Senior military officials from the US and its Asian allies, Japan and South Korea, have warned North Korea against “irresponsible provocations,” urging Pyongyang to abandon the “destructive” path of weapons development.
In a trilateral meeting at the US Pacific Command headquarters in Hawaii, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford hosted his South Korean and Japanese counterparts to discuss Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear tests on Sunday.
“Together, they called upon North Korea to refrain from irresponsible provocations that aggravate regional tensions, and to walk away from its destructive and reckless path of development,” the US military said in a statement.
The meeting was held one day after US Secretary of Defense James Mattis voiced unequivocal support for its Asian allies and threatened the North with “massive” military action in case it used nuclear weapons.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula have seen a sharp hike over the past months over a flurry of North Korean ballistic missile launches and its most powerful nuclear test in September.
Pyongyang has been met with international condemnations and sanctions over such tests, but says it will not cease the development of its military program as a deterrent against the hostile policies of Washington and its regional allies, including South Korea and Japan.
NATO chief dubs North ‘a global threat’
Meanwhile, Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Jens Stoltenberg, who is on a visit to Japan, warned that most of Europe as well as the west coast of the United States are already in the range of North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Speaking to a group of security experts and defense officials in the Japanese capital, Tokyo on Monday, Stoltenberg said, “We are as concerned as you are about the provocative, reckless behavior from North Korea.”
Calling Pyongyang a “global threat,” the NATO chief said he strongly supports “political, diplomatic, economic pressure on North Korea.”
He also called for tighter UN Security Council sanctions, the latest round of which was adopted last month in response to Pyongyang’s hydrogen bomb test.
Stoltenberg is due to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other senior officials including Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera later in the day.
South Korea, China to hold talks on North Korea.
Elsewhere across the continent, another meeting is expected to be held with regard to North Korea’s nuclear weapons on Tuesday.
Lee Do-hoon, South Korea’s representative for six-party nuclear talks, will meet with his Chinese counterpart Kong Xuanyou, in the capital, Beijing, according to South Korea’s Foreign Ministry.
The officials are scheduled to discuss ways to cooperate in managing the situation in a stable manner, according to the statement. The meeting is considered as an extension of the recent meetings between nuclear envoys from South Korea, the US and Japan in Hawaii.
The six-party process, which was launched in 2003, is aimed at finding a solution to North Korea’s nuclear issue. The participating states are South Korea, Japan, China, North Korea, United States and Russia.