United Nations, United States | AFP |
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday demanded that the world find a new way to halt the threat from North Korea after the long-sanctioned regime’s nuclear and missile tests.
Abe, addressing the UN General Assembly, said that calculations about North Korea needed to change after its latest actions including the state’s test of what it said was a miniaturized nuclear bomb for a warhead.
“There is no alternative but to say that the threat has now reached a dimension altogether different from what has transpired until now,” Abe said.
“The threat to the international community has become increasingly grave and all the more realistic. It demands a new means of addressing it, altogether different from what we applied until yesterday,” he said.
Abe did not spell out specific actions but said Japan would use its non-permanent seat on the Security Council to explore new options.
The right-leaning leader first rose to power with tough talk on North Korea and has made revision of Japan’s US-imposed pacifist constitution his signature issue.
But Japan has never fired a shot in anger since World War II and is constitutionally barred from offensive military operations.
Abe highlighted that Japan, the only nation to have suffered nuclear attack, was committed to the elimination of the ultra-destructive weapons.
Pointing to US President Barack Obama’s landmark visit to Hiroshima in May, Abe raised the specter of a North Korea willing to use nuclear weapons.
“This is a challenge posed to the conscience of humankind. Were we to overlook it, how would we justify it to our own consciences?” Abe said.
Long history of sanctions
China and the United States are in talks on drafting a new Security Council resolution to punish North Korea, although such measures have not stopped Pyongyang in the past.
North Korea is already one of the most impoverished and sanctioned countries on Earth, with a March resolution after a previous nuclear test ordering searches of all ships heading to the isolated country and restricting shipments of luxury products.
Kim Jong-Un’s regime says that it needs nuclear weapons to ensure its survival against arch-enemies the United States and Japan and wants recognition as a nuclear state.
China has been increasingly critical of North Korea but many analysts believe that a rising Beijing would prefer to put up with the troublesome regime rather than risk a united, US-allied Korea on its border.
While Obama has supported dialogue with US adversaries, his administration has voiced frustration with North Korea and advocated tough sanctions, with an aid-for-disarmament deal between the countries quickly falling apart in 2012.
Abe in his address also made a new pitch for a permanent seat on the Security Council, pointing out that Japan has historically been the top funder of the United Nations after the United States.
He renewed Japan’s commitments to aid, including international development assistance and financing for adaptation to climate change, saying the country had in recent decades given $334.5 billion.
“If we do not carry out the reform of the Security Council now, it will easily be put off for a decade or two,” Abe said.
A joint bid a decade ago by Japan alongside Brazil, Germany and India for permanent seats collapsed largely due to opposition from China, the only Asian country with veto power, which accused Tokyo of not sufficiently regretting World War II.