The United States, Japan and South Korea are working toward thwarting North Korea’s possible plans of conducting its sixth nuclear test this month. Seoul’s Ministry of National Defense said late Thursday that the country was making further moves to strengthen trilateral military partnerships with Washington and Tokyo to counter Pyongyang’s growing missile threats.
Officials from the three countries conducted a conference call late Thursday to discuss the Kim Jong Un regime’s test-firing of a possible KN-15 missile, also known as Pukguksong-2, which flew about 37 miles before hitting international waters with a maximum altitude of over 117 miles Wednesday.
Japan, U.S. and South Korea officials “strongly denounced” the provocation from North Korea in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions that ban the reclusive country from firing any ballistic missile, Seoul’s ministry said, according to Yonhap News Agency. Authorities also stressed that the North’s continuous nuclear advancement posed a serious threat to the peace and security of the peninsula and East Asia.
Brig. Gen. Park Chul-kyun, deputy director general for international policy at the South Korean ministry; Andrew Winternitz, U.S. acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia; and Koji Kano, director for defense policy at Japan’s defense ministry joined the conference call.
North Korea has continued its threat against the U.S. and South Korea despite several warnings from the international community. On Thursday, Pyongyang’s foreign ministry released a memorandum saying the U.S. should be totally accountable for a possible outbreak of war on the Korean Peninsula.
“The release of the memorandum appears to be aimed at bolstering internal solidarity and sending a message toward the outside world,” Lee Eugene, a South Korean ministry vice spokesperson, told a regular press briefing Thursday.
North Korea’s missile launch Wednesday came just days after it warned it will “mercilessly smash the enemy’s (South Korea and the U.S.) moves with its own style of special operation and preemptive attack” in retaliation to the joint drills by South Korea-U.S. special operations teams in Seoul. The annual military drills began March 1 and will continue through the end of next month.
“We think that North Korea is ready to carry out the sixth nuclear test at any time upon the leadership’s decision,” Lee said Thursday. “We are closely monitoring the situation in collaboration with the U.S.”
While discussion continues on ways to tackle North Korea’s upcoming nuclear and ballistic missile tests, South Korea test-fired a nearly 500-mile range ballistic missile capable of reaching anywhere in Pyongyang.