US, SKorea, Japan Urge NKorea Nuke Curb12/09 07:53
The national security advisers of the United States, South Korea and Japan
on Saturday called for a stronger international push to suppress North Korea's
development of nuclear weapons and missiles, its cybertheft activities and
alleged arms transfers to Russia.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- The national security advisers of the United
States, South Korea and Japan on Saturday called for a stronger international
push to suppress North Korea's development of nuclear weapons and missiles, its
cybertheft activities and alleged arms transfers to Russia.
The meeting in Seoul came as tensions on the Korean Peninsula are at their
highest in years, with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un accelerating the
expansion of his nuclear and missile program and flaunting an escalatory
nuclear doctrine that authorizes the preemptive use of nuclear weapons.
The United States and its Asian allies have responded by increasing the
visibility of their trilateral partnership in the region and strengthening
their combined military exercises, which Kim condemns as invasion rehearsals.
Washington, Seoul and Tokyo have also expressed concerns about a potential
arms alignment between North Korea and Russia. They worry Kim is providing
badly needed munitions to help Russian President Vladimir Putin wage war in
Ukraine in exchange for Russian technology assistance to upgrade his
Speaking after the meeting, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan
said Washington is working with Seoul and Tokyo to strengthen defense
cooperation and improve its response to North Korean missile testing and
space-launch activities, including a real-time information sharing arrangement
on North Korean missile launches that the countries plan to start at an
unspecified date in December.
He also said the countries have agreed to new initiatives to more
effectively respond to North Korean efforts to bypass U.S.-led international
sanctions that aim to choke off funds for its nuclear weapons and missile
"This will be a new effort with respect to cryptocurrency and money
laundering and how we disrupt North Korea's capacity to gain revenue from the
hacking and stealing of cryptocurrency and then laundering it through
exchanges," he said.
Sullivan declined to share detailed U.S. assessments on the types and volume
of North Korean arms being shipped to Russia and didn't comment on the
specifics of his discussions with South Korean and Japanese officials over the
issue, but insisted that "there's no daylight among us in terms of the types of
weapons transfers that we are seeing. And those continue and they represent a
grave concern for us."
South Korean intelligence and military officials have said North Korea may
have shipped more than a million artillery shells to Russia beginning in
August, weeks before Kim traveled to Russia's Far East for a rare summit with
Putin that sparked international concerns about a potential arms deal. Both
Moscow and Pyongyang have denied U.S. and South Korean claims.
In a joint news conference after Saturday's trilateral meeting, Cho
Tae-yong, South Korea's national security office director, said the three
security advisers reaffirmed North Korea's obligations under multiple U.N.
Security Council resolutions that call for its denuclearization and ban any
weapons trade with other countries, and agreed to strengthen coordination to
ensure that is implemented.
Takeo Akiba, Japan's national security secretariat secretary general, said
the "unprecedented frequency and patterns" of North Korean ballistic missile
launches necessitate a deeper and more effective partnership between
Washington, Seoul and Tokyo.
South Korea, the U.S., Japan and Australia have also announced their own
sanctions on North Korea over its spy satellite launch last month. North Korea
argues it the right to launch spy satellites to monitor U.S. and South Korean
military activities and enhance the threat of its nuclear-capable missiles.
During his conversation with reporters, Sullivan said the allies are
preparing for the possibility that North Korea will up the ante of its weapons
demonstrations and threats in 2024, possibly including the country's seventh
Direct military action is also a concern after the North recently announced
it was abandoning a 2018 inter-Korean military agreement on reducing border
tensions after the South partially suspended the agreement, which had
established border buffers and no-fly zones. Some experts say that has raised
the risk of border-area shootings or clashes.
"Look, when a country announces its intent to walk away from a set of
measures that are designed to help reduce risk and increase stability, our
concern for potential incidents, provocations has to go up," Sullivan said,
though he said the full implications of the North's announcement is not
Sullivan held separate bilateral talks Friday with Cho and Akiba and also
met with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.
The U.S., South Korean and Japanese national security advisers last held a
trilateral meeting in June in Tokyo.
South Korean intelligence officials have said the Russians likely provided
technology support for North Korea's successful satellite launch in November,
which followed two failed launches.
North Korea has said its spy satellite transmitted imagery with space views
of key sites in the U.S. and South Korea, including the White House and the
Pentagon. But it hasn't released any of those satellite photos. Many outside
experts question whether the North's satellite is sophisticated enough to send
militarily useful high-resolution imagery.
Kim has vowed to launch more satellites, saying his military needs to
acquire space-based reconnaissance capabilities.
South Korean officials have also said North Korea-made rocket-propelled
grenades and other weapons could have been used by Hamas during its Oct. 7
assault on Israel and that the North could be considering selling weapons to
militant groups in the Middle East.
Sullivan said that the United States has not seen any specific evidence of
that, but remains vigilant about the possibility.
"I think given North Korea's history of proliferation activities, including
to reprehensible actors in other contexts across history, it's a legitimate
concern," he said.