Officials discuss North’s threats, response

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Officials discuss North’s threats, response

South Korea, Japan and the United States warned during a trilateral foreign ministerial meeting Tuesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly that the international community would impose additional sanctions on Pyongyang in the case of further armed provocations.

Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se held talks in New York with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida that focused on joint cooperation if North Korea were to fire a long-range rocket disguised as a satellite launch or conduct a fourth nuclear test around Oct. 10, the founding anniversary of the country’s Workers’ Party.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry said that the three diplomats expressed “deep concern” over North Korea’s hints of a possible missile launch and agreed that “further significant measures” will be taken if Pyongyang follows through with its provocations despite warnings, which would violate UN Security Council resolutions.

“While there are already a considerable number of sanctions [on North Korea], depending on additional provocative actions, there is still considerable room to bolster them,” Yun told reporters in New York on Tuesday after the meeting. “And in such a case, North Korea will not only face difficulties on an economic level but will become further isolated diplomatically.”

“The UN Security Council,” he said, “has begun working-level studies into measures that would be stronger than before,” which would surely inflict pain upon Pyongyang.

Yun emphasized that the meeting among the three nations - all members of the currently defunct six-party talks to denuclearize Pyongyang - as well as the summit last week between U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping “sent a clear and powerful message to North Korea.”

He added that in the case of aggression from Pyongyang, UN Security Council members and other related countries would “discuss many possibilities.”

“The DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] presents an ongoing security challenge to everybody,” Kerry said at the meeting.

The meeting Tuesday was the first involving Korea and Japan since the Japanese Diet passed controversial defense and security legislation last month that enables Tokyo to exercise its right to collective self-defense for the first time since the end of World War II.

The Korean Foreign Ministry said the three countries reconfirmed that Japan will proceed with the revised security bills in a transparent manner that will respect Korea’s sovereignty.

Yun will meet with Kishida separately on Wednesday, where this issue can be discussed in further detail. It is also expected to come up during a trilateral summit with the leaders of South Korea, Japan and China that is expected be held in Seoul as early as next month amid ongoing historical disputes.

On Tuesday, the Conference on Facilitating the Entry Into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) also declared in a strongly worded joint statement that, “We strongly deplore the nuclear tests conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 2006, 2009 and 2013.” It additionally expressed serious concern over its nuclear program.

The CTBT prohibiting a nuclear test, ratified by 164 countries, was adopted by the General Assembly in 1996, but for the treaty to enter into force, ratification is required from China, North Korea, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to depart for a six-day trip next week to Japan, South Korea and China starting Monday to discuss key political, economic, and security issues with government officials and non-government experts.

He last visited Northeast Asia nine months ago. His trip, which runs through Saturday, coincides with the 70th anniversary of the founding of the North Korean Workers’ Party on Oct. 10. He is expected to discuss possible provocations by North Korea and how to respond to them.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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