North Korea may launch an intercontinental ballistic missile or take other military action to protest a summit of the United States, South Korea and Japan, a South Korean lawmaker said on Thursday, citing the country’s intelligence agency.
U.S. President Joe Biden will meet at Camp David in Maryland on Friday with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, hoping to tighten ties between Seoul and Tokyo amid nuclear threats from North Korea and at a time when China’s regional influence is growing.
North Korea (DPRK) has criticised the deepening military co-operation of the three countries as part of a dangerous prelude to the creation of an “Asian version of NATO”.
The reclusive state could also attempt another spy satellite launch at the end of August or early September after its first such effort failed in May, Yoo Sang-bum, a member of the South Korean parliament, told reporters.
There was a chance North Korea would launch the satellite to celebrate its founding anniversary on Sept. 9, Yoo said after a meeting with the chief of the National Intelligence Service.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has set a priority of conducting a launch in the second half of this year, Yoo said.
When asked about the South Korean warning, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said she didn’t have “anything specific on that.”
“We know to expect the unexpected from the DPRK. So we’re prepared for the unexpected,” she told reporters.
North Korea and Russia agreed on broad defence co-operation when the Russian defence minister met Kim last month and watched a military parade with him in the capital, Pyongyang, Yoo quoted South Korean intelligence as saying.
“The National Intelligence Service is anticipating that Russia and North Korea will speed up their defence cooperation and is closely tracing movements” to spot any possible Russian transfer of nuclear missile technology to the North, Yoo said.
Thomas-Greenfied said the visit by the Russian defence minister was a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions by showing “support for their weapons programs and that clearly was what we saw with his presence there.”
Russian officials appear to have visited North Korea this month to discuss details of military co-operation and South Korea spotted signs of military supplies being shipped out of Pyongyang on a Russian plane on Aug. 8, Yoo said.
Washington has criticised North Korea for providing weapons to Russia for its war in Ukraine.
On Wednesday, the United States imposed sanctions on three entities it accused of being tied to arms deals between the two countries.
Pyongyang and Moscow have denied arms transactions.
South Korea’s foreign ministry welcomed the latest U.S. measures, saying it would also review imposing further sanctions on the North aimed at curbing its illicit weapons development and arms trade.
“Any U.N. member state should immediately halt military co-operation with North Korea, including illicit arms transactions, that threatens the peace and stability of the international community,” the ministry spokesperson told a briefing.