North Korea sees US talks invite as suspicious

North Korea says Washington is overreacting as Tuesday’s missile test was part of their routine defence plans.

Updated: October 21 2021, 8:17pm IST

Source: Reuters, Voice of America, The Washington Post

The United States sent multiple offers of talks to North Korean counterparts, after North Korea tested a new ballistic missile on Tuesday. But on Thursday, officials in Pyongyang said Washington was overreacting, and viewed their invitation to talks with scepticism.

“The United States has offered to meet North Korea without preconditions and made clear that Washington has no hostile intent toward Pyongyang”, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said on Wednesday at a Security Council meeting.

Tuesday’s submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) was the latest in a series of missile tests, showcasing North Korea’s bravado. Just last week, North Korea held a strange military exhibition, days before the South Korean biennial defence fair, where soldiers smashed their heads on wooden bars, and laid shirtless on broken glass. The launch also came a day after U.S. and South Korean officials met to discuss North Korea’s nuclear standoff.

“It is time to engage in sustained and substantive dialogue toward the goal of complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula,” Thomas-Greenfield told reporters ahead of a U.N. Security Council meeting over the North’s latest missile test.

North Korea, officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), has conducted nuclear tests since 2006 and has launch about 150 missiles over nearly forty years. The United Nations placed several rigid sanctions on the country in 2006, for its development of nuclear and other weapons. The sanctions limit imports and exports and call for an end to all nuclear and ballistic missile activity. But North Korea continues to show off its sophisticated weaponry.

Thomas-Greenfield urged all nations to fully implement these sanctions, “so that we can prevent the DPRK from accessing the funds, the technology, the know-how it needs to further develop unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.”

Map credit: Google maps

The UN panel monitoring the implementation of sanctions has previously stated that North Korea’s neighbours, China and Russia, have broken sanction rules.

On Thursday, an unnamed spokesperson for North Korea, said Tuesday’s test was part of normal mid-and long-term defence plans, and it was not targeted at a specific country.

“To criticise the DPRK for developing and test-firing the same weapon system as the one the U.S. possesses or is developing is a clear expression of double standards,” the spokesperson said in a statement carried by KCNA. “It only excites our suspicion about the ‘authenticity’ of its statement that it does not (want to) antagonize the DPRK.”

Image credit: North Korean news agency

European Union members, Ireland, France and Estonia, issued a separate statement condemning the SLBM, as it, “forms part of a pattern of provocations by the DPRK.” They also pushed for North Korea to accept the United States and South Korea’s offer to discuss the issue peacefully.

While South Korean officials try to negotiate with their northern counterparts, South Korean citizens have little to say about the issue. North Korean’s relatively frequent missile testing make the conflict ubiquitous.

Song Tae-ho, 76, a resident of Seoul, said, “they just test so often. I feel like we’ve become immune to this kind of news. We just don’t see it as a big deal.”

The younger generation, who don’t have as strong of a connection with the once unified peninsula, have seen these tensions flare up their entire life. “We just think about this as part of our normal life,” says Choi Jin-bong, a professor at Sungkonghoe University. “This is the situation between North and South Korea. We have tension between those two countries.”