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Trump to meet security advisers over ‘hostile’ N. Korea test

Published: Updated:

US President Donald Trump will convene his national security team on Sunday and weigh possibly drastic economic sanctions against North Korea after Pyongyang test-fired what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb able to fit atop a missile.

“The national security team is monitoring this closely,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “The president and his national security team will have a meeting to discuss further later today.”

North Korea’s “words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States,” Trump said on Twitter in his first reaction after Pyongyang conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sunday.

“North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success,” Trump said in a second tweet.

Trump also rebuked South Korea on Twitter, saying “their talk of appeasement with North Korea won’t work, they (North Korea) only understand one thing.”

Other world leaders joined in the denunciation. China and Russia sharply condemned it, South Korean President Moon Jae-In called for the “strongest punishment,” and Britain said China should step up economic pressure on the North.

Economic sanctions

In Washington, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he was preparing a package of economic sanctions to do that -- measures “that would go as far as cutting off all trade and other business” with the North.

“I’m going to draft a sanctions package and send it to the president for his strong consideration so anybody (who) wants to do trade or business with them will be prevented from doing trade or business with us,” Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday.”

But he also said Trump had made it clear that “he will consider everything” and “look at all our options.”

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressed anger and regret, calling it an “absurd” mistake that will only lead to further isolation of the impoverished North.

“North Korea has committed an absurd strategic mistake that will further accelerate its isolation from the international community through its repeated provocations, such as launching intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and staging a nuclear test that not only heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula but also greatly undermined global peace,” the president said at the start of a National Security Council meeting held earlier in the day.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he and US President Donald Trump agreed on Sunday that the international community must step up its response to North Korea after Pyongyang announced it had tested a hydrogen bomb.

Abe said he had agreed separately with Russian President Vladimir Putin to cooperate on North Korea.

“President Trump and I shared the view that we cannot overlook North Korea's reckless act and that the international community must show its resolve by applying stronger pressure than had so far been used”, Abe told reporters after the call.

It was their second phone call of the day and their fourth since North Korea fired a missile over Japan on Tuesday.

Abe said he and Putin agreed that “North Korea’s reckless act is a serious threat” and that they would maintain close contact on the issue.

He noted that he and the Russian leader are scheduled to meet this week on the sidelines of a gathering in Vladivostok.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the United Nations Security Council should urgently look at imposing new sanctions on North Korea and speed up implementation of existing ones.

“This latest action by North Korea is reckless and poses an unacceptable further threat to the international community,” May said in an emailed statement.

“I discussed the serious and grave threat these dangerous and illegal actions present with President Abe in Japan this week and reiterate the call we jointly made for tougher action, including increasing the pace of implementation of existing sanctions and looking urgently in the UN Security Council at new measures.”

Russia struck a cautious tone.

“In the emerging conditions it is absolutely essential to keep cool, refrain from any actions that could lead to a further escalation of tensions,” Russia’s foreign ministry said, adding that North Korea risked “serious consequences”.

Later on Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in China where they agreed to “appropriately deal with” the crisis, Chinese state news agency Xinhua said.

“The two leaders agreed to stick to the goal of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and keep close communication and coordination to deal with the new situation,” Xinhua said.

Earlier, China urged North Korea to stop “wrong” actions and said it would fully enforce UN resolutions on the country.

As North Korea’s most important trading partner, the position of China - a permanent member of the UN Security Council - will be closely watched. A Japanese government source said there would be pressure on Beijing to impose an oil embargo.

“They will probably act eventually but ... it is possible that will not be before their October (party) convention,” the source said. “Russia does not have real influence on North Korea. It’s China that matters.”

‘New dimension’

The office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel said North Korea’s provocations have “reached a new dimension”.

Merkel spoke on the phone on Sunday with French president Emmanuel Macron.

Her office said both leaders “condemn North Korea’s new nuclear tests in the sharpest possible terms” and that “the latest provocation by the rulers in Pyongyang has reached a new dimension.”

Macron’s office said he, Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni agreed on the need for a “strong international reaction” against North Korea, including new sanctions from the European Union.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called the test “reckless” in a statement and said “all options are on the table.”

Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said in a statement that North Korea must immediately abandon its nuclear and missile development program.

He also urged the North Koreans to stop going down the path of increasing self-isolation. Alfano pledged that Italy would do its part to at achieve a “firm and cohesive response” by the international community to North Korea’s latest challenge.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief said the test represented a “major provocation” and “a grave threat to regional and international security.”

Federica Mogherini also said in a statement that Pyongyang “must abandon its nuclear, weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner and immediately cease all related activities.”

Mogherini said she will meet on Monday with Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to discuss North Korea.

NATO’s secretary-general strongly condemned North Korea’s nuclear test, calling it “yet another flagrant violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions.”

Jens Stoltenberg also said in a statement that “NATO is concerned by Pyongyang’s destabilizing pattern of behavior, which poses a threat to regional and international security.”

He called on North Korea to “immediately cease all existing nuclear and ballistic missile activities in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner, and re-engage in dialogue with the international community.”

The head of the UN atomic energy agency said the latest test of a nuclear weapon by North Korea is of “grave concern.” He urgecd Pyongyang to heed UN demands to stop such testing and mothball its nuclear program.

Yukiya Amano said the International Atomic Energy Agency “continues to closely follow developments.” But while the IAEA is policing Iran’s nuclear program, its abilities to monitor the North’s program are limited.

Its inspectors have been shut out of the country since 2002, and North Korea unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty a year later.