Senior officials from the United States, Japan and South Korea have agreed to step up pressure on North Korea to get it to abandon its nuclear and missile programs.
The three deputy foreign ministers meeting in Tokyo on Thursday made clear that North Korea now requires broader international pressure and tougher sanctions because it poses a new level of threat.
“We will not accept North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons, period,” US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters after meeting with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts.
Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama echoed Blinken’s comments. “We reaffirmed the necessity to increase pressure against North Korea to have it give up its nuclear and missile development and realize the denuclearization of the peninsula,” Sugiyama said.
China, North Korea’s lone major ally, and Russia have pushed for a resumption of six-party talks on denuclearization in North Korea. The talks, which also involve the United States, Japan and South Korea have been on hold since 2008.
North Korea conducted its fifth and biggest nuclear test on September 9, prompting the UN Security Council to announce that it would begin to prepare a fresh round of sanctions against Pyongyang in the wake of its recent nuclear test.
But despite sanctions and international pressure, Pyongyang has pledged to continue its nuclear program to protect itself from the threat posed by the presence of US forces in the region.
North Korea has been testing different types of missiles at an unprecedented rate this year, and the capability to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile is especially worrying for its neighbors South Korea and Japan, as well as the United States.