North Korea may test nuclear device next week, US envoy warns

The country celebrates Kim Il Sung’s birthday on April 15.

As North Korea prepares to celebrate its most important holiday next week, the United States fears that Pyongyang “may be tempted to take another provocative action”, including a possible nuclear test.

“We, in cooperation and coordination with our allies and partners, are ready to face whatever they might do, and I would like to stress that we obviously hope that they will refrain from any further provocations,” he said. said the American special envoy for North Korea, Sung Kim. .

North Korea will celebrate the birth of the country’s founder, Kim Il Sung, on April 15. Kim is the grandfather of current dictator Kim Jong Un.

The isolated country has not carried out a nuclear test since September 2017, its sixth on record.

As Russia’s war in Ukraine heightens tensions between the Kremlin and the West, Kim said Russian and Chinese diplomats at the United Nations have hampered any US effort to condemn Korea’s recent spate of missile launches from the North, including the type of long-range missiles that Russia and China used to condemn in 2017.

“Unfortunately, I cannot say that we have had productive discussions with” China or Russia about a new UN Security Council resolution, Kim told reporters during a briefing on Wednesday.

The two countries even blocked a public statement by the UN Security Council condemning the 13 recent launches, according to Kim, even though they violate several UN resolutions.

Yet the United States and its allies are pursuing a new resolution to condemn North Korea’s launches because “the Security Council must respond to these flagrant violations of multiple Security Council resolutions,” Kim said. “It’s about the credibility of the United Nations.”

Kim, who is also the U.S. ambassador to Indonesia, traveled to Washington this week, including to meet his Chinese counterpart on Tuesday for a “very long and detailed discussion.”

He said that despite Chinese opposition, he remains “convinced that Beijing shares our goal of complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Part of the US outreach to China on this issue is due to North Korea rejecting all US entreaties under the Biden administration.

“We have sent several messages, both public and private, inviting them to dialogue without any conditions,” Kim told reporters, but North Korea has yet to respond, which Kim called “very disappointing”.

He declined to speculate on the reasons, but said the COVID-19 pandemic could be one reason. North Korea “finds itself isolated in an unprecedented way and shut down during the COVID pandemic. Only the resumption of diplomacy can break this isolation,” he said.

Instead, the United States heard more heated rhetoric from Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, who this week warned against a nuclear response if South Korea prepared to strike. Kim said the United States was “concerned” by the “provocative” comments.

With Biden’s North Korea policy going nowhere fast, Kim argued it was still having a big effect. While Pyongyang remains committed to perfecting its nuclear weapons program, US sanctions and pressure are “limiting their progress”, he said.

ABC News

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