Bolton Says North Korea Missile Tests Broke U.N. Ban (#GotBitcoin?)
The U.S. national security adviser says the president’s visit to Japan will include discussions on how ensure integrity of U.N. resolutions. Bolton Says North Korea Missile Tests Broke U.N. Ban (#GotBitcoin?)
North Korea violated United Nations’ restrictions by testing ballistic missiles recently, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said, breaking with an effort by the Trump administration to play down the launches as it tries to kick-start diplomacy with Pyongyang.
North Korea test-fired short-range missiles on May 4 and 9, including missiles similar to the Russian-built Iskander, which travel on high-altitude ballistic paths and can carry nuclear warheads.
In the wake of the tests, President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo emphasized talks with North Korea despite the missile launches appearing to violate a U.N. ban on the country conducting any ballistic missile tests. Following the May 4 test, Mr. Trump tweeted about his friendship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his expectation for a negotiated agreement to end their nuclear standoff.
Mr. Bolton said the launches clearly included weapons that North Korea is banned from testing by the U.N.
“In terms of violating U.N. Security Council resolutions, there’s no doubt about that,” Mr. Bolton said in a meeting Saturday with a group of reporters.
Mr. Bolton arrived in Japan ahead of Mr. Trump, who landed in Tokyo Saturday evening to start a four-day state visit.
Mr. Trump said Sunday that he isn’t bothered by the “small weapons” fired off by North Korea, in contrast to Mr. Bolton’s comments a day earlier.
Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter early Sunday in Tokyo, “North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me. I have confidence that Chairman Kim will keep his promise to me, & also smiled when he called Swampman Joe Biden a low IQ individual, & worse. Perhaps that’s sending me a signal?”
Mr. Bolton said Mr. Trump would discuss with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his visit ways to ensure the integrity of U.N. resolutions. In previous North Korean ballistic missile tests, mainly of large weapons, the U.N. Security Council has issued a condemnation or imposed additional sanctions on the country.
Mr. Bolton also said North Korea hasn’t responded to attempts by the U.S. to resume diplomacy after the collapse of a summit meeting in Hanoi in February. U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun hasn’t had any contact with his counterparts, Mr. Bolton said.
“He’s ready to get on a plane and go anywhere to talk to them,” Mr. Bolton said.
The U.S. is supportive of a push by Mr. Abe to try to arrange a summit meeting with Mr. Kim as a possible way forward to restart dialogue, he added. In recent weeks, Mr. Abe said he was willing to meet Mr. Kim without any preconditions, although there has been no indication North Korea is interested in a meeting.
In addition to raising Japan’s concerns about North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, Mr. Abe wants the return of any survivors from about a dozen Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s. North Korea has said they are all dead.
Mr. Trump is set to meet the families of the abductees during his stay in Japan and discuss with Mr. Abe approaches to tackling the North Korean missile and nuclear threat.
A meeting between Mr. Abe and Mr. Kim “could bring substantial assistance to that effort,” Mr. Bolton said.
Mr. Trump told Japanese business leaders that he also wanted to address the U.S. trade deficit with Japan during his stay and ensure “fairness and reciprocity in our relationship.”
Trump Says Recent North Korean Missile Tests Don’t Bother Him
President says he doesn’t think they violate U.N. resolutions, acknowledges disagreement with advisers.
President Trump said he wasn’t bothered by North Korea’s latest round of missile tests and the U.S. wasn’t seeking regime change in Iran, striking conciliatory notes on the two nations’ nuclear programs as he wrapped up his second trip to Japan since taking office.
In a joint press conference Monday alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Mr. Trump said he didn’t think Pyongyang’s recent launches were a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions while acknowledging disagreement with his advisers over the matter.
“My people think it could have been a violation, as you know. I view it differently,” Mr. Trump said, characterizing the tests as possibly an effort by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to get attention. That contradicted the stance of national security adviser John Bolton, who on Saturday said the launches, most recently on May 9, included weapons that North Korea is banned from testing.
Mr. Abe, in his comments, said the tests violated the Security Council resolution and called them “extremely regrettable.” After a moment’s hesitation, the Japanese leader pivoted to praising the president’s outreach to Mr. Kim on denuclearization, which has focused on developing a personal rapport and emphasizing North Korea’s economic potential.
On Saturday Mr. Bolton said North Korea hasn’t responded to attempts by the U.S. to resume diplomacy after the collapse of a summit meeting in Hanoi in February. U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun hasn’t had any contact with his counterparts, Mr. Bolton said.
Despite their opposing views on the tests, Mr. Trump told reporters he still has confidence in Mr. Bolton. Asked earlier this month if he was happy with the counsel he was getting, Mr. Trump said while Mr. Bolton has “strong views,” he tempers Mr. Bolton’s advice with that of people who “are a little more dovish” before making a decision.
Mr. Trump was also asked Monday about a tweet in which he said he agreed with North Korean state-media criticism of former Vice President Joe Biden, who is a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. Asked whether he was willing to side with a dictator against a fellow American, Mr. Trump said: “Kim Jong Un made a statement that Joe Biden is a low-IQ individual based on his record…I think I agree with him on that.”
A Biden campaign spokesman declined to comment Monday. In a statement last week, the campaign said: “Given Vice President Biden’s record of standing up for American values and interests, it’s no surprise that North Korea would prefer that Donald Trump remain in the White House.”
Messrs. Trump and Abe held talks on a range of issues, including trade and national security. The meetings were part of the president’s four-day visit to meet Japan’s newly enthroned Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako.
North Korea’s Demands Throw Cold Water On Denuclearization Talks
State Department maintains U.S. presented creative ideas and was eager to continue.
North Korea accused Washington of misleading the public by calling just-revived disarmament talks productive and for suggesting the two sides could meet again this month.
Pyongyang reiterated a warning to Washington to adopt a new negotiating stance by year’s end, state-media reported on Sunday. If the U.S. sticks with the same approach, relations between the two countries “may immediately come to an end,” according to a statement attributed to an unnamed foreign-ministry spokesperson.
“We have no intention to hold such sickening negotiations as what happened this time before the U.S. takes a substantial step,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying.
North Korea often makes exaggerated claims in state media, particularly in reaction to U.S. policies and senior Washington officials. But based on prior behavior, the Kim regime’s abrupt pullout from the Stockholm talks, and subsequent angry comments, don’t mean Pyongyang will halt diplomacy for long. The North often reverses its dismissals, sometimes within days, close Pyongyang watchers say.
Pyongyang’s fiery remarks come a day after the U.S. and North Korea gave conflicting remarks about their eight-hour meeting in Stockholm. It was the first working-level meeting between the two countries since the February summit in Hanoi between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
To Pyongyang, the meeting “failed to live up to our expectations and broke down,” Kim Myong Gil, the chief North Korea negotiator, told reporters on Saturday after the meeting.
But Washington was more sanguine. The State Department said the U.S. had presented creative ideas for making progress and emphasized that it was eager to continue the talks in two weeks.
The North Koreans didn’t commit to another negotiating session. In the Sunday state-media report, the North said the U.S. suggestion about another meeting in two weeks is “spreading a completely ungrounded story.”
Breaking the negotiating logjam wasn’t expected to be easy. As the two sides prepared for those working-level talks, they were far apart on the pace and scope of efforts to strip North Korea of its nuclear arsenal and long-range missiles. Nor did they share a common definition of what it would mean to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.
Mr. Trump, however, raised expectations that headway might be made at the working level by declaring in September he was considering a new method for pursuing denuclearization. The departure of John Bolton, a noted hard-liner on North Korea, as Mr. Trump’s national-security adviser also spurred speculation that the administration might demonstrate a new flexibility.
The Kim regime had anticipated that Saturday’s talks could reveal a different U.S. approach to talks—the type of shift that Mr. Kim, in a rare April policy speech, demanded Washington make before year’s end or risk facing a gloomy outlook.
The State Department on Saturday said the U.S. delegation had previewed a number of new initiatives that had led to good discussions in Stockholm. The department didn’t say what those ideas were but stressed it wanted to keep talking, adding that seven decades of hostility couldn’t be overcome “through the course of a single Saturday.”
“These are weighty issues, and they require a strong commitment by both countries,” the State Department said. “The United States has that commitment.”
But the North’s optimism was dimmed after the Stockholm meeting, with its expectations turning out to be “no better than an empty hope,” according to the Sunday state-media report.
The U.S. risks looking too overzealous for a deal, given the State Department’s statement leaving the door open for future talks, said Soo Kim, a North Korean expert at policy think tank Rand Corp. and a former Central Intelligence Agency analyst.
“It’s effectively signaled Washington’s hand-wringing anxiety to prolong this tug of war to the North Koreans,” Ms. Kim said. “There’s effectively no clever or proportionate deal in the current negotiating construct.”
For more than a decade, North Korea repeatedly stomped away from talks, hoping to gain tactical advantages by creating a crisis and playing hard-to-get, close Pyongyang watchers say. The North’s aim is to extract more concessions by raising its perceived threat level and then offering to cool down in exchange for rewards, said Lee Sung-yoon, a Korea expert at Tufts University’s Fletcher School.
For now, the U.S. finds itself reacting to the North’s provocations and appears more energized than Pyongyang about brokering a deal. “While Americans are overly eager to ‘get a deal done,’ North Koreans take their time and keep raising the stakes,” Mr. Lee said. “North Korea has the upper hand at this time.”
One issue that divided the two sides at the Hanoi summit concerned the initial steps Pyongyang should take to constrain its nuclear program and what it should receive in return.
At the Hanoi meeting, the North signaled its willingness to shut down its nuclear complex at the Yongbyon facility, which has been the centerpiece of its nuclear program since the 1960s, in return for major sanctions relief.
But U.S. officials said at the time that any initial steps by the North should also include an across-the-board freeze of the production of fissile material at North Korea’s clandestine facilities outside that complex.
The U.S. also has insisted publicly that any agreement shouldn’t merely freeze the North’s nuclear efforts but should include a commitment by Pyongyang to eliminate its nuclear weapons and programs. Major sanctions relief shouldn’t begin, the U.S. has said, until the dismantlement of those nuclear programs is under way.
Both sides are under pressure to avoid the “same mistake they made in Hanoi” by not brokering the core nuclear deal before the two countries’ leaders met behind closed doors, said Jean H. Lee, director of the Korea program at the Wilson Center, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington.
The breakdown in Stockholm could also serve as justification for an angry Kim regime to conduct even more weapon tests, North Korean experts say. Pyongyang has conducted a dozen weapons tests this year.
The most recent launch was on Wednesday, when North Korea test fired a sea-based ballistic missile—a move that was widely seen as an attempt to build up its negotiating leverage.
North Korea Conducts Second Test At Long-Range Missile Site In A Week
Pyongyang describes the test as a ‘research success’ that will bolster its nuclear arsenal.
North Korea conducted a test at a missile launch site on Friday, the regime said, in a bid to pressure Washington to offer substantial concessions in stalled denuclearization talks.
North Korea didn’t disclose details on its second test at the Sohae satellite base in a week, but said the move was a “research success” that would help bolster the country’s nuclear arsenal, according to a government statement conveyed by Pyongyang’s state media.
The Sohae facility is located on the country’s west coast and has served as a site for developing long-range missiles that can carry nuclear warheads.
North Korea watchers say it is likely the regime has been testing engines for its long-range missiles, which Pyongyang has said are capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.
The U.S. and South Korea expressed concerns over North Korea’s recent tests.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters this week that he hoped North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would uphold his vows to refrain from testing nuclear warheads and long-range missiles, and pursue denuclearization. South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo urged Pyongyang to discontinue weapons tests during a visit to Australia this week.
Pyongyang has been ratcheting up its rhetoric against Washington in recent months, accusing the U.S. of implementing a “hostile policy” against it. North Korea has suggested it would abandon nuclear talks at the end of the year if the U.S. doesn’t offer it adequate concessions.
American and South Korean diplomats though appear eager to keep the window of diplomacy open—a process that began in early 2018 and culminated into two unprecedented U.S.-North Korea summits, following a year of heightened tensions between the U.S. and North Korea.
Stephen Biegun, Washington’s special envoy for North Korea affairs, is scheduled to arrive in South Korea on Sunday for a three-day visit aimed at injecting momentum into stalled nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang.
North Korea Fires Two Apparent Missiles in Its First Test This Year
Pyongyang launched two missiles into the waters between South Korea and Japan.
North Korea fired two apparent missiles off its east coast Monday in its first weapons launch of the year, ending months of inactivity amid a diplomatic stall with the U.S. and a national lockdown over coronavirus fears.
Pyongyang test-fired the projectiles from a site near the city of Wonsan and into the waters between South Korea and Japan, according to Seoul’s military. They launched at 12:37 p.m. local time, soaring about 22 miles high and covering a distance of some 150 miles.
The projectiles didn’t fly as high or as far as many of those observed during a spree of tests last year. The South Korean military said the two projectiles were most likely short-range ballistic missiles.
Officials in Seoul believe the weapons test is linked to a military drill recently overseen by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. In that drill, he judged the “mobility and the fire power strike ability” of the country’s defense units, the North’s state media reported Saturday. Pyongyang didn’t have immediate comment on Monday’s launch.
The latest test may have been done more for as a show of strength for North Koreans than to send a message to Washington or Seoul, close Pyongyang watchers say, as the North considers allowing in foreign aid to fight the coronavirus epidemic.
Bordering China, where the epidemic began and the largest outbreak has taken place, and South Korea, where the next-most severe outbreak has occurred, the Kim regime needs foreign assistance to help diagnose and treat any large spread of the highly contagious virus due to its poor health infrastructure, medical experts say.
Pyongyang has yet to report a single case of coronavirus, though state media in the past week has reported that thousands are being closely monitored. Nearly 400 foreigners are being quarantined. Mr. Kim, in a weekend Politburo meeting, warned of “serious consequences” if there is a widespread outbreak.
Monday’s apparent missile test could be a message to North Koreans that the country maintains a powerful military, as it relents on allowing in international aid groups, said Park Won-gon, a North Korean expert at South Korea’s Handong Global University.
“Kim Jong Un has no choice but to open their society to outside help,” Mr. Park said.
On Feb. 13, the State Department said it was “deeply concerned” about the North’s vulnerability to coronavirus, adding it would “expeditiously facilitate” relief groups. At least one humanitarian organization, Doctors Without Borders, has since gained United Nations exemptions to deliver testing kits and other medical materials.
South Korea’s unification ministry said Monday it would expand efforts to broaden health-care collaboration with North Korea. In a national address the prior day, South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for broader inter-Korean cooperation, saying the lives of Koreans “will be safer” when the two countries can respond together.
The North’s last weapons test came on Dec. 13, when it conducted a ground test that South Korean military experts believed was a practice run for a rocket engine used in intercontinental ballistic missiles. Its most recent missile launch before Monday occurred on Nov. 28.
Some Trump administration officials expressed alarm late last year after the North made a threat to give the U.S. an unspecified “Christmas gift.” But Pyongyang remained quiet. In January, Mr. Kim said in a published policy speech that he no longer felt bound to a moratorium on long-range weapons tests, though he left the door open to talks. He also promised to soon reveal a new strategic weapon without offering specifics.
President Trump and other senior administration officials have pointed to the absence of ICBM launches or nuclear tests as a sign that their approach to the isolated regime is working. The two sides haven’t held formal denuclearization negotiations since October, when the North abruptly broke off talks.
Washington and Seoul last week delayed a scheduled joint military drill as the coronavirus epidemic spread across South Korea.
North Korea has been on virtual lockdown as the coronavirus rips across neighboring China and South Korea. The North’s poor health infrastructure has many medical experts worried that an outbreak there would be severe.
Monday’s weapons launch “suggests that the Kim regime wants to demonstrate strength in the face of a worsening coronavirus outbreak and to demand concessions before the U.S. presidential election,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.
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