Reuters File Photo: October 2, 201 Gene The North Korean flag flies at the North Korean Permanent Mission in Geneva. Reuters / Dennis Balibaus
By Hyonhee Shin
SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea fired a missile into the sea off its east coast on Tuesday, with South Korea’s military saying Pyongyang had called on the United States and South Korea to rescind their “dual standards” on their weapons program for renegotiation.
The missile was launched from Jagong in central Uttar Pradesh at 4:40 a.m. (2140 GMT), according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the South. Japan’s defense ministry says it appears to be a ballistic missile, without giving details.
The latest test highlights the stable development of North Korea’s weapons system, increasing the risk of stalled talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear and ballistic missile weapons in exchange for a waiver from US sanctions.
The launch comes just before North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations called on Pyongyang to abandon its hostile policy, and he said no one could deny his country the right to self-defense and weapons testing.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has instructed allies to conduct a detailed analysis of recent moves in Uttar Pradesh.
“We regret that the missile was fired at a time when it was critical to stabilize the situation on the Korean Peninsula,” Defense Ministry spokesman Bu Seung-chan said in a briefing.
The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said the launch highlighted the “destabilizing effects” of the North’s illegal weapons program, while the U.S. State Department also condemned the test.
At the UN General Assembly, North Korea’s UN envoy, Kim Sung, said the country was moving towards self-defense and that if the United States abandoned its hostile policy and “dual standards”, it would respond “voluntarily” to the proposal at any time.
“But it is our decision that at this stage there is no possibility for the United States to withdraw its hostile policy,” Kim said.
Referring to Moon’s call for a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War last week, Kim said Washington should permanently suspend joint military exercises with South Korea and remove “all kinds of strategic weapons” on and around the peninsula.
The United States has deployed sophisticated military resources, including nuclear bombers and warplanes, in South Korea, Guam and Japan, as part of an effort to control growing China rather than North Korea.
Kim’s remarks are consistent with recent criticism of Pyongyang that Seoul and Washington have condemned the development of its weapons while continuing their own military activities.
Kim Yoo-jung, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, says Seoul is willing to improve relations with North Korea and consider another summit if it abandons its dual values and hostile policy towards Pyongyang.
Shin Beom-chul, a senior fellow at the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy in Seoul, said the conditions he proposed were essentially demands that the North adopt a nuclear weapons state.
“Their goal is to achieve that status and create a rift between Seoul and Washington, with Moon’s aspirations for a diplomatic legacy expiring.”
Moon, a liberal who has prioritized inter-Korean relations, called for an end to the Korean War without a peace deal as a way to resume nuclear disarmament talks between the North and the United States.
However, Moon, who is in office for a single term, faced popularity before the presidential election in March.
The war is expected to end in 2011 after a historic summit between Kim Jong Un and then-US President Donald Trump in Singapore.