World unity crumbles in face of North Korea threat

Washington (AFP) – International solidarity in the face of North Korea’s nuclear threat crumbled Tuesday as Russia rebuffed US calls for new UN sanctions and Washington promised its allies advanced weaponry.

Last month, Pyongyang’s latest missile test drew unanimous condemnation from the UN Security Council — but Sunday’s apparent hydrogen bomb detonation revealed an underlying diplomatic rift.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin declared Washington’s demand for a vote on new UN sanctions to be “useless,” while US President Donald Trump promised Japan and South Korea new advanced arms.

And, while China may be concerned about a threat to the military balance in the region, the North Korean regime itself remained undaunted, vowing to send Washington “more gift packages.”

The disagreements appeared to be splitting the world into familiar opposing diplomatic camps, with China and Russia resisting pressure for more action from London, Tokyo and Washington.

Japanese officials, meanwhile, warned that Sunday’s test may have been more successful than initially feared and involved a bomb eight times more powerful than that which destroyed Hiroshima.

– Secondary sanctions –

Washington’s tough-talking ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, is expected to unveil yet another new UN sanctions package targeting Kim Jong-Un’s regime this week.

She had demanded a vote as early as Monday — while Washington is in parallel considering slapping secondary sanctions on Russian and Chinese firms and finance houses that have dealings with the North.

The UN route appears likely to be a dead end. China generally resists pressure on its unruly neighbor, and Putin — locked in his own showdown with Washington — appeared in no mood for compromise.

“Resorting to just any sanctions in this situation is useless and inefficient,” he told reporters in the Chinese city of Xiamen after a summit of the five-nation BRICS club of emerging economies.

“All of this can lead to a global planetary catastrophe and a great number of victims,” he said, implying that Washington’s stance is as much to blame for the tension as Kim’s nuclear brinksmanship.

Trump’s administration has said it cannot accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed power with missiles capable of reaching US cities — but recent tests have shown the limits of its options.

Aside from secondary sanctions, and amid questions about whether a pre-emptive US attack could be effective, Trump has decided to flex US muscle by arming China’s…

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