North Korea’s moves threaten peace - GulfToday

North Korea’s moves threaten peace


Kim Jong-Un inspects a militarized site. File

The rising tension between North Korea and the US has rung alarm bells. There are fears that North Korea could launch a rocket or missile as it seeks concessions in stalled nuclear negotiations with the United States.

North Korea has warned that what “Christmas gift” it gives the US depends on what action Washington takes.

This has prompted Chinese President Xi Jinping to urge the two nations to maintain the momentum for talks.

“There are many people concerned about the tense situation on the Korean peninsula,” Xi told South Korean President Moon Jae-in during a summit in Beijing.

A new satellite image of a factory where North Korea makes military equipment used to launch long-range missiles shows the construction of a new structure.

One of the satellite images taken on Dec.19 shows the completion of a new structure at the March 16 Factory near Pyongyang, where North Korea is believed to be developing and manufacturing vehicles used as mobile launchers for long-range ballistic missiles.

North Korea has carried out six nuclear tests between 2006 and 2017. In 2017, Pyongyang claimed it had become a nuclear state, capable of fitting a viable nuclear weapon on an ICBM that could reach as far as the United States’ eastern seaboard. In response, the UN Security Council had to clamp down on North Korea’s main exports — coal and other mineral resources, fisheries and textile products — to cut off its access to hard currency.

North Korea has set a year-end deadline for the United States to change what it says is a policy of hostility amid a stalemate in efforts to make progress on their pledge to end the North’s nuclear programme and establish lasting peace.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump have met three times since June 2018, but there has been no major headway in dialogue. North Korea has demanded that the harsh international sanctions be lifted first.

On Saturday, state media said the United States would “pay dearly” for taking issue with the North’s human rights record and said Washington’s “malicious words” would only aggravate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

China is North Korea’s most important diplomatic backer and trading partner, and Moon took his message about the significance of talks straight to Xi.

China and South Korea both advocate that the Korean peninsula issue be resolved through dialogue and are a “firm force for maintaining stability and promoting talks”.

Though various economic matters will also be on the agenda – apart from tensions between Seoul and Tokyo – North Korea appears likely to dominate discussions.

US special envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun met two senior Chinese diplomats during his two-day visit to Beijing last week, following a similar meeting in South Korea and Japan days earlier, as diplomats make last-ditch moves to prevent a new confrontation.

Beijing, jointly with Russia, had suggested the United Nations Security Council lift some sanctions in what it calls an attempt to break the current deadlock.

For its part, Japan has historically been a strong supporter of sanctions against North Korea.

Japan considers easing sanctions on North Korea “still premature”, Okada said.

It’s unclear whether Beijing can convince Seoul and Tokyo to break ranks from Washington, which has made its opposition clear and can veto any resolution.

Though South Korea sees China as instrumental in reviving negotiations, it has so far sidestepped questions on whether it supports the new proposal by Beijing and Moscow.

One has to wait and see how events turn out. The increasing tension could lead not only the Korean region, but also the entire world on a risky path.

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