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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 
nuclear-armed military.

   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 
nuclear test.

   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 
immediately clear.

   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.

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