North Korea test-fired two mid-range missiles as leaders from the U.S, Japan and South Korea held a press conference following a trilateral meeting at the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) yesterday in The Hague, Netherlands.
North Korea test-fired the two Rodong-type missiles off its east coast at 2:35 a.m. and 2:42 a.m. local time on Wednesday morning, just as President Barack Obama, President Park Geun-hye and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued post-trilateral meeting statements at 2:38 a.m. KST.
“I assume the timing was purposeful, just as several times in the past when the North Koreans timed provocations to coincide with the U.S. Independence Day and other celebrations. They seem to take delight in raining on the parade,” said Mark Fitzpatrick, Director of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Programme IISS London.
The three leaders had met for the first time on the sidelines of the NSS to discuss their concerns regarding North Korea’s continued efforts to develop nuclear weapons and to reaffirm their strategic coordination on the matter.
Following the meeting Obama reiterated their collective position that “a nuclear North Korea is unacceptable” and, unaware of the missile launch at the time, claimed that existing trilateral efforts had already proved fruitful.
“Over the last five years, close coordination between our three countries has succeeded in changing the game with North Korea,” Obama said.
The trilateral meeting was meant to show a consolidated effort to counter North Korea’s nuclear proliferation. Despite public disagreements between Japan and South Korea over territorial disputes and recognition of crimes committed during Japanese colonization of the Korean Peninsula, Park and Abe did present a unified front.
“I am so very happy to be able to see President Park Geun-hye,” Abe said, also urging North Korea to take a positive stance on not just nuclear issues but on reunions for families in North and South Korea separated by national division.
Park took the opportunity to say that North Korea taking steps to eliminate its nuclear program would act as a catalyst in solving other issues.
“Should North Korea embark on the path to denuclearization on the basis of sincerity, then there will be a way forward to address the difficulties confronting the North Korean people,” Park said.
The missile used is the longest-range missile launched by North Korea since December 2012 and, unlike North Korea’s multiple short-range missile launches earlier this year, constitutes a direct breach of United Nations Security Council sanctions preventing the use of ballistic missiles.
Picture: Korea Net, Flickr Creative Commons