South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said on Thursday that North Korea is “close to the final stage” of developing nuclear weapons and warned the international community that it would regret not stopping the North’s nuclear ambitions when it had the chance, the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said on Friday.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida held trilateral talks in the city of Bonn in Germany on the sidelines of a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Group of 20 (G20).
The trilateral foreign ministers’ meeting, the first of its kind since the inauguration of President Donald Trump, was aimed at discussing means to strengthen sanctions and pressure on the North with the view that the North’s nuclear program is a “direct and imminent threat” to the three countries.
Speaking at the trilateral foreign ministers’ meeting, Yun emphasized that the latest ballistic missile test brought the necessity to “take special measures” against the North Korean nuclear threat further into focus, arguing the North is “close to the final stage of developing nuclear weapons.”
“There is not much time left to prevent North Korea’s nuclear armament, and the entire international community will regret if it can’t block its nuclear ambitions,” a written statement carried by MOFA quoted Yun as saying.
“The international community should take united and strong measures against the North’s nuclear development [with an] urgency which is different from the past.”
North Korea is presumed to have launched a new type of solid-fuel intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, on Sunday.
“The Ministers condemned in the ‘strongest terms’ North Korea’s February 12, 2017 ballistic missile test,” a written joint statement said on Thursday, referring to Pukguksong-2.
Tillerson said in his opening speech that the meeting was “very meaningful” as a place to seek “joint strategy and way forward” to make the North walk on a path toward denuclearization, according to MOFA.
The three ministers urged the “complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement (CVID)” of the DPRK’s nuclear and ballistic missile program.
“The Ministers emphasized that North Korea must abandon its proscribed nuclear and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner,” according to a written joint statement released after the trilateral meeting.
Despite China not being mentioned in the joint statement, MOFA said the three foreign ministers shared the view that they would work to ensure China’s “constructive role in thoroughly implementing UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and putting sanctions and pressures to the North.”
“The Ministers noted that nations that border North Korea or are affected by the regime’s destabilizing behavior all urge North Korea to refrain from provocative actions,” the joint statement said, referring to China.
Chief envoys for the six-party talks from the U.S., the South and Japan are due to hold talks “in the near future” to discuss specific measures to cooperate, but the MOFA didn’t give a specific date.
TILLERSON AND YUN
Tillerson and Yun discussed the alleged murder of Kim Jong Nam, the now-deceased half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at bilateral talks held ahead of the trilateral ministers’ meeting.
“Both ministers shared views on the murder of Kim Jong Nam recently in Malaysia and agreed to closely cooperate while keeping close tabs on the developments that follow,” MOFA said in a statement.
The U.S. Secretary of State also reaffirmed his country’s “ironclad commitment” to defend South Korea with all its capabilities, such as the U.S. extended deterrence, nuclear deterrent, and conventional power in response to North Korean and nuclear threats.
Yun also voiced strong opposition to the North’s nuclear program during one-on-one talks.
“Minister Yun emphasized that the nuclear armament so-called ‘moment of truth’ is [coming soon] as the North is close to the final stage of the nuclear arsenal,” the statement carried by the MOFA said.
“[He] also said the entire international community will receive the North’s ‘nuclear blackmail’ if the North’s ‘dash to the nuclear weapons’ can’t be stopped.”
“REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT”
Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump cited the North as an example of one of several “really, really important subjects” at a news conference to announce his newest labor secretary pick on Thursday.
Arguing he “inherited a mess at home and abroad,” including the North and the Middle East, Trump discussed a series of leaks to the media related to the resignation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
“We were dealing on this case with Mike Flynn. All this information gets put into the Washington Post and gets put into the New York Times,” Trump told reporters.
“And I’m saying, what’s going to happen when I’m dealing on the Middle East? What’s going to happen when I’m dealing with really, really important subjects like North Korea? We’ve got to stop it.”
Featured Image: South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)
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