North Korea’s second missile test on Thursday signals it is serious about developing new, short-range weapons that could be used early and effectively in any war with South Korea and the United States, analysts studying images of the latest launches say.
Last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the first flight of a previously untested weapon - a relatively small, fast missile experts believe will be easier to hide, launch, and manoeuvre in flight.
Photos released by state media on Friday showed Thursday’s test involved the same weapon. The tests have increased tensions after the last U.S.-North Korea summit collapsed in February in Hanoi with no agreement over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programme.
Iran said on Sunday it could quit a treaty against the spread of nuclear weapons after the United States tightens sanctions, while an Iranian general said the U.S. Navy was interacting as before with an elite military unit blacklisted by Washington. Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen since the Trump administration withdrew last year from a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran and began ratcheting up sanctions.
Earlier this month, the United States blacklisted Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and demanded buyers of Iranian oil stop purchases by May or face sanctions.
“The Islamic Republic’s choices are numerous, and the country’s authorities are considering them ... and leaving NPT (nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) is one of them,” state broadcaster IRIB’s website quoted Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying.
“We do not believe any result can be reached with sanctions. I think meaningful dialogue and talks are more useful than sanctions. Not only neighboring countries but many countries from many regions of the world are being impacted by these unilateral sanctions,” Turkey foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
Barbara Slavin, an Iran expert at the Washington-based Atlantic Council said: “This is not 2012 when the world was united behind sanctions against Iran. The US has had some success in terms of frightening away major corporations. The sanctions hurt a lot. But Iran is still going to be able to sell oil.”
Washington was playing a “double game”, said a lengthy commentary carried by the North’s official KCNA news agency, and was “little short of destroying” the rare diplomatic opportunity between the two.
“Hostile policy and reciprocity can not go together,” it said, and negotiations would not move forward “an inch with an obstacle called sanctions. The US… is responding to good faith with evil,” it added.
If the US imposes sanctions on Saudi Arabia, it will “stab its own economy to death” the head of Al Arabiya said. Riyadh may become friends with Iran, trade its oil in yuan and invite the Russian military.
“These are simple procedures that are part of over 30 others that Riyadh will implement directly, without flinching an eye if sanctions are imposed on it, according to Saudi sources who are close to the decision-makers,” the report said.
In a victory for Tehran against Washington, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered the United States to halt the unilateral sanctions it recently re-imposed on “humanitarian” supplies to Iran. The Hague-based court, which is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, announced its ruling on Wednesday regarding the July lawsuit brought by Tehran against Washington’s decision to re-impose unilateral sanctions following the US exit from the the 2015 nuclear deal.