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U.S. calls for global diplomatic effort to punish and sway North Korea

July 5, 2017 at 6:50 PM EDT
North Korea's Tuesday missile launch crossed the intercontinental threshold the U.S. had been hoping to prevent. At the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, the U.S. tried to rally the world to punish and isolate the regime. Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un insisted he will never negotiate away his missile and nuclear programs. Nick Schifrin reports on the American response so far.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: From North Korea today, new defiance. The communist regime’s leader, Kim Jong-un, insisted that he will never negotiate away his missile and nuclear programs. But the world’s highest diplomatic body held an emergency session on how to get the North to do just that.

Correspondent Nick Schifrin begins our coverage.

NICK SCHIFRIN: This afternoon in the U.N. Security Council, the U.S. tried to rally the world to punish and isolate North Korea.

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations: It is a dark day, because yesterday’s actions by North Korea made the world a more dangerous place.

NICK SCHIFRIN: U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said North Korea’s test of an intercontinental ballistic missile requires a global response.

NIKKI HALEY: They have not had any care for Russia or China in this. They have not listened to anything that you have said. They’re not going to listen to anything that you say. And so it’s time that we all stand together and say, we will not put up with this action.

NICK SCHIFRIN: Haley is trying to lead a diplomatic effort to change North Korean behavior. The U.S. needs Chinese and Russian help, but Beijing and Moscow have their own strategy.

VLADIMIR SAFRONKOV, Deputy UN Ambassador, Russia (through interpreter): We call for all interested states to act with restraint, rather than provocation and war-mongering.

LIU JIEYI, UN Ambassador, China (through interpreter): We call on all the concerned parties to exercise restraint, avoid provocative actions and belligerent rhetoric, and demonstrate the will for unconditional dialogue.

NICK SCHIFRIN: Tuesday’s missile launch crossed the intercontinental threshold the U.S. had been hoping to prevent. In science terms, the missile advance was an incremental, but U.S. officials tell the “NewsHour” it was in a new, previously unseen configuration. It was fired from a mobile launcher, had a reentry vehicle, and was two-stage, as seen on North Korean TV.

The immediate American response was its own launch. The U.S. and South Korean militaries fired tactical missiles today that can be rapidly deployed. And South Korea released a video of what an attack on North Korea would look like, blowing up North Korean missiles, and video game graphics of a South Korean jet bombing Pyongyang.

But, as of now, the focus is very much on diplomacy and increasing pressure on North Korea. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released a statement hours after the missile launch, saying any country that helps North Korea is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime, and that all countries that all countries must show North Korea there are consequences to their pursuit of nuclear weapons.

In a tweet this morning, President Trump expressed frustration that China hasn’t done more, writing: “So much for China working with us. But we had to give it a try.”

So, the administration is casting a wide net. Today, Mr. Trump talked with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi by phone. North Korea sells missile technology and receives remittances from Africa to Southeast Asia. To try and stop that income, today, the U.S. delivered a threat to China and others.

NIKKI HALEY: There are countries that are allowing, even encouraging, trade with North Korea, in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Such countries would also like to continue their trade arrangements with the United States. That’s not going to happen.

NICK SCHIFRIN: The U.S. military in South Korea says it is being — quote — “self-restrained.” That policy will remain until the diplomacy plays out.

For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Nick Schifrin.

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