UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council discussed North Korea’s latest ballistic missile tests Thursday and didn’t issue any statement but its five European members condemned the “provocative actions,” saying the test undermine regional and international peace, security and stability.
Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, who called for the closed-door meeting, said in a joint statement afterward that the March 1 tests undermine regional and international peace, security and stability and violate unanimous Security Council resolutions.
The Europeans again urged North Korea “to engage in good faith in meaningful negotiations with the United States aimed at denuclearization.”
Since the collapse of a second summit last year between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump, the North has resumed ballistic activity and weapons launches to expand its military capabilities. Kim started the new year vowing to bolster his nuclear deterrent in the face of “gangster-like” U.S. sanctions and pressure.
Christopher Ford, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, reiterated at a briefing Thursday that the Trump administration is “ready and willing and prepared” to start working-level discussions with North Korea aimed at implementing the commitments made at the first summit in Singapore “as soon as possible””
Kim made a vague pledge in Singapore to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the two leaders agreed to improve relations to build lasting peace. Their two subsequent summits and other lower-level meetings haven’t achieved much progress in fleshing out those agreements.
The five European nations called on Pyongyang “to take concrete steps to abandoning all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs … and to refrain from further provocations.”
South Korea’s military on Monday detected what appeared to be two short-range ballistic launches of projectiles that landed in the North’s eastern sea.
North Korea has conducted 14 sets of ballistic missile launches since May 2019.
The Europeans warned that “continued provocations risk undermining the prospect for successful negotiations.”
In previous years, North Korea has intensified testing activity in response to springtime military exercises between South Korea and the United States that it has described as invasion rehearsals.
But the allies announced last week that they were postponing their annual drills due to concern about the coronavirus outbreak in South Korea, with soldiers from both countries being infected.
The five European nations also urged all countries to strictly enforce sanctions against North Korea, saying it’s vital that the measures “remain in place.”
China and Russia have called for the easing of sanctions against North Korea to spur a resumption of talks between Pyongyang and Washington. But their joint resolution proposing some easing has languished in the Security Council because the U.S., its Western allies and other members want to see North Korean actions toward denuclearization before any measures are lifted.