N Korea sparks UN crisis summit
NEW YORK: The UN Security Council hurriedly organised an emergency closed-door meeting on North Korea and its rogue dictator Kim Jong-un on Wednesday, after Pyongyang said it had successfully tested a “new type” of submarinelaunched ballistic missile.
The session was requested by Britain and the US, diplomatic sources said.
The latest missile test by the nuclear-armed country – which was carried out near Sinpo, the site of a major naval dockyard – came as both Koreas build up their weapons technology in what could become an arms race on the peninsula, and with Washington-Pyongyang dialogue at a standstill.
A proven submarine-based missile capability would take the North’s arsenal to a new level, allowing deployment far beyond the Korean peninsula and giving the country a second-strike capability in the event of an attack.
The missile had “lots of advanced control guidance technologies”, the official Korean Central News Agency said.
But it added that it was fired from the same vessel that the North used in its first SLBM test five years ago, indicating it may have made limited progress in its launch capabilities.
Pictures in the Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed the missile emerging from calm waters and trailing a column of fire and smoke.
Washington, Seoul and Tokyo have condemned the launch, with all three describing it as a ballistic missile.
The emergency UN summit was expected to discuss the West’s response to this latest provocation from Pyongyang.
North Korea has stepped up its missile test program in recent weeks, including firing a long-range cruise missile, a train-launched weapon, and what it said was a hypersonic warhead, sparking global concern about its capability.
“We’ve seen so far five missile launches from North Korea in the past couple of months,” said Soo Kim of the RAND Corporation.
“Each test showed something different in the way of Pyongyang’s missile capabilities. So the regime is adding more provocation tools, which isn’t exactly good news for the US, South Korea and Japan.
“Kim also wants the attention, of course,” she added.
The North is officially banned from developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles under UN Security Council resolutions, and is subject to multiple sets of sanctions as a result of its flagrant disregard of the ban.
It says it needs its nuclear arsenal to defend against possible US invasion.
The White House said the latest missile test underscored the “urgent” need for dialogue with Pyongyang, with spokeswoman Jen Psaki telling a press briefing: “Our offer remains to meet anywhere, anytime, without preconditions.”
At the same time, South Korean President Moon Jae-in is pressing for a formal declaration that the Korean War is over. Hostilities ceased in 1953 with an armistice rather than a binding peace treaty.