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This undated image distributed Sunday by the North Korean government shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at an undisclosed location. North Korea’s latest nuclear test was part theater, part propaganda and maybe even part fake. But experts say it was also a major display of something very real: Pyongyang’s mastery of much of the know-how it needs to reach its decades-old goal of becoming a full-fledged nuclear state.

NORTH KOREAN GOVERNMENT PHOTO

In order to stop North Korea from taking reckless actions, there is no other way but for the international community, including China and Russia, to keep in step with each other and exert maximum pressure on the country, centering around the limiting of its crude oil supply.

The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting in response to North Korea’s sixth nuclear test.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the meeting emphatically that “only the strongest sanctions will enable us to resolve this problem through diplomacy.” She also indicated that the United States is considering shortly distributing a draft of a new security council resolution for imposing sanctions on North Korea.

The United States has called for putting the draft to a vote on Sept. 11, probably based on their conclusion that the situation has become critical, with North Korea highly likely to take provocative action again, such as firing a ballistic missile, to mark its national foundation day on Sept. 9.

Koro Bessho, Japan’s ambassador to the U.N., echoed the U.S. call, saying that the international community “must apply maximum pressure on North Korea to make the country change its policy.” Swift adoption of an effective resolution is called for.

The United States and Japan aim to include a restriction on crude oil supply to North Korea in a new resolution. This is because a reduction in crude oil shipped via China’s pipelines to North Korea would deal a serious blow to Pyongyang both economically and militarily, possibly prompting the country to change its hard-line stance.

U.S. President Donald Trump has hinted at his country expanding its own sanctions against those enterprises doing business with North Korea, pressing China to respond positively. He is also discussing taking military measures against North Korea.

Unless China and Russia change their cautious stance toward intensifying pressure on Pyongyang, their position will invite more provocative actions from North Korea, making a peaceful solution less likely. Both China and Russia should realize that such a stance would also become detrimental to their economic interests.

It is worrisome that North Korea is making use of loopholes in sanctions via various means. After China suspended coal imports from North Korea, Pyongyang rerouted its coal exports to Malaysia and Vietnam.

North Korea is also suspected to have carried out a cyberattack on an account held by Bangladesh’s central bank, stealing 9 billion by fraudulently transferring it out.

Not to be left intact either is the current state of affairs in which North Korea has dispatched large numbers of workers abroad, earning foreign currency.

At an out-of-session meeting of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Foreign Minister Taro Kono pointed out that “in the Middle East, there is a country that takes in North Korean workers in units of 1,000.” He also indicated that he plans to raise this problem during his visits to countries in the Middle East, which start on Friday.

It is important for all member countries to implement sanctions on North Korea steadily, and to reinforce international efforts to contain the country.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has repeatedly held telephone talks with the leaders of the United States and South Korea. The more tense the situation over the North Korean issue becomes, the more important close cooperation among Japan, the United States and South Korea becomes. Abe has also asked Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone to cooperate. Abe should make his summit talks with Putin, to be held in Vladivostok, Russia, an opportunity to close the gap between the position of Russia and that of Japan and the United States.

This editorial appeared in The Japan News on Sept. 6.

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