Earlier this month, a top North Korean official warned that it would send a “Christmas gift” to the United States. Though it was not made clear what the gift would be, security experts believe that it might be a missile test. North Korea has set a year-end deadline for its nuclear negotiations with the U.S.
At the United Nations Security Council, U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft expressed concern that the “gift” might be a missile that has the capacity to carry nuclear weapons and hit American shores. “Missile and nuclear testing will not bring the DPRK (North Korea) greater security… We trust that the DPRK will turn away from further hostility and threats, and instead make a bold decision to engage with us… If events prove otherwise, we, this Security Council, must all be prepared to act accordingly,” she said in a statement (The Guardian).
Back in 2017, Kim Jong-un launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, referring it as a “gift” to the U.S. for the Fourth of July holiday. It was the trigger that sparked a multi-month standoff between the two nations. Last year, U.S. President Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a historic meeting in Singapore. Though the meeting was dubbed a “success,” it failed, thus far, to produce any tangible outcomes regarding North Korea’s denuclearization.
In February this year, the two met once again, but the meeting ended in a stalemate. And in October, the third round of talks ended up with North Korea blaming the U.S. for not offering anything significant in exchange for denuclearization. At the UN Security Council, Britain and France asked North Korea to work with the Trump administration and stop the conflict from worsening. Though Russia and China supported putting pressure on North Korea, they rejected the possibility of slapping additional sanctions on the country.
It was recently reported that North Korea has already tested a missile that could reach the U.S. “If it is indeed a static engine test for a new solid or liquid fuel missile, it is yet another loud signal that the door for diplomacy is quickly slamming if it hasn’t already… This could be a very credible signal of what might await the world after the New Year,” Vipin Narang, a nuclear affairs expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States, said to The Daily Beast. Now, all that remains is to see what Pyongyang offers as a “gift” on Christmas.
Building peace in Korea
The U.S. special envoy for North Korea will soon be meeting up with his counterparts in South Korea as the year-end deadline set by Pyongyang for denuclearization talks approaches rapidly. “The two sides will exchange extensive views on the recent situation on the Korean peninsula and discuss ways to bring substantial progress on achieving complete denuclearization and enduring peace,” the South Korean ministry said in a statement (Reuters).
North Korean officials have stated that they would take a “new path” if talks with the U.S. does not yield a productive outcome by this year-end. This “new path” is believed to possibly be the expansion of the country’s nuclear profile. The officials argued that the United States, though open to talks, had actually “nothing to offer.” The envoy will also be meeting up with officials from Japan.