US special envoy for North Korea Sung Kim arrived in South Korea on April 18, two days after North Korea conducted its 13th new missile test this year. According to experts, the types of weapons North Korea has tested include missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads with the range to reach the US mainland and US allies such as South Korea and Japan. Observers also expressed concern that North Korea may soon conduct a new nuclear test to increase pressure to gain some concessions from the US and the West such as sanctions relief.
After discussing with his South Korean counterpart Noh Kyu-duk, US Special Representative for North Korea Sung Kim said the two sides had agreed to strongly respond to destabilizing behavior from the North. According to Sung Kim, the two sides also agreed on the need to maintain the strongest possible joint deterrence capability on the Korean Peninsula. Sung Kim stressed that the allies have not yet closed the door to a diplomatic solution with North Korea and do not intend to be hostile towards the country. Mr. Sung Kim also reiterated his previous statement that the US is ready to meet North Korea anywhere without conditions.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s representative, Noh Kyu-duk, said the two sides shared concerns that North Korea may continue to carry out activities that raise tensions in the region. Mr. Noh Kyu-duk also called on North Korea to return to dialogue.
North Korea announced on April 17 that it had tested a new type of tactical guided weapon. According to the Korean Central News Agency, the newly tested weapon has great significance in greatly improving the firepower of the long-range artillery units at the frontline as well as strengthening the operational efficiency of the country’s tactical nukes. Korea and diversify its combat missions.
Last month, North Korea also tested an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States, its first long-range weapon test since November 2017.
US-led diplomacy aimed at persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions in return for political and economic concessions has remained at an impasse since 2019.
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