Blinken: North Korea missile tests 'profoundly destabilizing'

Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenUkraine receives second batch of weapons from US: 'And this is not the end' Blinken: State Dept tracking US Embassy personnel in Kyiv 'very, very closely' Pope notes 'rising tensions' in Ukraine, calls for talks MORE on Thursday said North Korea’s successive ballistic missile launches are “profoundly destabilizing.”  

The secretary reiterated calls for the regime in Pyongyang to engage in diplomatic discussions with the U.S. with no preconditions. North Korea has rejected that position as a nonstarter and called for sanctions relief prior to beginning dialogue.  

“Some months ago, we made clear that we were prepared to engage the North Koreans, to sit down with no preconditions, to see if we could find a way forward with them at the table toward the total denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Blinken said in an interview with MSNBC on Thursday.  

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“Unfortunately, not only has there been no response to those overtures, but the response we’ve seen, as you pointed out, in recent weeks has been renewed missile tests, something that is profoundly destabilizing.” 

The U.S. imposed sanctions on five North Korean officials on Wednesday in response to at least six test missile launches that have taken place since September 2021. The latest launch, which occurred Monday, is reported to be a more advanced hypersonic missile. 

The missile was reported to have landed in the Sea of Japan and the Federal Aviation Administration temporarily halted commercial flights from the West coast in response to the perceived threat, although U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said the missile posed no threat to the U.S.  

Experts say that North Korea’s continued test missile launches appear to be part of a policy laid out by North Korean Leader Kim Jung Un in January 2021 to test a range of new and advanced technology, more than a provocation against neighboring countries South Korea, Japan or its adversary, the U.S. 

Blinken on Thursday suggested the missile tests are an effort to get attention, and that the U.S. is working with South Korea and Japan, and at the United Nations, to respond.  

“I think some of this is the North Korea trying to get trying to get attention," he said. "It’s done that in the past; it’ll probably continue to do that. But we are very focused with allies and partners in making sure that they and we are properly defended and that there are repercussions, consequences for these actions by North Korea.”