- Associated Press - Friday, September 8, 2017

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - The Latest on tensions created by North Korea’s nuclear weapons program (all times local):

9 p.m.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in says more launchers were added to a contentious high-tech missile defense system because his country faces an unprecedented security threat from North Korea.

Moon also expressed regret over clashes between protesters and police that left dozens injured Thursday when the U.S. military added the four launchers to the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense System in rural Seongju.

A THAAD battery normally consists of six launchers that can fire up to 48 interceptor missiles, but only two launchers been operational at the site, on a former golf course.

Local residents worry about rumored health hazards related to the system’s high-powered radars and the possibility of being targeted in North Korean attacks.

The U.S. began installing the THAAD system under South Korea’s previous government. Moon temporarily halted the installation after taking office to conduct more environmental reviews and ease residents’ concerns.

Since then, North Korea has launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles and conducted its sixth nuclear test. Moon said in a statement Friday that those created an unprecedented security threat for South Korea.


6:40 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron is calling on the international community to put more pressure on North Korea to bring the country back to the negotiating table, in response to Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test.

The French presidency says Macron on Friday had an intensive exchange of views by phone with Chinese President Xi Jinping, given the “major role” his country plays in the crisis.

The statement says both leaders stressed that the international community has condemned North Korea’s “provocations.”

In a previous statement this week, Macron called on the European Union to tighten the sanctions against North Korea, in addition to the U.N. Security Council’s response.


6:10 p.m.

Sweden has urged its citizens to refrain from unnecessary trips to North Korea following the country’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date.

The announcement by the Swedish Foreign Affairs Ministry on Friday came hours after Mexico’s government said it declared North Korean Ambassador Kim Hyong Gil as persona non grata and ordered him to leave the country within 72 hours in response to Sunday’s nuke test.

The United States has already banned Americans from traveling to North Korea following the death of Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old college student from Ohio who was released from North Korea in June in a coma after being detained there for more than a year.

Sweden has had diplomatic relations with North Korea since 1973. The Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang also provides consular services for the United States, Australia and Canada.

South Korea is closely watching North Korea over the possibility it may test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile as soon as Saturday when it celebrates its founding anniversary.

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