Seoul’s envoy to North Korea accused the country of becoming ‘more aggressive’ in weapons testing
The United States has agreed to work with Japan and South Korea on future sanctions against Pyongyang, a senior South Korean official has said, shortly after the US State Department said Washington “won’t hesitate” to blacklist anyone found aiding North Korea’s missile or nuclear programs.
Speaking after a trilateral summit with his American and Japanese counterparts at the US Embassy in Indonesia on Tuesday, Seoul’s envoy for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs Kim Gunn said the three allies would work more closely while devising new sanctions for the North.
“South Korea, Japan, and the United States will coordinate sanctions and close loopholes in the international sanctions regime against North Korea,” the official said, quoted by Reuters, adding that Pyongyang is “become more aggressive and blatant in its nuclear threat.”
Kim met with Washington’s North Korea envoy Sung Kim and senior Japanese foreign ministry official Takehiro Funakoshi and discussed “regional security” how to bring Pyongyang back to the negotiating table and how to react to a future nuclear test from the North, according to Yonhap.
The envoy’s comments came just hours after US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that the United States was “always on the lookout for individuals who should be punished” to help North Korea’s nuclear weapons or ballistic missile programs, adding “we will not hesitate to do so.”
North Korea has carried out a record number of weapons tests this year, many of them in direct retaliation for joint US-South Korean military exercises that the DPRK has repeatedly denounced as an invasion practice. Nevertheless, Washington, Seoul and Tokyo have sounded the alarm over the North’s missile launches, saying they undermine regional stability and increase the risk of conflict on the Korean peninsula.
On Monday, South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo claimed North Korea was preparing for another nuclear test, echoing similar warnings issued by US officials in recent months. Although Han admitted he couldn’t say “when exactly” the test would be carried out, the United States and South Korea have promised a harsh response if the North carries out a nuclear explosion, which would mark the country’s seventh test since its first successful one in 2006.
US sanctions senior North Korean officials