- The Washington Times - Monday, May 22, 2017

French diplomats at the United Nations are sounding the alarm over North Korea’s ballistic missile capabilities, calling upon the international organization to execute a new round of sanctions against Pyongyang over its recent round of missile tests.

Sunday’s test shot of the Pukguksong-2, North Korea’s latest mid-range intermediate ballistic missile, was “another unacceptable provocation” by North Korean dictator Kin Jong-un, whose recent confrontations with the U.S. and the West have ratcheted up tensions in the Pacific region, French Ambassador to the U.N. Francois Delattre said Monday.

The missile test, which the weapon reportedly traveled over 300 miles toward the Japanese coast and reached an altitude of nearly 350 miles before crashing into the Sea of Japan, required “a swift and firm reaction” from the U.N. and the international community writ large, Mr. Delattre told The Associated Press.

France, which is a member of the U.N. Security Council, is working with its allies on the panel to draft new sanctions against the North Korean regime, Mr. Delattre said. The effort, being led by the U.S., Japan and South Korea, will also look to impart stricter enforcement of existing sanctions against Pyongyang.

Sunday’s test shot of the submarine-based, nuclear-capable missile traveled higher and further than any previous tests of similar ballistic missiles tested by North Korea, Defense Secretary James Mattis said Friday.

During a press briefing on the U.S.-led campaign to defeat the Islamic State, Mr. Mattis addressed the missile test, saying Washington will continue to apply pressure on North Korea to curb its nuclear ambitions. Beijing, he added, has also become a valuable, if not reluctant, partner in that effort.

“There appears to be some impact by the Chinese working here. It’s not obviously perfect when they launch a missile … but at the same time, we’re going to continue to breed the same kind of pressure internationally that we’ve been trying to. We’re going to continue to work the issue,” Mr. Mattis said Friday.

During the campaign, then-presidential candidate Trump took an aggressive line towards North Korea and China, threatening to label the latter as a currency manipulator. While tensions continue to rise between Washington and Pyongyang, President Trump has taken a more conciliatory tone toward China.

In response, China took the surprising step of abstaining, rather than vetoing, a U.N. Security Council vote on U.S.-backed sanctions against Syria in response to their use of chemical weapons in April.

That support from Beijing has provided “some basis for optimism” inside the White House that China can be a reliable ally regarding North Korea, John Sullivan, a former George W. Bush-era appointee and President Trump’s pick for deputy secretary of state, told Congress earlier this month.

“There has been some positive feedback from the Chinese [on North Korea], giving us hope” that Beijing will be able to curb the nuclear ambitions of its client state, Mr. Sullivan said during his Senate confirmation hearing to become the No. 2 official at the State Department.

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