WASHINGTON, Jan 7 — North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs pose an ongoing threat to the region and the international community, Unites States Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday.
The top US diplomat also highlighted the need to strengthen the US-Japan alliance to meet such threats, Yonhap news agency reported.
“Meanwhile, North Korea’s unlawful nuclear, missile programs pose an ongoing threat. And we saw that again this week with the most recent launch,” Blinken said, referring to North Korea’s test launch of a self-claimed hypersonic missile Wednesday (Seoul time).
Blinken made the remarks at the start of annual security consultative talks with his Japanese counterpart, Yoshimasa Hayashi, that also involved US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi.
Blinken noted threats facing the allies included what he called China’s “provocative actions” in the region and Russia’s military buildup along the Ukraine border.
“So, to address these evolving threats, our alliance must not only strengthen the tools we have but also develop new ones,” Blinken told the virtual meeting. “And I think that’s really the focus of the discussions that are about to happen.”
Blinken earlier in the day condemned the North Korean missile test while holding a telephone conversation with his Japanese counterpart.
Austin, meanwhile, reiterated challenges posed by North Korea and others in the Indo-Pacific region during the top of the two-plus-two meeting.
This week’s missile test marked North Korea’s first missile launch since October. Pyongyang has claimed to have successfully test-launched its first hypersonic missile in September.