Another needless provocation by Pyongyang - GulfToday

Another needless provocation by Pyongyang

Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong-Un

North Korea’s decision to fire a ballistic missile off its east coast is yet another major provocative action that casts fresh doubts on efforts to resume the stalled denuclearisation talks as agreed by US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after they met at the demilitarised zone between the two Koreas.

Such repeated launching of missiles will not do any good for Pyongyang, but instead ignite more international anger against the country.

Pyongyang should realise that it is heading in the wrong direction if its intention is to apply pressure tactics.

Washington has already called on North Korea to refrain from such provocations, abide by its obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions, and remain engaged in substantive and sustained negotiations to do its part to ensure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and achieve denuclearisation.

While South Korea says that Wednesday’s missile may have been launched from a submarine, it is surprising that the move came just a day after North Korea announced a resumption of talks with the United States.

Negotiations aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes have effectively been stalled since a second summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un in Vietnam in February ended without a deal.

The two leaders then met at the Demilitarized Zone border between the two Koreas in June and pledged to reopen working-level talks within weeks.

North Korea had been developing submarine-launched ballistic missile technology before it suspended long-range missile and nuclear tests and began talks with the United States that led to the first summit between Kim and Trump in Singapore in June 2018.

State news agency KCNA released photos and a report of Kim Jong Un in July inspecting a large, newly built submarine, seen as a potential signal that pyongyang was continuing with its development of a submarine-launched ballistic missile programme.

It should be noted that the latest missile launch was the ninth since Trump and Kim met in June, but the others have been of short-range land-based missiles.

North Korea acquiring the ability to launch missiles from submarines would be an alarming development because such missiles are harder to detect in advance.

When North Korea’s news agency in July publicised photos of a newly built submarine and said its operational deployment “is near at hand,” some experts told Associated Press it was the North’s biggest submarine with several launch tubes for missiles.

An estimated 70 other submarines in the North’s arsenal only have launch tubes for torpedoes, not missiles.

Japanese Defence Minister Taro Kono has called the launch a serious threat to Japanese national security and Tokyo’s concern is understandable considering the seriousness of the provocation.

Pyongyang is banned by UN Security Council resolutions from engaging in any launch using ballistic technology.

North Korea has defied years of isolation and sanctions to develop its arsenal and has not given up any of its weapons, while proving itself adept at dragging out discussions.

Going by the developments, it is not easy to erase persisting doubts about the future of the negotiations and North’s willingness to give up its stockpile of nuclear weapons.

Pyongyang has to alter course from its maverick behaviour. The best option for it would be to sincerely cooperate with international efforts to find a diplomatic solution leading to lasting peace and security on the Korean Peninsula. Any other path would prove futile.

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