WILBUR ROSS: China 'sent a very powerful message to North Korea'

Posted September 24, 2017

On Thursday Trump announced new USA sanctions that he said allows the targeting of companies and institutions that finance and facilitate trade with North Korea.

A small natural disaster near North Korea's nuclear test site on Saturday was probably not manmade, the nuclear proliferation watchdog and a South Korean official said, easing fears Pyongyang had exploded another nuclear bomb just weeks after its last one.

"Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn't mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!" the president wrote online Friday morning, capping a week of tough talk on foreign policy at the United Nations and in sideline meetings with world leaders.

North Korea was slapped with stiffer sanctions by the United Nations after its sixth and most powerful nuclear test September 3.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has urged calm and likened the argument to a kindergarten scrap, with North Korea's foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, expected to speak at the United Nations General Assembly later on Saturday. "However, we are carrying out a further analysis because there are concerns that it might have been a man-made quake".

All of North Korea's six nuclear tests registered as earthquakes of magnitude 4.3 or above.

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Lavrov on Friday again pushed a proposal by Moscow and Beijing for a dual suspension of North Korean weapons tests and the U.S.

"Trump labeled Kim a "madman" and taunted him as 'rocket man", while in a rare personal statement this week Kim lashed out, and referred to Trump as "mentally deranged" and a "dotard".

"We are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea".

Kim said in his statement early Friday that if the US were to carry out its threat to destroy the North, his country would consider the "highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history".

The U.S. sanctions, announced Thursday, expanded the Treasury Department's ability to target anyone conducting significant trade in goods, services or technology with North Korea and to ban them from interacting with the U.S. financial system.

Trump repeatedly has called for China to use its position to increase pressure on North Korea.

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"People say this is all part of its brinkmanship strategy to force the USA to come forward for negotiation".

However, South Korea's state weather agency says there is insufficient ground to assume today's natural disaster in the North to be linked to another missile test. "In this case we saw none".

US officials would not confirm that.

"Our analysis shows that it was a natural quake". The last atmospheric test took place in 1980, when China fired what experts believed to be a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile into a desert salt flat more than 1,300 miles west of Beijing.

There was no immediate reaction from China's Foreign Ministry, but the news was widely reported by Chinese state media outlets and on social media. It will also ban imports of textiles from North Korea.

They were unnerved by Trump's speech to the United Nations this week, in which he derided North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as "Rocket Man" and said Kim was "on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime".

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The quake comes amid soaring tensions over Pyongyang's weapons programme, with the firing of two missiles over Japan in recent weeks and its sixth and largest nuclear test earlier this month.