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US demands North Korea stop firing ‘unlawful and destabilizing’ missiles

North Korea chairman Kim Jong Un. (Kremlin/Released)
January 18, 2022

The United States called on North Korea to cease “unlawful and destabilizing” missile launches and instead engage in dialogue. North Korea test-fired two more ballistic missiles for the fourth time this month on Monday just days after threatening the United States with a “stronger and certain reaction” to sanctions.

Sung Kim, the U.S. Special Representative for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) – the formal name for North Korea – said he was concerned “about the DPRK’s missile launches, which violated multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions and were the latest in a series of ballistic missile launches by the DPRK this month,” according to a statement on Monday by State Department spokesman Ned Price.

Kim made the comments during a trilateral call to discuss the DPRK’s latest missile launches with Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General for Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Funakoshi Takehiro, and [Republic of Korea, the official name of South Korea] Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Noh Kyu-duk.

“In his call with Special Representative Noh and Director General Funakoshi, Special Representative Kim reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, as well as its ironclad commitment to the defense of its allies, the ROK and Japan,” Price’s statement said.

Kim’s remarks underscore “the United States’ continued openness to meeting the DPRK without preconditions,” the statement concluded.  

Last week, the U.S. State Department sanctioned eight individuals and entities linked to North Korea’s weapons programs. The U.S. also suggested that the U.N. Security Council impose new sanctions on North Korea.

“The U.S. is intentionally escalating the situation even with the activation of independent sanctions, not content with referring the D.P.R.K.’s just activity to the U.N. Security Council,” the North Korean foreign ministry said in a statement, according to the New York Times. “If the U.S. adopts such a confrontational stance, the D.P.R.K. will be forced to take stronger and certain reaction to it.”

Cheong Seong-Change from South Korea’s Sejong Institute said Friday’s launches reflected North Korea’s irritation with U.S. sanctions.

“Considering that North Korea has been testing new weapons at dawn or early morning, it’s reasonable to assume that North’s missile test launch this afternoon was improvised to showcase backlash against the U.S. sanctions,” he told ABC News.

Wang Wenbin, a spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said on Wednesday that sanctions only serve to make tensions worse in the Korean Peninsula.

“Willful sanctions do not help resolve the Korean Peninsula issue, but only worsen the confrontational mood,” Wenbin said.