US willing to discuss ‘full range’ of North Korea concerns but only through dialogue

At the same time, the US reaffirmed its stance to penalize North Korea’s acts of pushing for weapons tests in violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions.

Ji Da-gyum

Ji Da-gyum

The Korea Herald


US State Department spokesman Ned Price speaks at the daily briefing at the State Department. (File Photo-AFP)

April 20, 2022

SEOUL – The US said it is willing to discuss the “full range” of North Korea’s concerns only through dialogue, whereas a pro-North Korea newspaper said it will continue weapons development to “subdue” and overpower the US.

The US State Department on Monday reiterated the Biden administration’s two-pronged approach to keep the door open for dialogue and hold North Korea accountable for illicitly developing weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price underscored that the US has made “very clear to the DPRK that the door to diplomacy is not closed.”

“(But) the DPRK needs to cease its destabilizing actions and instead choose the path of engagement, something it has not yet done,” Price told reporters during a regular briefing. The DPRK refers to North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“We are willing to listen to the full range of the DPRK’s concerns, but this can only happen through dialogue, and the DPRK has not yet given any concrete indications that it is open to this dialogue.”

China and Russia have pointed fingers at the US for not addressing North Korea’s security concerns. But the State Department clarified that Pyongyang has not responded to Washington’s repeated overture to “meet without preconditions to engage in this dialogue.”

Penalize illegal actions

At the same time, the US reaffirmed its stance to penalize North Korea’s acts of pushing for weapons tests in violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions.

“Our actions are intended to make clear to the DPRK that its escalatory behavior has consequences,” Price said. “Those consequences will continue as long as the DPRK continues with its provocations.”

To that end, Price said the Biden administration has worked with its allies in the region and beyond as well as in the UN context to clearly condemn North Korea’s ballistic missile tests.

Washington has taken the initiative to introduce a new UN Security Council resolution and reinforce sanctions, despite the lack of cooperation from Beijing and Moscow. This month, the US reportedly circulated a draft resolution among the 15 council members that included halving crude oil and refined petroleum exports, prohibiting the exports to North Korea of tobacco, and banning cruise missile launches.

US Special Representative for North Korea Sung Kim on Monday said he and his South Korean counterpart, Noh Kyu-duk, shared the view to “continue to work closely to respond responsibly and decisively to the provocative behavior in the united context and beyond.”

The US Defense Department on Monday underscored that the US security commitment to defend its South Korean allies against North Korean threats will remain unchanged before achieving the goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

“In the meantime, we have serious security commitments to our South Korean allies, and we’re meeting those. We’re making them tangible. We’re making them real,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said during a regular briefing.

Kirby said a nine-day Combined Command Post Training, which kicked off on Monday, shows the US’ serious commitment to protecting South Korea.

“That’s I think, a tangible representation of how seriously we take our responsibilities there,” Kirby said, elucidating that the “best way to pursue the denuclearization of the peninsula is (still) through diplomacy.”

Weapons development to subdue US

But Choson Sinbo, a pro-North Korea newspaper produced by the Chongryon community in Tokyo, on Tuesday suggested that Pyongyang will press ahead with developing and advancing new weapons systems to overpower the US.

The article, penned by Choson Sinbo senior writer Kim Ji-young, a high-profile mouthpiece for Pyongyang, said North Korea should no longer remain at the stage of successfully conducting a test launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles amid a changing security environment.

Kim underscored that North Korea has been accelerating new weapons development, with the rule and principle that North Korea’s “external political activities focus on subduing and subjugating the US.” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un proposed the direction at the Eighth Party Congress in January 2021.

The revised rules of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea also stipulate North Korea’s goal to “protect the stability and peaceful environment of the Korean Peninsula with strong national defense capabilities by suppressing fundamental military threats.”

Choson Sinbo said North Korea has decided not to stop “developing strategic and tactical weapon systems with the goal to build up (military) power to completely block an opponent’s attempt to wage war.”

The newspaper also urged the Biden administration to abandon the current North Korea policy to avoid military confrontation.

“The military collision will not occur if the US withdraws the existing policy, with the recognition that antagonizing and taking a confrontational stance against the DPRK, which has overwhelming military power, itself is an act of self-harm endangering the US national security,” it read.

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