Germany, France, Italy seek tougher EU sanctions on North Korea

A handout photo made available by South Korea Defense Ministry shows a Hyunmoo-2 missile being launched at an undisclosed location on the east coast of South Korea, 04 September 2017, as the South Korean military conducts a combined live-fire exercise in response to North Korea's sixth nuclear test a day earlier. [South Korea Defence Ministry Han/EPA/EFE]

Germany, Italy and France on Sunday (3 September) urged tougher EU sanctions against North Korea, after Pyongyang “reached a new dimension of provocation” with its latest nuclear test.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed during a phone call “that North Korea has trampled on international law and that the international community must therefore react with determination against this new escalation”, the chancellery said in a statement.

Pyongyang conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test earlier on Sunday.

Both leaders “are calling for tougher EU sanctions against North Korea”, Berlin added.

Separately, Macron also spoke on the phone with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, who shared the German-French position “on the necessity of a strong international reaction”.

EU calls for 'peaceful, not military' solution to Korea crisis

The European Union’s foreign policy chief on Monday (14 August) called for “peaceful, not military” means to resolve the Korean peninsula crisis, urging Pyongyang to avoid any “further provocative action” that could stoke tensions.

This includes action by “the Security Council and the European Union, which should adopt new sanctions” against Pyongyang, the French presidency said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Sunday said the UN Security Council should urgently look at imposing new sanctions on North Korea and speed up implementation of existing ones.

“This latest action by North Korea is reckless and poses an unacceptable further threat to the international community,” May said in an emailed statement.

“I discussed the serious and grave threat these dangerous and illegal actions present with Prime Minister Abe in Japan this week and reiterate the call we jointly made for tougher action, including increasing the pace of implementation of existing sanctions and looking urgently in the UN Security Council at new measures.”

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel also said Pyongyang’s latest test “means that we have to find a level-headed but clear answer”.

Ukraine sees itself victim of Russian ‘provocation’ in North Korea missile row

Ukraine called allegations about the use of Ukrainian technology in the North Korean missile program a “Russian provocation” on Tuesday (22 August).

“We will discuss this reaction with our partners in the EU. I am sure that the UN Security Council will also take necessary measures in a decisive manner,” he said.

The EU has steadily ramped up its sanctions against Kim Jong-Un’s North Korea, particularly in the last few months.

Most recently in August, the bloc expanded its North Korea sanctions blacklist after Pyongyang tested an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the US mainland.

EU sanctions against North Korea date back to 2006 and are part of international efforts to halt Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile ambitions.