SEOUL, South Korea — A senior U.S. diplomat on Sunday urged North Korea to refrain from additional missile tests and resume nuclear diplomacy, days after the North fired off its first underwater-launched ballistic missile in two years.
Sung Kim, the U.S. envoy on North Korea, spoke after meeting with South Korean officials to discuss North Korea’s recent missile tests while nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang remain stalled.
“We call on the DPRK to cease these provocations and other destabilizing activities, and instead, engage in dialogue,” Kim told reporters, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“We remain ready to meet with the DPRK without preconditions and we have made clear that the United States harbors no hostile intent towards the DPRK,” he said.
The fifth round of weapon tests by North Korea in recent weeks included a launch from a submarine last Tuesday of a new ballistic missile.
South Korean officials stated that the sub-surface-fired missile is still at an infancy stage. That marked the North’s first underwater-launched test since October 2019, and the most high-profile one since President Joe Biden took office in January.
It is harder for North Korea to see submarine-launched missiles in advance. This would give them a secondary attack capability.
Tuesday’s launch violates multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions that ban any activity by North Korea in the area of ballistic missiles. Kim said the test poses a threat to the international community and is “concerning and counterproductive” to efforts to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Kim’s South Korean counterpart, Noh Kyu-duk, said the two had an “in-depth” discussion on Seoul’s push for a symbolic declaration to end the 1950-53 Korean War as a way to bring peace. Noh said he and Kim also reaffirmed that North Korea’s issues of concern can be discussed once talks are restarted.
The U.S.-led talks on ending North Korea’s nuclear program have been largely stalled since early 2019, when a summit between then-President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un collapsed due to disputes over U.S.-led sanctions on the North.
The Biden administration has repeatedly said it’s ready to meet North Korea “anywhere and at any time” without preconditions. North Korea insists that a return of talks must be conditional upon the U.S. abandoning what it calls hostile policies, referring to sanctions and routine military drills between Washington DC and Seoul.
North Korea’s submarine missile launch was preceded by six-week-long tests of several new weapon systems, including its longest-range missile cruise and hypersonic missile.
The weapons may put Japan and South Korea within striking distance of the U.S. Allies. In order to exert maximum pressure on America, experts believe North Korea might also be testing a missile capable of reaching American soil in the coming weeks.
Kim Yong Ho (Associated Press) contributed to this article.