N.Korea missile test a needless provocation - GulfToday

N.Korea missile test a needless provocation

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The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

With North Korea firing two more short-range missiles and launching a scathing attack on “foolish” calls for dialogue from South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the inter-Korean peace talks have clearly hit a wall.

The joint exercises between the US and the South Korea have infuriated Pyongyang so much that it has described South Korea’s president as “impudent” and vowed that inter-Korean talks are over.

The North has been vociferously protesting against the joint US-South Korea military drills, largely computer-simulated, which kicked off last week, calling them a rehearsal for war. It has also fired several short-range missiles in recent weeks to indicate its anger.

Although Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have met three times since April last year, pledging peace and cooperation, it’s disappointing that little progress has been made to improve dialogue and strengthen exchanges and cooperation.

If at all anything, the missile launches have complicated attempts to restart negotiations between the US and North Korean negotiators over the future of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

A blame game has also begun.

The loss of dialogue momentum between the North and South and the stalemate in implementing pledges made at an historic summit between their two leaders last year is entirely the responsibility of the South, a North Korean spokesman has stated.

The spokesman repeated criticism that the joint US-South Korea drills were a sign of Seoul’s hostility towards the North.

“We have nothing to talk any more with the South Korean authorities nor have any idea to sit with them again,” the North’s spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country has remarked in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

South Korea’s unification ministry, on its part, has termed North Korea’s comments about Moon “not in line” with inter-Korean agreements and unhelpful for developing relations between them.

Friday’s launches were North Korea’s sixth round of tests since late July.

The weapons the North tested in recent weeks include a new rocket artillery system and what security analysts say are two new short-range mobile ballistic missile systems that would potentially expand its ability to strike targets throughout South Korea, including US bases there.

That, certainly, is a cause for worry.

North Korea carried out six nuclear tests between 2006 and 2017.

The North is banned from ballistic missile launches under UN Security Council resolutions.

The entire dialogue process has witnessed a lot of twists and turns.

After a year of mutual threats and mounting tension, US President Donald Trump and Kim held a historic summit in Singapore last year, where both leaders signed a vague pledge to work towards “denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.

A second summit in Hanoi in February broke up amid disagreements over sanctions relief and concessions from the North.

The two leaders then agreed to resume nuclear talks during an impromptu June meeting in the Demilitarised Zone that divides the peninsula.

Pyongyang recently said nuclear talks would be “strictly” between the North and the US, refusing to hold separate dialogue with the South, having accused Seoul of posing as a “meddlesome mediator” following the collapse of the Hanoi summit.

Whatever the background, the dialogue process should not be shelved. Pyongyang should not resort to threats by firing missiles and instead work out a way through sincere negotiations.

The nuclear issue is too serious to be lost in the din of allegations and counter-allegations.