NSC spokesperson: Kim Jong-un REJECTED Washington's proposal for talks

NSC spokesperson John Kirby says Kim Jong-un has REJECTED Washington’s proposal for talks without preconditions after seventh North Korea missile launch in just two weeks

  • NSC Spokesman John Kirby said Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has rebuffed Washington’s call for talks without ‘preconditions’ 
  • North Korea conducted seven missile test launches in just two weeks time  
  • ‘He’s clearly not abandoned his nuclear weapons ambitions,’ Kirby told ABC

Kim Jong-un has refused to come to the negotiation table with the U.S. despite Washington offering talks with no preconditions, according to the National Security Council.

The offer comes as North Korea continues to up tensions, conducting seven ballistic missile launches in just two weeks.

‘We are willing to sit down with them without preconditions,’ NSC Spokesperson John Kirby told ABC News’ This Week host Martha Raddatz on Sunday.

‘Mr. Kim Jong Un has decided not to take us up on that offer,’ he added.

North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the sea early Sunday, South Korea’s military said just hours after a nuclear-powered U.S. aircraft carrier concluded joint drills off the Korean peninsula.

Seoul, Tokyo and Washington have ramped up combined naval exercises in recent weeks, infuriating Pyongyang which sees them as rehearsals for invasion and uses as justification for its blitz of missile launches as necessary ‘countermeasures’.

NSC Spokesman John Kirby said Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has rebuffed Washington’s call for talks without ‘preconditions’ as he continues to conduct missile tests

North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the sea early Sunday, Seoul’s military said, the seventh such launch in just two weeks time

With talks long stalled, Pyongyang has doubled down on its banned weapons programs, firing an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan last week, with officials and analysts warning it has completed preparations for another nuclear test.

The U.S. has sought to bolster relations in Asia as tensions rise with North Korea and China.

Kirby said that while the North Korean leader has rebuffed Washington’s calls for talks, he has instead chosen to ‘improve’ his ballistic missile program.

‘He’s clearly not abandoned his nuclear weapons ambitions,’ Kirby told ABC News.

‘We’re going to make sure that we have the capabilities in place to defend our national security interest if it comes to that. But there’s no reason for it to come to that,’ he said, adding the United States was committed to ‘a diplomatic path forward’.

Pyongyang conducted missile launch tests during Vice President Kamala Harris four-day trip through Asia last month, which included a stop in South Korea and a tour of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

A photo released by South Korea’s Defense Ministry shows a missile being fired from an undisclosed location on the country’s east coast

During remarks at the conclusion of her visit to the DMZ on September 29, Vice President Kamala Harris touted the alliance the U.S. has with ‘the Republican North Korea’ – an embarrassing gaffe as Pyongyang launched missiles during her four-day trip to Asia

South Korea’s military said Sunday it had ‘detected two short-range ballistic missiles between 0148 and 0158 (1648-1658 GMT) fired from the Munchon area in Kangwon province towards the East Sea’, also known as the Sea of Japan.

The missiles ‘flew approximately 350 217 miles’, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement, calling the launches a ‘serious provocation’.

Tokyo also confirmed the launches, with the coast guard saying the missiles had landed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

Japanese senior vice defense minister Toshiro Ino said Tokyo was analyzing the missiles, adding that ‘either one of them has the possibility of being a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM)’. 

Seoul said last month it had detected signs the North was preparing to fire an SLBM, a weapon Pyongyang last tested in May.

– Drills, drills, drills –

North Korea’s missile tests usually aim to develop new capabilities, but its recent launches, ‘from different locations at different times of day, may be intended to demonstrate military readiness’, said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.

‘The Kim regime is trying to coerce Seoul, Tokyo and Washington to abandon their trilateral security cooperation.’

At an emergency meeting of Seoul’s National Security Council following the missile test, however, South Korean officials vowed to strengthen that cooperation, according to a statement.

The recent spate of launches is part of a record year of weapons tests by isolated North Korea, which Kim last month declared an ‘irreversible’ nuclear power, effectively ending the possibility of denuclearisation talks.

Seoul, Tokyo and Washington have ramped up joint military drills in response, with the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier and its strike group redeployed to the area last week.

On Thursday, Seoul’s military said it had scrambled 30 fighter jets after 12 North Korean warplanes staged a rare formation flight and apparent air-to-surface firing drills.

Go Myong-hyun, a researcher at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, said North Korea was trying to claim that the nature of its sanctions-busting weapons tests were the same as the defensive joint drills between the allies.

‘North Korea is trying to give equivalence through its continued missile launches,’ he told AFP.

– No new sanctions –

Analysts say Pyongyang is emboldened to continue its weapons testing, confident that gridlock at the United Nations will protect it from further sanctions.

Last week, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting to discuss Pyongyang’s launch over Japan, which officials and analysts said was a Hwasong-12 that likely travelled the longest horizontal distance of any North Korean test.

North Korea’s missiles

But at the meeting, North Korea’s longtime ally and economic benefactor China blamed Washington for provoking the spate of launches, with Deputy Chinese Ambassador to the UN Geng Shuang accusing Washington of ‘poisoning the regional security environment’.

US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield called for the ‘strengthening’ of existing sanctions on North Korea, something China and Russia vetoed in May.

The Security Council has been divided on responding to Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions for months, with Russia and China on the sympathetic side and the rest of the council pushing for punishment.

Officials in Seoul and Washington have been warning for months that Pyongyang will also conduct another nuclear test, likely after China’s Communist Party Congress later this month.

‘A flurry of missile tests like the one we’ve seen could indicate a build-up to a nuclear test, but predicting the timing with any precision is quite challenging,’ US-based security analyst Ankit Panda told AFP.

Source: Read Full Article