Mattis: North Korea short of posing imminent missile threat

Japan expands sanctions aimed at N Korea

Mattis: North Korea short of posing imminent missile threat

He said: "The President has been very clear, militarily, we are going to be prepared should something go wrong and our military is prepared".

South Korea's vice foreign minister says North Korea is "in the final stages of nuclear weaponization" and is urging the global community to grasp the urgency of the threat this poses and find ways to halt its nuclear program.

Tillerson's remarks were a retreat from his position earlier this week when he offered to begin direct talks with North Korea without preconditions, backing away from a key U.S. demand that Pyongyang must first accept that giving up its nuclear arsenal would be part of any negotiations. "When we're ready to have conversations. dialogues, that will be up to the president and secretary of state". The United States, South Korea and Japan held joint military exercises this week aimed at pressuring North Korea to abandon its missile testing.

Tillerson's remarks were a retreat from his position earlier this week when he offered to begin direct talks with North Korea without preconditions.

China's deputy United Nations ambassador is pushing back against US insistence that the Asian country holds the key to resolving North Korea's escalating nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

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U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (front) addresses a United Nations Security Council meeting on the situation on the Korean Peninsula at the UN headquarters in NY, on December 15, 2017.

Nebenzia also criticized unilateral sanctions against the North, which the USA has imposed, saying they hamper a political settlement, damage third parties, and hurt the civilian population.

US President Donald Trump wants China, North Korea's main ally and trading partner, to impose an oil embargo on Pyongyang, over and above Beijing's adherence to United Nations sanctions.

Ja took a swipe at the United States which he said was "terrified by the incredible might of our republic" and reaffirmed Pyongyang's view that nuclear weapons were needed for self-defense.

Tillerson also dismissed concerns that United Nations sanctions are having an impact on North Korea's humanitarian crisis, saying Pyongyang "hypocritically spends billions" on military programs "while its own people suffer great poverty".

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He retorted that North Koreans aren't working in Russian Federation "in slave-like conditions" but under an agreement with Pyongyang "that guarantees their rights".

But it renewed tests in November when it fired a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-15, which flew higher and further than previous tests.

Instead of responding, the ambassador said the council has adopted 11 sanctions resolutions against North Korea.

The UN's political affairs chief, Jeffrey Feltman, returned at the weekend from talks in Pyongyang - the first visit to the North by a high-ranking UN official since 2011. He said any lull in missile tests did not mean that North Korea was sitting idly.

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