North Korea war fears ramp up as UN calls meeting over nuclear threat

North Korea missiles: Expert discusses possible sanctions

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Diplomatic sources have said France and the United Kingdom have also pushed for the meeting due to concerns over a hypersonic missile test, openly celebrated by Pyongyang. North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes are banned by United Nations Security Council resolutions and are subject to multiple international sanctions as a result.

With tensions running high in the region, North Korea claims to need such weapons for defensive purposes as the United States ramps up military presence in the area following a nuclear submarine deal with the British and Australians.

At the recent United Nations General Assembly in New York, South Korean President, Moon Jae-in repeated a call for a formal declaration of the end of the Korean war.

North Korean President, Kim Jong-un has also recently offered to restore an inter-Korean emergency hotline.

During his annual parliament session speech, North Korean state media published Kim Jong-un’s thoughts on resolving the wider crisis.

“The US is touting ‘diplomatic engagement’… but it is no more than a petty trick for deceiving the international community and hiding its hostile acts and an extension of the hostile policy pursued by the successive U.S. administrations,” said the North Korean leader.

Speaking of the so-called hotline to Seoul. Mr Kim said: “It depends on the attitude of the South Korean authorities whether the inter-Korean relations would be restored or continue to keep the present state of worsening.”

The North Korean leader’s sister and senior government figure Kim Yo-jong also reflected the attitude to diplomacy, when last week she said: “What needs to be dropped is the double-dealing attitudes and hostile stand of justifying their own acts while faulting our just exercise of the right to self-defence.”

Speaking on the notion of ending the technically still ongoing Korean war, Ms Kim said: “Only when such a precondition is met, would it be possible to sit face to face and declare the significant termination of war.”

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As tension mounts in the region, South Korea has spent billions on military development in order to counteract the actions of Pyongyang.

However, the ongoing armament is now rapidly becoming a regional arms race, with the consequences spreading beyond the Korean peninsula and onto Japan, China, Australia and the wider Indo-Pacific region.

Just recently, in a show of force designed as a message from Seoul to Pyongyang, the South Korean military successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile, or SLBM, for the first time, making it one of only a few nations with such capability.

North Korea also matched the gesture in kind by launching a test missile from the back of a train, believed to be the first and only such method of an ICBM delivery in the world.

With the United States President Joe Biden yet to emulate the diplomatic success of his predecessor, Donald Trump, in meeting the North Korean leader face to face, a lot is still to be done by the Biden government to prove its intentions of diplomacy are genuine.

Talks between Pyongyang and Washington have remained in a hiatus since the collapse of the Hanoi summit in 2019, over what is believed to have been a dispute over what North Korea would have been prepared to give up in return for sanctions relief.

Current conditions in North Korea are reported to be extremely difficult due to the impact of international sanctions, on top of the closure of borders by Pyongyang following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With elections upcoming in Seoul, President Moon Jae-in will be keen to restore some ties with North Korea, yet there is still no guarantee that such a feat will keep Mr Moon in the Blue House for another term.

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