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US, Japan, Europe condemn NK’s missile launch, urge to return to dialogue

North Korea said it test-fired a hypersonic missile on January 5, in this photo released by the country`s state-run Korean Central News Agency the day after. (KCNA-Yonhap)
North Korea said it test-fired a hypersonic missile on January 5, in this photo released by the country`s state-run Korean Central News Agency the day after. (KCNA-Yonhap)

The US and five other countries condemned Pyongyang’s missile launch last week, and urged the reclusive regime to abandon its prohibited nuclear and ballistic missile programs and return to denuclearization talks on Monday.

The joint statement by the US, Japan, France, the UK, Ireland and Albania came ahead of the UN Security Council closed-door meeting in New York to discuss the country’s last week’s test of what Pyongyang called a hypersonic missile. Shortly after the council’s emergency meeting, the North again upped the tension by firing a suspected ballistic missile toward the East Sea on Tuesday morning.

South Korea did not participate in the statement condemning the launch along with the US and its allies. The Foreign Ministry here said it took “various factors” into account behind the decision.

”The government’s stance is to respond comprehensively (to the missile launch), taking various factors into account, including the stable management of the situation on the Korean Peninsula and the need to maintain momentum for reviving dialogue,” said Choi Young-sam, the ministry’s spokesperson. “The government will continue to keep an eye on the discussions by the international society, including the UN, and closely communicate with the major Security Council member states”

“We stand today unified in our condemnation of the DPRK’s most recent missile launch, which the Security Council will discuss shortly,” the countries said in a joint statement, delivered by US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, stressing that the North’s continued pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile program is a “threat to international peace and security.”

The DPRK is the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“These actions increase the risk of miscalculation and escalation and pose a significant threat to regional stability,” the countries said in a joint statement. “The DPRK’s record of weapons proliferation is clear. Each missile launch serves not only to advance the DPRK’s own capabilities, but to expand the suite of weapons available for export to its illicit arms clients and dealers around the world.”

It added that Pyongyang is making these military investments “at the expense of well-being of North Korean people.” “The people of North Korea continue to suffer under a strict authoritarian regime and through an increasingly serious humanitarian crisis.”

The diplomats urged the council to “stand united in opposing the DPRK’s ongoing, destabilizing, and unlawful actions,” and called on all UN member states to fulfill their sanctions obligation under the Security Council resolution.

The countries also stressed that their goal remains the “complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, noting they are prepared to engage in “serious and sustained diplomacy” with Pyongyang to that end.

“It is the DPRK that now must choose dialogue and peace over its unlawful and threatening weapons program.”

While the US and its allies issued a joint statement, the UNSC took no further action after their Monday consultation. This was because Russia and China again called for the lifting of some sanctions against North Korea, according to the Associated Press. 

Previously, the UNSC held two emergency meetings in October to follow up on the North’s Sep. 28 launch of what it claimed to be a hypersonic missile, and a submarine-launched ballistic missile on Oct. 19.

No resolution nor a joint statement were issued after the meetings. During an Oct. 1 meeting, France proposed the adoption of a joint statement condemning the launch, but Russia and China refused the measure. The Oct. 20 meeting on the SLBM test also failed to issue a joint text.

By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)
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