NEW YORK (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday that countries need to unite to enforce sanctions and apply pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear and missile programs.
“Now is not the time for dialogue. Now is the time to apply pressure,” Abe told a gathering of investors at the New York Stock Exchange, remarks he later reiterated in an address to the annual United Nations General Assembly.
On Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump warned North Korea in his speech to the U.N. that the United States would “totally destroy” the country if threatened.
In contrast, Japan’s Asian rival China, and Russia, have called repeatedly for a return to international diplomacy and talks with North Korea to resolve the crisis over Pyongyang’s weapons programs.
“We can’t be satisfied that the U.N. has approved new sanctions against North Korea,” Abe said. “What’s crucial now is to put sanctions into effect without lapses and that requires close cooperation with China and Russia.”
In his U.N. speech, Abe said North Korean nuclear weapons either already were, or were on the verge of becoming, hydrogen bombs, presenting an unprecedented threat.
“It is indisputably a matter of urgency,” Abe said.
“We must prevent the goods, funds, people, and technology necessary for nuclear and missile development from heading to North Korea,” he said.
“Whether or not we can put an end to the provocations by North Korea is dependent upon the solidarity of the international community. There is not much time left.”
Abe said Japan, a treaty ally of the United States, consistently supported the U.S. stance that “all options are on the table” in dealing with North Korea.
On Sept. 11, the U.N. Security Council unanimously stepped up sanctions against North Korea over its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, imposing a ban on the isolated nation’s textile exports and capping imports of crude oil.
North Korea fired a missile on Friday that flew over Hokkaido in northern Japan and landed far out into the Pacific Ocean, according to Japanese and South Korean officials, further ratcheting up tensions in the region.
Abe said diplomatic attempts to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear aspirations have failed over two decades.
“Dialogue for the purpose of having dialogue is meaningless,” Abe said at the New York Stock Exchange.
Reporting by Nathan Layne and Kevin Krolicki in New York; additional reporting by David Brunnstrom at the United Nations; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Grant McCool