SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korea on Sunday called on North Korea to commit to its previous disarmament commitments, while expressing concern over the revelation of a suspicious new long-range missile during a military parade.
During celebrations for his ruling party’s 75th birthday in Pyongyang on Saturday, North Korea received a variety of weapons systems, including two missiles first unveiled to a foreign audience. One is what appears to be an intercontinental ballistic missile larger than any of the known ICBMs in the North, and the other would most likely be an upgraded version of a submarine-launched missile.
While some experts say they could be models of missiles under development, their revelations show that North Korea is constantly pushing for its weapons capabilities amid a nuclear stalemate with the United States.
South Korea’s defense ministry said Sunday it had expressed concern that “North Korea has discovered weapons, including what is suspected to be a new long-range ballistic missile.” A ministry statement called on North Korea to abide by the 2018 Korean agreements aimed at reducing hostilities.
The South Korean Foreign Ministry issued a separate statement calling on North Korea to return to talks to build on its previous commitment to denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula. Following an emergency meeting of the National Security Council, council members in South Korea said they would continue to analyze the strategic importance of North Korea’s weapons unveiled on Saturday and review South Korea’s defense capabilities.
Ties between the Koreans remain strained amid a stalemate in nuclear diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington.
Speaking at the military parade, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned he would fully mobilize his nuclear force if threatened, but avoided direct criticism from Washington.
The fact that Kim maintains a self-propelled moratorium on nuclear tests and long-range missile tests shows that he still wants to maintain the chances of diplomacy with the United States. However, some experts say he will eventually conduct a major arms test after the US presidential election in November to bolster his power in possible new negotiations with the US, whoever wins the election.