Seoul urges China, Russia to prevent North Korean nuke test

SEOUL: A top South Korean official said on Monday that North Korea is increasingly targeting the South with its nuclear weapons program, and urges China and Russia convince North did not conduct a widely anticipated nuclear test. Unification Minister Kwon Youngse’s comments came after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un re-emphasized his nuclear ambitions during a key military meeting last week and approved operational missions. new unspecified for frontline army units.
Experts say North Korea may be planning to deploy nuclear weapons on the battlefield along its tense border with South Korea. During a long stalemate in nuclear diplomacy, North Korea has spent much of the past three years expanding its arsenal of short-range solid-fuel missiles capable of evading missile defenses. fire and attack targets throughout. south Koreaincluding US bases there.
US and South Korean officials say North Korea has completed preparations for its first nuclear test since September 2017, when it claimed to have detonated a thermonuclear warhead designed for the rocket. intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Analysts say North Korea could use its next nuclear test to claim that it has acquired the ability to build small nuclear warheads that can be placed on short-range missiles or weapons systems. other new that they have shown in recent months.
Kwon, who oversees South Korea’s relations with North Korea, said at a news conference that North Korea is exploiting a favorable environment to promote weapons development and reverse the status quo in the region as the West led by the US remains distracted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
He said North Korea’s nuclear ambitions pose a “very serious and fundamental threat” to South Korea and that Seoul is preparing severe countermeasures in response to a possible North Korean nuclear test. He didn’t make it clear.
“North Korea’s transition in weapons development from long-range ballistic missiles to short-range ballistic missiles, from strategic nuclear weapons to tactical nuclear weapons, is clearly aimed at Korea”.
“It’s clear that North Korea is simultaneously pursuing the ability to attack the United States and attack South Korea,” he said.
Kwon said North Korea could conduct a nuclear test “at any time”.
While the US government has vowed to pursue additional sanctions against North Korea if it conducts another nuclear test, the viability of meaningful new sanctions remains unclear. because Russia’s war in Ukraine has deepened divisions among the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. China and Russia have vetoed US-sponsored proposals to increase sanctions on North Korea over some of its recent ballistic missile tests.
Kwon, who served as South Korea’s ambassador to China from 2013 to 2015, expressed hope that Beijing and Moscow would respond differently to a North Korean nuclear test as both maintain their support for the North’s nuclear test. public support for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.
“If North Korea conducts a nuclear test at a time when the global security situation is as uncertain as it is now, the country will face huge criticism from international society and react,” Kwon said. It won’t be just words.
North Korea conducted more ballistic missile tests in the first half of 2022 than in any previous year, firing about 30 missiles, including its first ICBM tests in nearly five years. Kim has highlighted the tests by repeatedly commenting that North Korea will actively use nuclear weapons if threatened or provoked, which experts say is an escalation in nuclear doctrine. people of this country.
The US government has reaffirmed its commitment to protect allies South Korea and Japan with its full range of military capabilities, including nuclear, but there are concerns in Seoul that North Korea’s ICBMs could make Washington hesitate in the event of another war on the Korean Peninsula.
Experts say North Korea’s unusually heavy test this year underscores Kim’s intent to upgrade his arsenal and pressure the United States to accept North Korea as a nuclear power. , thereby strengthening its position in negotiating economic and security concessions.
Negotiations have been stalled since early 2019 over disagreements over the easing of US-led sanctions on North Korea in exchange for North Korean disarmament steps.

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