The United States has called on China and Russia to take “direct actions” aimed at reining in North Korea after it launched a second ballistic missile over Japan on September 15.
“China supplies North Korea with most of its oil. Russia is the largest employer of North Korean forced labor,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement.
“China and Russia must indicate their intolerance for these reckless missile launches by taking direct actions of their own.”
Tillerson’s statement came as the United Nations Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting on this latest missile launch, which U.S. and South Korean officials said flew far enough to reach the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, though it never actually threatened U.S. territory and fell into the Pacific Ocean after flying over Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido.
Seoul’s Defense Ministry said the missile traveled around 3,700 kilometers and reached a maximum altitude of 770 kilometers — flying higher and farther than any previous North Korean missile.
The Pentagon said it was an intermediate-range ballistic missile and there was no threat to North America or Guam.
In Japan, however, where the missile set off sirens and warning messages, “it put millions of Japanese into duck-and-cover,” said U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis after discussing the launch with his counterparts in South Korea and Japan.
The launch came a day after Pyongyang threatened to sink Japan and reduce the United States to “ashes and darkness” for sponsoring tough sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council earlier this week in response to its September 3 nuclear test.
North Korea previously launched a ballistic missile on August 29 which flew over Japan’s Hokkaido island and landed in the Pacific Ocean, the same flight path followed by the latest test.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters in Tokyo that the missile fell into the sea about 2,000 kilometers from Japan’s coast, and the government has detected no evidence of missile fragments falling on Japan.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the launch “outrageous” and urged international action “against North Korea’s dangerous, provocative acts that threaten the world’s peace.”
Tokyo and Washington called for the UN Security Council meeting, which was scheduled for 3 p.m. in New York on September 15.
The Security Council earlier this week unanimously tightened sanctions against Pyongyang, imposing a ban on the country’s textile exports and capping imports of crude oil, in the latest in a series of progressively harsher measures adopted since 2006.
The sanctions also called on Russia and China to stop providing new permits to North Korean laborers under a guest-workers program — a provision that the United States said would eventually end the program after existing permits expire, cutting off an estimated $500 million a year of Pyongyang’s revenue from earnings sent back home by the workers.
The United States in calling for further action by Beijing and Moscow after the missile launch appeared to be asking the two North Korean neighbors to go above and beyond what was agreed in the last round of sanctions, which was in response to what Pyongyang said was a hydrogen bomb test.
Tillerson called the previously approved sanctions “the floor, not the ceiling, of the actions we should take. We call on all nations to take new measures against the [Kim Jong Un] regime.”
Experts have said the bomb detonated underground by North Korea, because of the large earthquake and landslides it caused, showed signs of being many times more powerful than previously tested bombs.
The U.S. general who oversees American nuclear forces provided the first U.S. confirmation of that on September 14, saying that he “assumes” the bomb tested was a powerful hydrogen bomb.
“The sheer destruction and damage that you can create with a weapon that size is significantly of a concern,” said Air Force General John Hyten.