Envoys Discuss NKorea Nuke Threat 05/27 06:22
The top nuclear envoys from South Korea, the United States and Japan agreed
Wednesday on the need to increase pressure on North Korea and urged the country
to engage in serious negotiations on its expanding nuclear weapons program.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- The top nuclear envoys from South Korea, the
United States and Japan agreed Wednesday on the need to increase pressure on
North Korea and urged the country to engage in serious negotiations on its
expanding nuclear weapons program.
The one-day meeting in Seoul follows a recent North Korea claim that it had
tested a new type of missile from a submarine and a reiteration that it had
built a nuclear warhead small enough to be mounted on a long-range missile.
Outside analysts are skeptical about both claims, but they believe the North
has built a small but growing nuclear bomb arsenal and advanced its missile
program since international nuclear disarmament talks stalled in early 2009.
Seoul, Washington and Tokyo are members of now-dormant six-nation
negotiations aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program in return
for aid and political concessions. The other members are Pyongyang, Beijing and
Wednesday's meetings are part of a series of such talks meant to coordinate
a unified stance on North Korea's growing arsenal. Prospects are slim that
larger disarmament talks with Pyongyang will happen soon. Washington and its
allies want North Korea to demonstrate its sincerity by following through with
past nuclear pledges. North Korea, however, has consistently demanded that
Washington and its allies recognize it as a nuclear weapons power.
"We reaffirmed our commitment to continuing the closest possible trilateral
coordination and consultation," U.S. envoy Sung Kim told reporters after the
meeting. "We agreed on the importance of enhancing pressure and sanctions on
North Korea even as we keep all diplomatic options on the table and open."
South Korean envoy Hwang Joonkook urged the North to engage in discussions
in a sincere manner, warning its diplomatic and international isolation would
deepen if it defiantly pushes to develop more weapons.
Worries about the North's stability rose earlier this month when South
Korea's spy agency said that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had his defense
chief executed for disloyalty.
Hwang described Wednesday's meeting as "particularly timely" because of
uncertainty in North Korea.
South Korean and U.S. envoys are to fly to Beijing later this week to hold
individual talks with their Chinese counterpart, according to Seoul's Foreign
Ministry. China is the North's only major ally and main aid benefactor, and is
often mentioned as the key to pushing the North to give up its nuclear
U.S. officials quietly proposed a meeting with North Korea this January,
before the U.S. and South Korea began annual military exercises that North
Korea regards as a provocation. The two sides, however, failed to agree on who
would attend and where they would meet.