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After North Korea Tests Second Missile, 70 Countries Urge Denuclearization

North Korea military parade July 2013
North Korea military parade July 2013. (Photo: Uri Tours)

“They’re short-range, and I don’t consider that a breach of trust at all. And, you know, at some point I may. But at this point no. These were short-range missiles and very standard stuff. Very standard.”

As many as 70 countries urged North Korea to scrap its nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles and nuclear-related programs following Pyongyang’s second missile test in five days.

The call emerged in a document drafted in France. Several countries have signed the pact, including South Korea and the U.S., as well as countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America. Russia and China, which are Pyongyang’s closest allies, did not sign that document, as Agence France-Presse reported.

The signatories “strongly deplore the grave and undiminished threat to regional and international peace and security posed by the ongoing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles programmes that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has developed,” the document stated as RTE quoted.

The document also added that the signatories have pushed North Korea to avoid further provocation and continue denuclearization talks with the U.S.

Pyongyang fired two short-range missiles last Thursday (May 9) after doing similar activity last Saturday (May 4). Several experts analyzed that the rockets North Korea launched were a Russian Iskander short-range missile system that could maneuver and avoid an anti-missile defense system, according to 38 North.

Soon after the missile launch, the U.S. seized a North Korean cargo ship carrying coal, previously detained in Indonesia in 2018.

Kim Warns the US

Despite saying nobody was happy with what North Korea had launched, President Donald Trump seemed to downplay Pyongyang’s series missile tests, saying the short-range missile tests were standard.

“They’re short-range, and I don’t consider that a breach of trust at all. And, you know, at some point I may. But at this point no. These were short-range missiles and very standard stuff. Very standard,” Trump told Politico.

Many experts see Kim’s latest rocket firing as a form of Pyongyang’s frustration following the failed talks with the U.S. last February in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Trump and Kim failed to reach an agreement in the Hanoi summit. Washington claimed that Pyongyang wanted all the sanctions removed. North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho argued that if the U.S. lifted sanctions partially, North Korea could permanently dismantle production of nuclear materials, including plutonium and uranium under Washington’s supervision as the Straits Times reported on March 1.

At the end of April, Kim visited Russia to hold talks with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. Kim told Putin that North Korea needed a security guarantee before it stopped its nuclear programs.

Denuclearization Is Not Likely Following the Missile Launches

North Korea’s latest missile launching indicates that denuclearization is still far from happening, as Andrei Lankov, professor of Korean studies at Kookmin University in Seoul, stated. “Denuclearization is not going to happen,” Lankov said, adding that Pyongyang will not give up its nuclear arsenals.

Washington and Pyongyang are believed to have a different interpretation of denuclearization. The former says that denuclearization means that the latter is obliged to eliminate all nuclear warheads and launchers as well as its facilities and materials.

But Pyongyang argues that denuclearization includes the withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Korea as well as the removal of all systems and strategic assets related to ballistic protection along the Korean Peninsula.

Will There be a Trump-Kim Third Talk?

Trump’s statement that seemed to downplay North Korea’s missile tests may reflect that the President is still trying to build trust with the 36-year-old leader.

Kim may be willing to talk again with Trump as long as Washington can ease burdening economic sanctions as an exchange for partial demolition of Pyongyang’s nuclear facilities, an offer Trump considers insufficient.

“I am willing to accept if the United States proposes a third North Korea-United States summit on the condition that it has a right attitude and seeks a solution that we can share,” Kim said in a speech to his country’s rubber-stamp legislature, the Supreme People’s Assembly, last April as the New York Times reported.

As both talks (in Singapore and Hanoi) did not produce constructive agreements with both sides’ different definition of denuclearization, it is uncertain that the third talk (if it happens) would make progress for the nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.

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