The United States will focus on coordinating with partner countries in the region before negotiating with North Korea over dismantling its nuclear program, the U.S. special representative for North Korea said.
In a visit to Washington, South Korea’s president laid out a process for building trust on the Korean peninsula, an approach she said she hoped would be a step toward unification.
Following condemnations by the international community of North Korea’s December satellite launch and February nuclear test, Pyongyang unleashed a furious barrage of rhetorical threats in March and April against the United States and South Korea. Now, the hot air war of the early spring appears to be over, despite the exercise launch of six short-range missiles by North Korea off its east coast in recent days and the ongoing visit of a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group to South Korea.
Four years ago, President Barack Obama outlined an action plan to reduce nuclear weapons-related risks. Significant progress has been achieved but momentum has slowed, proliferation problems in North Korea and Iran persist, and the slow-moving arms race in South Asia continues.
North Korea announced its conditions for resuming negotiations over its nuclear program. U.S. officials called the terms unacceptable.
The UN Security Council on March 7 unanimously adopted a resolution imposing new sanctions on North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s third nuclear test.
Defying warnings from the international community, North Korea conducted its third nuclear test Feb. 12 at its underground testing site, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) announced. The blast prompted discussion of the need for a new policy toward North Korea, which had conducted a rocket launch two months earlier.
Last December, after two decades of development and four failed attempts since 1998, North Korea finally boosted a small satellite into orbit using a domestically assembled Unha-3 rocket. Although the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite failed to orient itself properly and never beamed signals to earth-based stations as designed, Pyongyang nonetheless heralded the launch as an epic national achievement.
North Korea’s third nuclear weapons test explosion, in defiance of its lone remaining ally, China, and the rest of the international community, should prompt a reappraisal of Beijing’s accommodating attitude toward its neighbor and rejuvenate U.S.-led diplomacy designed to freeze and reverse Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.