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Nuclear envoys of S. Korea, U.S., Japan hold talks over N. Korean missile tests

All News 02:11 March 15, 2022

By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, March 14 (Yonhap) -- The top nuclear envoys of South Korea, Japan and the United States held trilateral talks Monday to discuss North Korea's recent missile launches that tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile system, the U.S. Department of State said.

U.S. Special Representative for the DPRK Sung Kim talked on the phone with his South Korean counterpart, Noh Kyu-duk, and Japan's Takehiro Funakoshi, according to department spokesperson Ned Price. DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.

Price said the three envoys discussed North Korea's two most recent missile tests, conducted Feb. 27 and March 5 (Seoul time), which "all three governments have concluded were tests of a new DPRK intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system."

"Special Representative Kim strongly condemned the launches, which violated multiple UN Security Council resolutions and present a serious threat to international peace and security," he said in a press release.

Noh Kyu-duk (R), South Korea's special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, poses for a photo with Sung Kim (C), U.S. special envoy for North Korea, and Takehiro Funakoshi, head of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, during their talks in Honolulu on Feb. 10, 2022, in this photo released by the South Korean foreign ministry. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Kim also reaffirmed U.S. commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and its "ironclad commitment" to the defense of South Korea and Japan, he added.

A senior U.S. administration official earlier said the recent North Korean missile tests did not demonstrate the range or capability of an ICBM, but that the North may soon conduct an ICBM test at "full range."

Pyongyang said in January that it may consider restarting "all temporarily-suspended activities," which many believe hinted at lifting of its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile testing that has been in place since late 2017.

Informed sources in Seoul have also said the North appears to be repairing its Punggye-ri nuclear test site, which it purportedly demolished in 2018.

"Special Representative Kim expressed concern that these ICBM launches represented a serious escalation by the DPRK and pose a significant risk to regional stability," the department spokesperson said of the trilateral call between Kim and his South Korean and Japanese counterparts.

"While noting that the door remains open to diplomacy, Special Representative Kim emphasized that the United States will take all necessary measures to ensure the security of the American homeland and our allies," said the press release.

North Korea has avoided denuclearization talks since late 2019. It also remains unresponsive to any recent U.S. overtures.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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