by 24th April 2016 @ascorrespondent
NORTH KOREA is ready to put a stop to its nuclear tests – but only if the U.S. agrees to cease its annual military exercises with South Korea.
In his first interview with a Western news organization, North Korean foreign minister Ri Su Yong spoke with the Associated Press, defending his country’s right to maintain a nuclear deterrent, adding that North Korea would not bow to international pressure.
Pyongyang has long claimed that it was the U.S. that drove the nation to develop nuclear weapons.
“Stop the nuclear war exercises in the Korean Peninsula, then we should also cease our nuclear tests,” he said.
Ri also hinted that the suspension of the military exercises would likely reduce tensions between North and South Korea.
On Sunday, North Korea announced that it had successfully test-fired a ballistic missile from a submarine the day before, and that it has bolstered its nuclear attack capabilities.
The state-owned Korean Central News Agency reported that its leader Kim Jong Un had observed the firing of the missile from a test facility.
While South Korean weapons experts said it is unlikely that North Korea currently possesses an operational submarine that can fire multiple missiles, they do accede that the North is making progress on such technology.
Such a development is raising alarm bells, as missiles fired from submarines are harder to detect prior to launch compared to land-based ones.
In response to the missile test, the U.S. said it is restricting foreign minister Ri’s movement, as he is currently in New York to attend U.N. functions.
U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said due to the recent missile firing, the U.S. has decided that it was necessary to limit the travel of Ri and his delegation to only those places necessary for them to conduct their duties.
Additional reporting by Associated Press
North Korea launches missile from submarine
N. Korea appears to have fired submarine-launched missile: Seoul’s Defense Ministry
北, 신포 동북방 동해상에서 ‘잠수함 미사일’ 1발 발사
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff says the projectile,… presumed to a submarine-launched ballistic missile, was fired from near Shinpo, Hamgyeongnam-do province, on Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m, South Korea time.
The South Korean military is currently assessing whether the launch was a success.
The projectile was fired from a two-thousand ton submarine and South Korean military officials believe the missile’s rocket booster did ignite, but it was only in the air for a short time.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul say they are keeping a close eye on North Korea’s movements, and maintaining a high state of readiness.
North Korea conducted a failed SLBM launch in November of last year and another, possibly successful, launch around six months before that.
Experts have noted that SLBMs need to be tested numerous times in order to refine the launches, especially given the complexity of the technology involved.
This latest launch comes amid mounting speculation North Korea could conduct a fifth nuclear test ahead of a rare party congress early next month.
Kim Hyun-bin, Arirang News.