The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations called on North Korea Wednesday to refrain from further provocative actions and engage in “sustained and substantive dialogues,” after Pyongyang launched a ballistic missile from a submarine this week.
“We should not look at this most recent launch in isolation. It is the latest in a series of reckless provocations,” Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said of Pyongyang’s announced submarine-launched ballistic missile test on Tuesday.
She spoke to reporters ahead of a closed-door Security Council meeting called by the United States, Britain and France to discuss the launches.
“Since the beginning of September, the DPRK has launched multiple ballistic missiles, one of which the DPRK claimed included a new hypersonic glide vehicle capability,” Thomas-Greenfield said, using the abbreviation for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“These are unlawful activities,” she said. “They are in violation of multiple Security Council resolutions, and they are unacceptable. Each new advancement of the DPRK’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs destabilizes the region and threatens international peace and security.”
New missiles, delivery systems
North Korea on Tuesday test-fired a short-range submarine-launched ballistic missile, or SLBM. It was the North's first launch in two years of an SLBM, which if deployed would add an unpredictable component to its fast-expanding arsenal.
Since nuclear talks with the United States broke down in 2019, North Korea has rolled out a series of new missiles and delivery systems, most of which are designed to evade the missile defenses of the U.S. and its allies.
North Korea is banned from any ballistic missile activity — short range or long range — by a series of Security Council resolutions.
“These launches clearly demonstrate the need for the full and effective implementation of U.N. sanctions, as well as the urgent need to address sanctions evasion by the DPRK,” Irish Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason said in a joint statement with her French and Estonian council colleagues.
“The DPRK must immediately end its destabilizing actions and take concrete steps to abandon its ballistic missile, other WMD, and nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner,” Byrne Nason added.
Tuesday’s test was carried out while neighbors Japan and South Korea held talks with the United States in Seoul.
South Korea and the United States have repeatedly offered to resume talks with North Korea in order to reduce tensions and make progress on denuclearization.
“To reach this objective, we will seek diplomacy with the DPRK to make tangible progress that increases the security of the United States and our allies. This includes considering potential engagement with the DPRK to reduce tensions,” Sung Kim, the U.S. envoy for North Korea, said late Monday.
“The U.S. continues to reach out to Pyongyang to restart dialogue. Our intent remains the same. We harbor no hostile intent towards the DPRK, and we are open to meeting with them without preconditions,” he said.
Rejection from Pyongyang
In a speech last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un rejected those offers.
“Recently, the United States has frequently sent signals that it is not hostile to our state, but its behaviors provide us with no reason why we should believe them,” Kim said, according to state media.
In recent weeks, North Korea has released statements objecting both to U.S.-South Korea military exercises, as well as the U.S. military presence in Korea and the wider region.
“North Korea is trying to coerce the world into accepting its violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions as if they are normal acts of self-defense,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.
“This is part of the Kim regime’s efforts to achieve de facto international recognition as a nuclear power and receive concessions just for resuming contact.”