The joint command for South Korean and U.S. forces on the Korean peninsula raised its alert level Thursday in response to an extraordinary week of truculence from North Korea.
At the United Nations, diplomats are pushing for sanctions with teeth against the government of Kim Jong Il. Proposals include freezing assets, banning travel for elites and cutting access to international banks.
Japan and the United States want a new resolution that makes cargo inspections of North Korean vessels “compulsory” for U.N. members, according to a report by Japan’s Kyodo news agency, which cited diplomats in New York. It also said that a trade embargo on all arms, not just large weapons such as battle tanks, has been proposed.
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Japan’s foreign ministry declined comment, except to note that Prime Minister Taro Aso is committed to strong sanctions.
Since Monday, North Korea has defied U.N. resolutions by conducting an underground nuclear test and launching five short-range missiles into the sea. After the South responded with a pledge to join U.S.-led efforts to inspect North Korean ships, the North threatened a “merciless” attack against the South and nullified the truce that ended the Korean War.