S. Korea, U.S., Japan jointly condemn N. Korea’s ICBM launch

December 20, 2023

The top diplomats of South Korea, the United States and Japan issued a joint statement Thursday condemning North Korea’s back-to-back missile launches this week.

The statement came after North Korea launched a Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Monday. It marked the North’s fifth ICBM launch this year — the highest number ever recorded in a single year.

Foreign Minister Park Jin, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa condemned the North’s test-firing of the ICBM and a short-range ballistic missile launched on Sunday, urging Pyongyang to stop further provocations.

“The DPRK’s continued provocations pose a grave threat to the Korean Peninsula, the region, and international peace and security, while undermining the global non-proliferation regime,” they said, referring to the North by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The three sides urged the North to abide by relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions and immediately cease all activities that violate them, stressing these unannounced launches threaten the safety of civil aviation and maritime traffic in the region.

They emphasized the North’s human rights violations are “inextricably linked” with the reclusive country’s unlawful weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile advancements.

“We will continue to work closely with the international community to block the DPRK’s illicit revenue generation funding its unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs through the exploitation of overseas workers and malicious cyber activities,” it added.

In the statement, the U.S. reiterated that its commitments to defending South Korea and Japan are “ironclad and backed by the full range of capabilities, including nuclear.”

South Korea’s military said the latest ICBM, launched from Pyongyang at a lofted angle, flew about 1,000 kilometers before landing in the East Sea.

Experts said the missile would have flown more than 15,000 km, long enough to strike any part of the continental United States, had it been fired on a normal trajectory.