North Korean Missile Tests Are Alarming UN, Trump’s Envoy Says

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(Bloomberg) -- Kelly Craft, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the Security Council is united in its alarm over repeated missile tests by North Korea.

“Each of us are very, very concerned about the series of 13 missile attacks, the ballistic missile launches,” she said Friday in a news conference to mark the U.S.’s turn this month in the rotation for council president. “That is something that we all agree upon and we are very focused upon.”

North Korea may be preparing to conduct engine tests at a long-range rocket launch site, stepping up pressure on President Donald Trump ahead of a year-end deadline it proclaimed for the U.S. to offer a better deal in nuclear disarmament talks.

A satellite image from Thursday shows activity at its Sohae Launch Facility, which leader Kim Jong Un once said he had dismantled in a concession to Trump. Tensions have been rising as the two nations revive old insults -- “Rocket Man” from Trump and “dotard” from North Korea -- while Pyongyang said Washington’s behavior will determine what “Christmas gift” the U.S. gets from Kim.

In a recent closed consultation on North Korea at the council, several diplomats expressed increased concern, with Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière of France suggesting the Korean peninsula may be the most volatile and dangerous issue that needs to be tackled by a united council. Craft said that during a lunch for council members hosted by Trump at the White House on Thursday, concerns about North Korea came up and that “everybody understands that this is a world issue.”

Human Rights Debate

Craft also criticized North Korea’s human rights record but stopped short of confirming whether the council will convene a meeting on that topic next week.

U.S. allies, including France, the U.K., Germany, and Belgium, want to hold such a meeting on Dec. 10 but it could spark tensions. North Korea’s ambassador to the UN, Kim Song, warned the council this week not to hold a human rights meeting, saying it would lead to “undermining rather than helping” to reduce tensions on the Korean peninsula.

The meeting would be considered a “serious provocation” and Pyongyang will “respond strongly,” he added.

“I have read the letter,” Craft said, when asked about the North Korean ambassador’s warning. “We care about human rights. I care about human rights. It is an issue that that our president cares about.”

While Trump and Kim have held three face-to-face meetings since June 2018 and lavished praise on each other over the past two years, they’ve achieved little beyond a vague promise to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” North Korea has continued to expand a nuclear weapons program that it sees as a vital deterrent against the threat of an American invasion.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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