US Warns North Korea to Avoid Sparking Tensions

US Warns North Korea to Avoid Sparking Tensions
Fri Jul 8, 2016 11:16:04

The United States has warned North Korea to avoid actions and statements that could increase tensions in the region, following Pyongyang’s threat of taking “toughest countermeasures” against Washington over imposing sanctions on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

"We once again call on North Korea to refrain from actions and rhetoric that only further raise tensions in the region, and I can't see how this rhetoric does anything but that," US State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a news briefing on Thursday.

Kirby made the comments a day after the US State Department sanctioned the North Korean leader for the first time over claims that he resorts to "notorious abuses of human rights” and inflicts "intolerable cruelty and hardship on millions of its own people, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detention, forced labor, and torture."

In reaction to the move, the North Korean Foreign Ministry referred to US sanctions as “an open declaration of a war."

The ministry added that the move by Washington constituted "the worst hostile act" against Pyongyang, vowing that North Korea would take the “toughest countermeasures” against the US.

Mark Toner, the State Department Deputy spokesman, also called on North Korea "to refrain from actions and rhetoric that further destabilize the region and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its commitments and international obligations.”

Meanwhile, South Korean authorities welcomed the US decision to impose sanctions against Kim.

“The government [of South Korea] appreciates and welcomes the US decision to impose sanctions against those involved in human rights violations in North Korea. This move demonstrates our commitment to strengthen the sanctions regime against the DPRK (North Korea) in various directions,” South Korea's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

North Korea recently came under the most crippling sanctions by the United Nations and the West over reports of nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

The country describes its nuclear capabilities as a deterrent against hostile US measures, including the stationing of thousands of US soldiers in South Korea and Japan, which Pyongyang argues is part of a plot to topple the government.

S/SH 11

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