Theresa May calls on China to rein in Kim Jong-un as she refuses to rule out military action

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Theresa May refused to rule out  British action to stop North Korea’s illegal missile launches today as the rogue state threatened to increase its military tests.

The Prime Minister, speaking en route to Japan which was flown over by a missile just a day ago, called on China to do more to rein in dictator Kim Jong-un.

Asked four times if she would rule out a British intervention, including cyber warfare or military action, she declined to answer directly. Mrs May landed in Japan this morning at the start of a three-day visit, 24 hours after the  missile alert.

North Korea defied a unanimous vote of condemnation at the UN Security Council by suggesting it would stage further tests of nuclear-capable missiles. State media said the Japan flight was “the first step” of military operations in the Pacific and again threatened the US island of Guam, calling it “an advanced base of invasion”.

Yesterday’s missile caused air raid alerts as it crossed over Japan’s Hokkaido island, before landing in the sea.The UN Security Council held an emergency session and branded the missile flight “outrageous”.

Mrs May said pressure from China was the key to easing the crisis. “China has a key role to play in this… I have said this to President Xi, I know others have as well, we think that China has that important role to play and we would encourage China to do everything it can to bring pressure to bear on North Korea to stop this. The UK is looking at the discussion around further sanctions and the sort of change that China can bring. We see China as being the key in this.”

PM Theresa May vows to put pressure on North Korea.

A British government source suggested cyber warfare might already be being deployed against North Korea, saying to reporters: “If we were doing that we certainly wouldn’t be telling you.”

After landing in Japan Mrs May was due to take a high-speed bullet train and go into talks with premier Shinzo Abe which will focus on trade and security as well as Kim’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

In Beijing, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said China will make a “necessary response”. Hitting back at Mrs May’s call, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying accused some “relevant sides” of selectively carrying out UN resolutions. 

“When it comes to sanctions, they storm to the front but when it comes to pushing for peace they hide at the very back,” she told a news briefing.

She said this was not the attitude “responsible countries” should have when the “smell of gunpowder” remained strong over the Korean peninsula.

The official North Korean news agency quoted leader Kim as saying “like a real war, the latest missile drill was the first step of the military operation of the KPA [Korean People’s Army] in the Pacific and a meaningful prelude to containing Guam”. 

It said the launch was in direct response to joint US-South Korean military exercises currently taking place, and also to mark the anniversary of the 1910 Japanese annexation of the Korean peninsula.

The Hwasong-12 missile launched by the North Koreans flew from a site near the capital Pyongyang for 1,700 miles at low altitude, causing Japan to alert residents in its path to seek shelter in “sturdy buildings”. 

North Korea threatened to fire four missiles into the sea near Guam, home to a major US military base, earlier  this month after President Donald Trump said that the North would face “fire and fury” if it threatened the United States. He has also called on China to help curb North Korea’s nuclear programme.

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