The United Nations Security Council will meet this week to discuss North Korea's recent missile launches and the possibility of an escalatory provocation by the regime, Reuters reported Monday, citing diplomats and a request from the United States.
The meeting will be held publicly Wednesday, according to Reuters, just days after North Korea announced it conducted an unspecified "very important test" at its Dongchang-ri satellite launch site. Experts have suggested the test on Saturday may have involved an engine for a new long-range missile.
That the request was made by the U.S., which serves as president of the council this month, may indicate that Washington will not tolerate the latest escalation of threats by the North.
When European Union members of the 15-member council condemned Pyongyang's short-range ballistic missile launches in recent months, the U.S. did not take part in the joint action.
"In light of recent events on the Korean Peninsula and the President's Dec. 5 meeting with the Permanent Representatives to the U.N. Security Council, the State Department is instructing (the U.S. Mission to the United Nations) to propose to have the U.N. Security Council discussion on North Korea this week include a comprehensive update on recent developments on the Korean Peninsula, including recent missile launches and the possibility of an escalatory DPRK provocation," a U.S. State Department spokesperson said earlier Monday.
DPRK stands for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Reuters said the U.S. decided to convene a meeting Wednesday focusing on the threat from North Korea, while at least eight countries on the council had pushed for a discussion on the regime's human rights abuses on Tuesday, sparking strong opposition from Pyongyang.
Recent weeks have seen an escalation of tensions between Washington and Pyongyang as North Korea ramps up pressure on the U.S. to make concessions in negotiations on dismantling the regime's nuclear weapons program by the end of the year.
U.S. President Donald Trump warned Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could lose "everything" if he acts in a hostile manner.
On Monday, North Korean officials slammed Trump's remarks. Former nuclear negotiator Kim Yong-chol claimed that the country has "nothing more to lose." And Ri Su-yong, vice chairman of the Central Committee of the North's ruling Workers' Party, warned the U.S. president to halt any "abusive language which may further offend" leader Kim.
The negotiations have stalled since a second summit between Trump and Kim in February ended without any deal, with the two sides far apart on how much the North should denuclearize in order to receive sanctions relief and security guarantees from the U.S.
Last week, North Korea said it is up to the U.S. to choose what "Christmas gift" it will get, apparently threatening to resume nuclear and long-range missile tests.
Trump hinted that the U.S. would use military force against North Korea if necessary, saying, "Hopefully, we don't have to use it, but if we do, we'll use it."
The U.S. president also referred to Kim as "Rocket Man," a derogatory term he coined for the North Korean leader in 2017 when tensions peaked over Pyongyang's nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests.
North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui responded with a warning that if Trump uses such language again, with the intention of provoking the North, it should be diagnosed as the "relapse of the dotage of a dotard" and Pyongyang will counter with harsh language of its own.
North Korea called Trump a "mentally deranged U.S. dotard" amid the heightened tensions in 2017. (Yonhap)