North Korea tensions: All the latest updates


Here are all the latest developments since the latest “toughest” UN sanctions imposed on North Korea on August 4:

  • North Korea has fired a ballistic missile from the capital Pyongyang that has flown northern Japan.
  • Yoshihide Sug, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, said the projectile was launched at 6:57am local time on Friday (21:57 GMT Thursday) and flew over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido before falling into the Pacific Ocean – 2,000km east of Cape Erimo.
  • It splashed down at 7:16am local time (22:16 GMT).
  • “Japan protests the latest launch in the strongest terms and will take appropriate and timely action at the United Nations and elsewhere, staying in close contact with the United States and South Korea,” Suga said.
  • South Korea’s defence ministry said the missile travelled about 3,700km and reached a maximum altitude of 770km – both higher and further than previous tests.
  • The ministry said the South’s military conducted a live-fire ballistic missile drill in response to the North’s launch.

North Korea threatens US, Japan over UN sanctions

  • North Korea threatened to sink Japan and reduce the US to “ashes and darkness” for leading the latest UN Security Council sanctions imposed on the country.
  • Reacting to the UN Security Council vote, North Korea said the US ought to “be beaten to death” for spearheading the penalties.

N Korea: US will ‘suffer greatest pain’ over sanctions

  • North Korea has said the US will “suffer the greatest pain” over its role in bringing forth the latest sanctions on Pyongyang.
  • “The forthcoming measures … will make the US suffer the greatest pain it ever experienced in its history,” North Korea’s Ambassador to the UN Han Tae Song said on Tuesday.
  • On Wednesday, Pyongyang also called the sanctions a “heinous provocation aimed at depriving the DPRK of its legitimate right for self-defence and completely suffocating its state and people through full-scale economic blockade,” according to a statement from the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). DPRK stands for North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
  • The statement also said that the sanctions “verify that the road [North Korea] chose to go down was absolutely right and to strengthen its resolve to follow this road at a faster pace without the slightest diversion until this right to finish is over”.

Trump: Fresh sanctions on N Korea only ‘a very small step’

  • US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday the latest UN sanctions on North Korea were only a very small step and nothing compared to what would have to happen to deal with the country’s nuclear programme.
  • “We think it’s just another very small step, not a big deal,” Trump told reporters at the start of a meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
  • “I don’t know if it has any impact, but certainly it was nice to get a 15-to-nothing vote, but those sanctions are nothing compared to what ultimately will have to happen,” said Trump, who has vowed not to allow North Korea to develop a nuclear missile capable of hitting the United States.

S Korea welcomes new UNSC sanctions on North

  • South Korea has welcomed the UN Security Council’s move to impose new sanctions on its neighbour North Korea, describing it as a “strict warning from the international community”.
  • The country’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that South Korea will continue to strengthen cooperation with the international community to ensure that the resolutions “are thoroughly implemented”.
  • “North Korea should accept the strict warning from the international community that continued provocations only deepen the diplomatic isolation and economic pressure,” the ministry said.

UN Security Council slaps new sanctions on North Korea

  • The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a US-drafted resolution imposing new sanctions on North Korea following its sixth and largest nuclear test.
  • With backing from China and Russia, the council voted 15-0 on Monday to slap a ban on textile exports and restrict shipments of oil products to North Korea.
  • The resolution is a watered-down version of the original US proposal.

UN experts: N Korea recently exported $270m illegally

  • UN experts have said North Korea illegally exported coal, iron and other commodities worth at least $270 million to China and other countries including India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka during a six-month period ending in August in violation of UN sanctions.
  • The report, released on Saturday by the experts monitoring sanctions, said Kim Jong-un’s government continues to flout sanctions on commodities, an arms embargo and shipping and financial restrictions.

US formally requests UN vote on North Korea sanctions

  • The US has formally requested a UN Security Council vote on Monday on the toughest sanctions yet against North Korea despite resistance from China and Russia, as Pyongyang’s state media calls for a nuclear arms buildup.
  • Washington has presented a draft UN resolution calling for an oil embargo on North Korea, an assets freeze on leader Kim Jong-un, a ban on textile exports and an end to payments of North Korean guest workers.
  • Diplomatic sources said Russia and China opposed the measures as a whole, except for the ban on textiles, during a meeting on Friday of experts from the 15 Security Council members.

North Korea: ‘More gift packages’ coming for the US

  • North Korea has threatened to send “more gift packages” to the United States, days after testing the biggest nuclear weapon it has ever detonated.
  • Han Tae-song, ambassador of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to the United Nations in Geneva, addressed the UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament on Tuesday after his country carried out its sixth nuclear test.
  • “The recent self-defence measures by my country, DPRK, are a gift package addressed to none other than the US,” Han said.
  • “The US will receive more gift packages from my country as long as it relies on reckless provocations and futile attempts to put pressure on the DPRK,” he added without elaborating.

Putin opposes military action against North Korea

  • Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has criticised US diplomacy in the crisis and renewed his call for talks, saying North Korea would not halt its missile testing programme until it felt secure.
  • “Russia condemns North Korea’s exercises; we consider that they are a provocation … [But] ramping up military hysteria will lead to nothing good. It could lead to a global catastrophe,” Putin said.

South Korea conducts live-fire naval drills

  • South Korea’s navy has conducted a live-fire exercise in waters off the country’s eastern coast as Seoul continued its displays of military capability following North Korea’s latest nuclear test.
  • Seoul’s defence ministry said that warships participated in drills aimed at retaliating against potential North Korean provocations.
  • Seoul says more naval drills are planned from Wednesday to Saturday in the country’s southern seas.

US calls for UN vote on fresh North Korea sanctions

  • The US ambassador to the United Nations has said North Korea’s leadership is “begging for war” as she called on the body’s Security Council to impose tougher measures against the country following its most powerful nuclear test to date.
  • At an emergency session in New York, the second in a week, Nikki Haley said Washington will circulate a new sanctions resolution this week, with a view of voting on it next Monday.
  • The US envoy urged the 15-member group to adopt the strongest possible measures to deter North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

S Korea to temporarily deploy four remaining THAAD launchers

  • South Korea said on Monday it will temporarily deploy four remaining launchers for a US THAAD missile defence system after the completion of an environmental assessment by the government.
  • Some construction would be carried out to deploy the four launchers at the site in Seongju, south of Seoul, the defence ministry said in a statement.
  • There are currently two launchers at the location, a former golf course. The ministry did not specify when the launchers would be moved onto the site.

UN Security Council sets second meeting on N Korea blast

  • The UN Security Council is holding its second emergency meeting in a week about North Korea on Monday after a powerful nuclear test explosion added another layer of urgency for diplomats wrestling with what to do about the North’s weapons programmes.
  • The emergency session comes six days after the council strongly condemned Pyongyang’s “outrageous” launch of a ballistic missile over Japan.
  • Requested by the US, Japan, France, Britain and South Korea, the Security Council meeting could bring additional condemnation and discussion of other potential steps.

Australia calls on China to influence N Korea

  • Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called on China to bring North Korea to its “senses” following its nuclear test on Sunday.
  • He said China will be enforcing UN economic sanctions against North Korea but “there will be more that needs to be done given the affront that North Korea has shown to China” by testing its sixth nuclear device on Sunday.
  • Turnbull told reporters in Canberra that the risk of war breaking out on the Korean Peninsula is at its highest in over 60 years. He said China, as the North’s closest ally and commercial partner, had the economic leverage to and therefore the responsibility to influence North Korea.

Japan FM agrees with US on ‘close cooperation’ over N Korea

  • Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said he and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson agreed to cooperate closely in order to exert pressure on North Korea through the United Nations.
  • “We agreed on close cooperation between Japan and the United States to exert maximum pressure on North Korea and the UN, including the adoption of Security Council resolutions,” Kono told reporters after a phone call with Tillerson.

S Korea to announce approval of environment report for Thaad system

  • South Korea’s environment ministry will announce on Monday its approval of an environmental assessment report for the deployment of a US anti-missile defence system in the country, a ministry official told Reuters news agency.
  • South Korea said in June that it will hold off installing remaining components of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) until it completes an assessment of the system’s impact on the environment.
  • The ministry will hold a briefing on the decision at 06:30 GMT on Monday, the official said.

Trump reaffirms commitment to defend allies in call with Abe

  • US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned in a phone call North Korea’s “continued destabilising and provocative actions,” the White House said.
  • Trump also reaffirmed that Washington would defend itself and its allies “using the full range of diplomatic, conventional, and nuclear capabilities at [its] disposal”.

S Korea simulates attack on North’s nuclear test site

  • South Korea has carried out a missile drill meant to “strongly warn” North Korea over its sixth nuclear test, military officials said.
  • According to state news agency Yonhap, “the training came in response to the North’s sixth nuclear test … and involved the country’s Hyunmoo ballistic missile and the F-15K fighter jets”.
  • The military added that the target of the exercise was set considering the distance to where the North’s test site was and the drill was aimed at practicing precision strikes and cutting off reinforcements.
  • The drill was carried out by only the Korean military, but more are being prepared with the US forces in South Korea, a military statement said.

US: Threats ‘will be met with massive military response’ 

  • US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said any threat to the US or its allies will be met with a “massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming”.
  • Mattis said Washington was not looking for the “total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea, but … [it has] many options to do so”.

UN Security Council to meet Monday on N Korea nuclear test

  • The United Nations Security Council will meet at 14:00 GMT on Monday to discuss North Korea’s nuclear test.
  • The meeting comes at the request of the US, Japan, Britain, France and South Korea, according to the US mission to the UN.

Trump: US may stop trade with countries doing business with N Korea

  • In a tweet on Sunday, US President Donald Trump said the US is “considering … stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea”.
  • Such a move could have a big impact on China, a key provider of aid and trade to the North, and which is seen as the only country holding any real influence over its truculent neighbour.

The United States is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea.

UN chief: Nuclear test is ‘profoundly destabilising’

  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned North Korea’s nuclear test, saying it is “profoundly destabilising for regional security”.
  • He also called on the country’s leadership to cease such acts, his spokesman said in a statement.

World leaders unite in condemnation of North Korea

  • President Donald Trump has reacted to what he called “a major nuclear test” by North Korea, branding the North “a rogue nation” whose “words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous” to the United States.
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on Sunday to “appropriately deal with” the latest nuclear test by North Korea, state news agency Xinhua said.
  • Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary-general, called on North Korea in a statement 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”.
  • South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in vowed to push for the most powerful sanctions yet at the UN Security Council against North Korea to completely isolate it.
  • Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, said Pyongyang’s “nuclear and missile development programmes pose a new level of a grave and immediate threat” and “seriously undermines the peace and security of the region”.

TIMELINE: North’s nuclear tests

North Korea confirms sixth nuclear test

  • Pyongyang has confirmed its sixth nuclear test after reports of tremors shaking the country.
  • The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the hydrogen bomb test on Sunday morning, ordered by leader Kim Jong-un, was a “perfect success”.
  • The trial at 12pm (03:30 GMT) was carried out to “examine and confirm the accuracy and credibility” of North Korea’s technology, KCNA said.

EXPLAINED: H-bomb vs atomic bomb

Tremors in North Korea raise fears of nuclear test

  • Two tremors struck North Korea on Sunday, prompting fears that Pyongyang may have conducted a nuclear test.
  • The website of the US Geological Survey said a first tremor of 6.3 magnitude had a depth of 23 kilometres.
  • The USGS had earlier reported a 5.2 magnitude and depth of zero kilometres.

Trump, Abe discuss ‘growing threat’ from North Korea

  • US President Donald Trump spoke with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan to discuss the “growing threat” posed by North Korea, which carried out two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July.
  • “The two leaders reaffirmed the importance of close cooperation between the United States, Japan, and South Korea in the face of the growing threat from North Korea,” a White House readout of the call said.
  • It did not specify whether the two leaders spoke before or after Pyongyang claimed via its state news agency that it had developed a hydrogen bomb which can be loaded into the new missile.

North Korea says it has a missile-ready hydrogen bomb

  • North Korea has said it has developed a more advanced nuclear weapon that has “great destructive power” and can be loaded onto a intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
  • The North’s official KCNA news agency on Sunday showed Kim Jong-un inspecting what it said was a hydrogen bomb that is to be loaded into a new ICBM.
  • There will be some skepticism about the claim from experts about Pyongyang’s assertion that it has mastered hydrogen technology.

Trump, Moon pledge strong diplomatic pressure on N Korea

  • US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in pledged to continue to apply strong diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea, the White House said in a statement.
  • The two leaders spoke by phone on Friday and also agreed on revising a bilateral missile treaty.
  • The treaty currently caps the development of South Korea’s ballistic missiles to a range of 800km and a payload weight of 500kg.

UN condemns missile tests 

  • The UN Security Council unanimously condemned North Korea’s firing of a ballistic missile over Japan as an “outrageous” threat and demanded that the country not launch any more missiles and abandon all nuclear weapons and programmes.
  • In a statement, the Security Council said it was of “vital importance” that North Korea take immediate, concrete actions to reduce tensions and called on all states to implement UN sanctions on North Korea.

Hwasong-12 flies over Japan

  • North Korea has fired a ballistic missile that flew over Japan before plunging into the northern Pacific Ocean, in a step termed by the Japanese prime minister as a “grave threat”.
  • The launch appeared to be the first to cross over Japan since 2009 and comes amid an ongoing annual military drill being carried out between the United States and its close ally in the region, South Korea.

Missile launch fails

  • Three North Korea short range ballistic missiles failed on Saturday, a temporary blow to Pyongyang’s rapid nuclear and missile expansion, US military officials said.
  • The US Pacific Command said in a statement that two of North Korea’s missiles failed in flight after an unspecified distance, and another appeared to have exploded immediately.
  • It added that the missile posed no threat to the US territory of Guam, towards which North Korea had previously warned it would fire missiles.

N Korea vows ‘merciless retaliation’ over drills

  • North Korea on Tuesday greeted the start of annual US-South Korean military drills with fiery threats, threatening “merciless retaliation” for exercises the country claims are an invasion rehearsal.
  • North Korea’s military routinely responds to US-South Korean exercises.
  • Tuesday’s threat came as top US generals, including Harry Harris, the commander of US forces in the Pacific, visited South Korea.

US, S Korea drills begin

  • US and South Korean troops have begun military drills amid heated warnings by North Korea that the exercises will worsen tensions in the region.
  • The Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills, which began on Monday, are largely computer-simulated war games.
  • The exercise brings together as many as 50,000 South Korean soldiers and approximately 17,500 US service members for a simulation of war on the Korean Peninsula.

N Korea slams US-South drills

  • North Korea has warned the US will be “pouring gasoline on fire” by conducting annual war games with South Korea amid heightened tensions between North Korea and the US.
  • The Ulchi Freedom Guardian military exercises involving thousands of American and South Korean troops are to begin on Monday. North Korea views the drills as a highly provocative rehearsal for an invasion.

N Korea ‘fails’ South’s Moon

  • North Korea’s state media gave the South’s President Moon Jae-in a “fail” grade on Friday for his first 100 days in office, dismissing his proffered olive branches as “hypocrisy”.
  • Moon, elected to replace impeached President Park Geun-hye, came into office in May and has since had to deal with tensions over North Korea’s missile and nuclear programmes.

Moon: There will not be war

  • South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has ruled out a “war again on the Korean Peninsula” and is considering sending a special envoy to North Korea for talks if Pyongyang stops its missile and nuclear tests.
  • Moon’s comments on Thursday, marking his 100 days in office, come amid increased tensions between the United States and North Korea following Pyongyang’s warning that it might send missiles into waters near the US territory of Guam.

UN: Time to ‘dial down rhetoric’

  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said it was time to “dial down rhetoric and dial up diplomacy” on North Korea, offering to help broker talks with the parties involved in the dispute.
  • “My good offices are always available – and I conveyed this message yesterday to the representatives of the six-party talks,” Guterres said on Wednesday amid growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula since Pyongyang conducted ballistic missile tests last month.
  • “The solution to this crisis must be political. The potential consequences of military action are too horrific to even contemplate.”

N Korea holds fire on Guam

  • Kim Jong-un ordered the army to be ready to launch should he make the decision for military action.
  • Kim said the US should make the right choice “in order to defuse the tensions and prevent the dangerous military conflict on the Korean Peninsula”.
  • The visit to the Korean People’s Army Strategic Force marks Kim’s first public appearance in about two weeks.

China calls for de-escalation 

  • China has warned the United States and North Korea to “hit the brakes” on threats and actions, and work towards a peaceful resolution of their dispute.
  • Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday, said the two countries should work together and contain tensions.
  • Russia and China should not permit any party to “stir up an incident on their doorstep”, he said.

‘Nothing imminent’ in standoff with N Korea

  • CIA director Mike Pompeo has offered assurances there is “nothing imminent” in the US standoff with nuclear-armed North Korea but said he would not be surprised if Pyongyang conducts another missile test.
  • Asked how worried people should be, Pompeo told Fox News on Sunday: “There’s nothing imminent today. But make no mistake about it. The increased chance that there will be a nuclear missile in Denver is a very serious threat.”

Pastor arrives in Canada

  • A Canadian pastor who was imprisoned for more than two years in North Korea has arrived back home.
  • Hyeon Lim, a 62-year-old South Korean-born Canadian citizen, was convicted and sentenced in 2015 for allegedly trying to use religion to destroy the North Korean system and helping US and South Korean authorities lure and abduct North Korean citizens.
  • Hyeon’s release came nearly two months after US college student Otto Warmbier died shortly after he was released from North Korea in a coma.
  • Warmbier had been sentenced to 15 years of hard labour in March 2016 after being accused of stealing a propaganda poster.

China urges Trump to change rhetoric

  • Chinese leader Xi Jinping urged US President Donald Trump on Saturday to avoid rhetoric that could inflame tensions with North Korea as an escalating war of words raised global alarm.
  • Xi made the plea in a phone call hours after Trump escalated his warnings to North Korea, saying it would “truly regret” taking hostile action against the  US .
  • China’s foreign ministry said Xi urged Trump to avoid “words and deeds” that would “exacerbate” the already tense situation, exercise restraint, and seek a political settlement.

Beijing’s stance on North Korea

  • A Chinese state-run newspaper has suggested Beijing would “stay neutral” if North Korea attacks first in a conflict with the United States, despite a mutual defence pact between the Asian allies.
  • However, it added: “If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.”

‘Tension could lead to catastrophe’

  • Any new military conflict with North Korea would likely escalate to the use of nuclear weapons, bringing catastrophic casualties not seen since World War II, defence officials and analysts say.
  • North Korea upped the ante by saying it would complete plans by mid-August to fire four intermediate-range missiles over Japan to land near the US Pacific.

Trump escalates threats

  • President Donald Trump warned Kim Jong-un’s government to “get their act together” or face extraordinary “trouble”, and suggested his earlier threat to unleash “fire and fury” on  North Korea  was too mild.
  • “Maybe that statement wasn’t tough enough,” Trump said, in the latest US salvo in an escalating exchange of threats between the nuclear-armed nations.

Guam governor warns North Korea 

  • “Any type of attack will not be successful but at the same time an attack on Guam will be considered an attack on the United States and will be met with an overwhelming force,” Guam’s Governor Eddie Calvo told Al Jazeera.
  • The people of Guam woke up on Thursday to another pointed threat from Pyongyang, which vowed to complete a plan to attack waters near the island by mid-August.

Pentagon warns against conflict initiation

US Defence Secretary James Mattis has responded to North Korea’s threat of targeting the US Pacific territory of Guam with missiles, saying Pyongyang’s move would lead to “the end of its regime and the destruction of its people”.

Mattis said in a statement on Wednesday that North Korea “would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates”.

“The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons,” he said, using the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Earlier on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Korean People’s Army said in a statement carried by North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency that the Guam attack plan would be “put into practice in a multi-current and consecutive way any moment” after leader Kim Jong-un made a decision.

‘Threat of new nuclear attack growing’

  • The fear of another nuclear bomb attack is growing on the 72nd anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, the city’s mayor said, apparently referring to the North Korean nuclear threat in the region.
  • Tomihisa Taue urged nuclear states to abandon such weapons and criticised Japan’s government for not taking part in the global efforts towards a nuclear ban.
  • Taue also criticised Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government for what he said were empty promises about working to achieve a nuclear-free world.

N Korea threatens missile attack on Guam

  • “North Korea had best not make any more threats to the United States,” said a stern-looking Trump, seated with his arms crossed and with his wife beside him, at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
  • North Korea said it is “carefully examining” a plan to attack the US Pacific territory of Guam with missiles, just hours after Trump’s comments.
  • A spokesman for the Korean People’s Army, in a statement carried by North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency, said the attack plan will be “put into practice in a multi-current and consecutive way any moment” once leader Kim Jong-un makes a decision.
  • In another statement, quoting a different military spokesman, North Korea also said it could carry out a pre-emptive operation if the US showed signs of provocation.

North Korea rejects sanctions

  • The sanctions passed at the weekend were a “violent violation of our sovereignty”, Pyongyang said in a statement carried by its official Korean Central News Agency, adding it would take “righteous action” in return.
  • North Korea said it would not negotiate over nuclear arms while threatened by the US.
  • China, a close ally of North Korea, also voted in favour of the sanctions.
  • Several Asian foreign ministers, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, are currently gathered in the Philippine capital, Manila, for an ASEAN regional summit.

UN sanctions 

  • The Security Council unanimously adopted the US-led resolution, which bans mineral and seafood exports worth more than $1bn.
  • The United States, China, Japan and South Korea have all welcomed the new UN sanctions.
  • Japan said it was time to exert more “effective pressure” on Pyongyang rather than to pursue dialogue.

US unveils new UN sanctions

  • The United States presented to the UN Security Council a draft resolution toughening sanctions on  North Korea , aiming to deprive Pyongyang of $1bn in export revenue, a council diplomat said.
  • The council is expected to vote on Saturday on the measures that include a ban on exports of coal, iron and iron ore, lead and lead ore, as well as seafood by the cash-starved state.
  • The US has been negotiating the measures with China, North Korea’s main trading partner and ally, since Pyongyang launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4.

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