Leaders of S. Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand condemn N.K. launch

July 12, 2023

The leaders of South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand condemned North Korea’s long-range ballistic missile launch Wednesday, saying its nuclear and missile programs will only strengthen the international community’s resolve to achieve the complete denuclearization of the North.

The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea fired a long-range ballistic missile into the East Sea at around 10 a.m. (local time), the latest provocation amid tensions caused by the reclusive regime’s accusations against U.S. spy aircraft operations earlier this week.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins condemned the launch during their meeting on the sidelines of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit here.

“The Republic of Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand strongly condemn today’s long-range ballistic missile launch by North Korea,” a joint statement read.

“This is yet another example of how North Korea continues to violate multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions and pose a grave challenge to peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula, Indo-Pacific region as well as the international community,” it said.

The statement said the four countries resolutely oppose North Korea’s unlawful provocation and urge it to fully comply with all of its obligations under the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions.

It also said the four countries will work together with the U.N. and members of the international community to ensure that U.N. Security Council resolutions that impose sanctions against North Korea are effectively implemented.

“Even if North Korea continues to develop its nuclear and missile programs and threaten the use of nuclear weapons, it will only bolster the international community’s resolve to achieve complete denuclearization of North Korea,” the statement added. “The Republic of Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand urge North Korea to cease provocations and promptly return to dialogue.”

This was the second time the leaders of the four countries met following a similar meeting held on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Spain last year. This year’s meeting was moderated by Yoon.

“I believe we, the AP4, should band together with NATO to establish a strong collective security posture,” Yoon said at the outset of the meeting, which was open to the press. “We will have to use this as an opportunity to enhance our cooperation framework with NATO and take a leading role in regional security in the Indo-Pacific region.”

AP4 refers to the four NATO Asia-Pacific Partners.

Yoon described the North’s launch as a “direct challenge” to peace in the Asia-Pacific region and the world and to the rules-based order, according to his office.

“We cannot overlook such provocations and need to respond to North Korea’s reckless actions through the international community’s strong response and solidarity,” he was quoted as saying.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida echoed the remarks, saying he strongly condemns the launch as a threat to international peace and stability, and hopes to respond jointly with the other three nations.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called out the North for breaching U.N. rules.

“We once again saw the egregious launch of an ICBM by North Korea overnight,” he said, referring to an intercontinental ballistic missile. “We stand particularly with our friends in South Korea at this time.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins noted the leaders gathered at a “very challenging time for the world,” citing the war in Ukraine and democracy under attack.

The leaders committed to providing continued support to Ukraine in its war with Russia, while also agreeing to cooperate with Pacific island nations, build resilient and diversified supply chains and strengthen cyber security cooperation while working closely with NATO, the presidential office said.