Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - North Korea missiles test new US regime



North Korea missiles test new US regime

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Replicas of a North Korean Scud-B missile (left) and South Korea’s Nike missiles (right) are displayed at the Korean War Memorial in Seoul on Wednesday. AFP

North Korea missiles test new US regime

North Korea fired several missiles just days after a visit to the region by the top US defence and diplomatic officials, the White House said on March 23, in Pyongyang’s first overt challenge to the Biden administration.

But administration officials, speaking anonymously, downplayed the missiles as “common” military testing and said they would not block Washington’s efforts to engage with North Korea on denuclearisation.

Two missiles were fired on March 21, they confirmed, echoing Pyongyang’s past practices for provoking and testing both Washington and Seoul.

But they were short-range, non-ballistic missile systems that do not fall under UN security council resolutions banning more threatening weapons, a senior US administration official told reporters.

It was nothing like the nuclear weapon tests or ballistic missile launches that Pyongyang has used to provoke previous US governments, the official said, adding: “What we saw this weekend does not fall in that category . . . It is common practice for North Korea to test various systems . . . We do not respond to every kind of test.”

Reigniting talks

The launches came just days after US top diplomat Antony Blinken and defence chief Lloyd Austin visited Japan and South Korea to discuss their alliance and security issues in the region, with nuclear-armed North Korea seen as a central threat.

Their visit also followed March 8-17 joint exercises by US and South Korean defence forces.

While Blinken and Austin were in Seoul on March 18, North Korean first vice-foreign minister Choe Son-hui accused the US of a “lunatic theory of ‘threat from North Korea’ and groundless rhetoric about ‘complete denuclearisation’”.

President Joe Biden’s two-month-old administration hopes to reignite negotiations with the Kim Jong-un regime on its nuclear arsenal after efforts by the previous regime of Donald Trump stalled.

Initial outreach from Washington to Pyongyang has turned up empty, but US officials are hopeful they can reconnect, while working in coordination with allies Japan and South Korea.

Trump met with Kim twice, in Singapore and Vietnam, with both sides heralding a breakthrough in relations.

But even as the US pulled back on some joint training activities with South Korea’s military and the North froze ballistic missile tests, after the February 2019 Trump-Kim Hanoi summit communications between the two sides dried up.

Biden officials are now finalising a strategy to restart talks that the White House will discuss with Japanese and South Korean security officials next week, the administration official said.

“We have taken efforts and we will continue to take efforts” to communicate, the official said.

But the official added that Pyongyang cannot expect concessions – such as cutting back on bilateral military exercises – from Biden.

“The hope of diplomacy really rests on the reality of deterrence and our forward-deployed capabilities,” the official said.

“So we thought that some of the efforts that were taken previously to turn off necessary exercises were actually antithetical to our position.”

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • Nestle’s debut may spur dairy market

    Leading confectionery manufacturer Nestle plans to invest in Cambodia by setting up an operation in the near future, a move majorly hailed by local dairy farmers as a means of boosting the fresh milk market in the Kingdom. During a visit by a delegation led