Pyongyang is ignoring U.S. overtures for talks and may be planning its first nuclear weapon test in nearly five years for its April 15 vacation, the State Department’s top envoy to North Korea has said.
Sung Kim, the special representative for North Korean policy, said Washington believes Pyongyang could be planning a big show of its growing nuclear weapons capacity during next week’s annual holiday, which will celebrate the 110th anniversary of the birth. of Kim Il-sung, who founded the modern Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
“We fear that in connection with the upcoming April 15 anniversary, the DPRK may be tempted to take another provocative action,” Kim told reporters on Wednesday, referring to North Korea’s recent ballistic missile launches.
“I don’t want to speculate too much, but I think it could be another missile launch, it could be a nuclear test,” he said.
North Korea has tested nuclear weapons several times since 2006, and its last test was in 2017.
Pyongyang has continued to ignore overtures from Washington to resume talks on removing all nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula, Kim said.
“We haven’t received any response from Pyongyang, which is very disappointing, as we have sent several messages, public and private, inviting them for dialogue without any conditions,” he said.
“Instead, they launched a series of missile tests which recently resulted in at least three ICBM launches. These actions pose a serious threat to regional stability.
Kim also said China and Russia were not helping President Joe Biden’s efforts to restart talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Talks aimed at containing the nuclear threat from Pyongyang appeared to gain ground under the previous US administration of Donald Trump, but then stalled.
After Biden took office, North Korea began a series of missile tests, 13 in total, culminating last month in the testing of a ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead in the is from the United States.
The tests alarmed North Korea’s immediate neighbors South Korea and Japan.
On Tuesday, Kim Jong-un’s powerful sister Kim Yo-jong warned that Pyongyang would use its nuclear weapons to “wipe out” South Korea’s military in case it launches a preemptive strike.
Sung Kim said Washington was pushing for a new resolution condemning Pyongyang’s actions at the UN Security Council.
But he noted that in six previous efforts this year, Russia and China “constantly blocked our efforts to produce a public UN statement.”