North Korea: Washington and Seoul pledge ‘swift punitive measures’ – Spencer Ackerman in New York, Ben Jacobs in Washington and agencies Thursday 27 April 2017 04.01 EDT


Senators who attended White House briefing say no military option was presented as US prioritises sanctions and strongarm diplomacy

North Korea has accelerated its long-range missile development programme and is expected to further test its nuclear capabilities. Photograph: Wong Maye-E/AP

The US has signalled sanctions and diplomatic pressure are its priorities for dealing with North Korea as senators who attended a White House briefing said they had not been presented with “a specific military option”.

Tensions between the US and North Korea are already inflamed before an anticipated sixth nuclear test from Pyongyang, which has accelerated its long-range missile development programme.

A statement on Thursday from the South Korean president’s office said Seoul and Washington had agreed “to swiftly take punitive measures” against North Korea in the event of more provocation, following a telephone conversation between the US national security adviser, HR McMaster, and his South Korean counterpart, Kim Kwan-jin.

“The two sides pledged that in the event of additional strategic provocation by the North to swiftly take punitive measures, including a new UN security council resolution, that are unbearable for the North,” the statement said.

It followed Wedensday’s joint statement from the US secretary of state Rex Tillerson, secretary of defence James Mattis, and director of national intelligence Dan Coats, that said President Trump would pressure Pyongyang “by tightening economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic measures with our allies and regional partners” – an approach adopted by the past three US administrations.

It also said past efforts had failed to stop the advance of Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes.

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