warned that the use of force would be "completely unacceptable."

"The combative rhetoric coupled with reckless muscle-flexing has led to a situation where the whole world seriously is now wondering whether there's going to be a war or not," he told the council.

"One ill thought out or misinterpreted step could lead to the most frightening and lamentable consequences."

Japan

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told the council that to bring North Korea back to the table, the international community "must send a strong message that provocation comes at a high price."

"There is no doubt that dialogue is necessary ... however under the current situation where North Korea continues to advance its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, meaningful dialogue is clearly not possible," he said.

Britain

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called on Russia and China to use their influence to restrain North Korea.

"There is a vital role for China and Russia, both of whom are neighbours of North Korea with influence on Pyongyang, and as permanent members of this council, a special responsibility they have for preserving international peace and security," Johnson was quoted as saying.

"The UK calls on Russia and China, and other member states, to use whatever influence they possess to restrain North Korea and guide its leaders towards a peaceful settlement."

Source: TRT World