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Rabu, 15 September 2021

United States condemns North Korea's ballistic missile launch, United Nations also concerned - ABC News

The United States has condemned North Korea's latest ballistic missile launch as a violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions.

North Korea and South Korea both test-fired ballistic missiles on Wednesday, the latest volleys in an arms race in which both nations have developed increasingly sophisticated weapons amid fruitless attempts to get talks going on defusing tensions.

North Korea fired a pair of ballistic missiles that landed in the sea off its east coast, according to South Korean and Japanese officials, just days after it tested a cruise missile that analysts said could have nuclear capabilities.

South Korea tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile, becoming the first country without nuclear weapons to develop such a system.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in was attending that test firing when word came of the North Korean launches, that country's first ballistic missile tests since March.

The US said North Korea's launch posed a threat to Pyongyang's neighbours, a State Department spokesperson said, without mentioning South Korea's tests.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the UN was also concerned about the North Korean launches.

Japan's defence ministry said the North Korean missiles landed inside Japan's exclusive economic zone, contradicting earlier comments that they fell outside its waters.

North Korea has been steadily developing its weapons systems amid a stand-off over talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear and ballistic missile arsenals in return for US sanctions relief.

The negotiations, initiated between former US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in 2018, have stalled since 2019.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea fired two unidentified missiles from its central inland region just after 12:30 pm local time. They flew 800 kilometres, reaching a maximum altitude of 60km.

World leaders react

Diplomats said France and Estonia planned to raise the North Korean launches at a closed-door UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday.

The US military's Indo-Pacific Command said the North Korean launches did not pose an immediate threat to US personnel, territory or allies, but highlighted the destabilising impact of its illicit weapons programme.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga called them "outrageous" and a threat to peace and security in the region.

The foreign ministers of South Korea and China have been holding talks in Seoul amid concern over North Korea's tests and the stalled denuclearisation negotiations.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, when asked about the cruise missile tests, said all parties should work to promote peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.

"Not only North Korea but other countries are carrying out military activity," he told reporters.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, right, greets Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (right) with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on Wednesday.(

AP: Choi Jae-ku/Yonhap

)

In a meeting with Mr Wang on Wednesday, Mr Moon asked for China's support to restart dialogue, saying North Korea had not been responding to South Korean and US offers for talks or engagement such as humanitarian aid, Mr Moon's spokesperson said.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China hoped "relevant parties" would exercise restraint.

Mr Moon cited nuclear-armed North Korea's "asymmetric capabilities" as a reason for South Korea, which is not a nuclear power, to develop better missiles.

South Korea has been pursuing a range of new military systems, including ballistic missiles, submarines and its first aircraft carrier.

It has a stated policy of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.

"Enhancing our missile capability is exactly what's needed as deterrence against North Korea's provocation," Mr Moon said, while stressing that the submarine-launched ballistic missile test was pre-planned and not a response to North Korean launches.

'The strongest Korea'

The arms race has accelerated under Mr Moon for a number of reasons, including his push for more foreign policy autonomy, wariness of relying on the United States after the Trump presidency, and military developments in both North Korea and China, according to Ramon Pacheco Pardo, a Korea expert at King's College London.

"South Korea would face many political and legal obstacles to develop nuclear weapons, both internal and external," he said.

"So it will develop all other capabilities to deter North Korea and show who the strongest Korea is."

In a statement carried by state media, Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, called Mr Moon's talk of North Korean provocations inappropriate.

Without mentioning the latest launches by North Korea, she called its activities routine defensive measures, while saying that inter-Korean ties could break down if Mr Moon continued to "slander" Pyongyang.

She said it was "illogical" and "foolish" to portray South Korean behaviour as a legitimate action to support peace, and North Korea's actions as a threat.

North Korea's ballistic missile systems have been banned by UN Security Council resolutions.

In November 2017, North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the entire United States, and declared it had become a nuclear power.

Reuters

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2021-09-15 22:50:22Z
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