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S. Korea’s chief nuclear envoy calls for collective condemnation of NK satellite launch

June 2, 2023 - 21:05 By Ji Da-gyum
Kim Gunn, the Foreign Ministry's Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs (far right) speaks at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Friday. (Foreign Ministry)

SINGAPORE — South Korea's top nuclear envoy on Friday called for the international community to collectively condemn North Korea's recent abortive attempt to launch a spy satellite during the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

Kim Gunn, the Foreign Ministry's Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs, delivered a presentation during the special session titled “Nuclear Dimensions of Regional Security” at Asia's largest defense summit.

Kim particularly "emphasized that North Korea's launch of a long-range ballistic missile, disguised as a satellite launch, on Wednesday and its announcement of an additional launch, are a direct challenge to the authority of the UN Security Council" during his speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue, South Korea's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Kim openly denounced Pyongyang for "posing a grave challenge to the international order of law" during the special session where around 80 government officials and security experts attended.

Space launch vehicles and ballistic missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles, share certain technologies that can be identical or interchangeable. The primary distinction lies in the payload, where a space launch vehicle carries a satellite while a missile carries a warhead.

The launch of what North Korea claimed to be a "military reconnaissance satellite" violated nine UN Security Council resolutions that specifically prohibit North Korea from conducting launches using ballistic missile technologies.

Kim "underscored the importance of close international cooperation in blocking North Korea's illicit funds for nuclear and missile development, as well as actively responding to its overseas laborers and cyber activities."

Kim called on the international community to "clearly demonstrate that North Korea gains nothing from its nuclear ambitions."

Kim also said: "North Korea's attempts to justify illegal provocations only serve to strengthen the resolute and united will of the international community."

The Shangri-La Dialogue, which has drawn defense ministers and high-level delegates from over 40 countries including South Korea, the United States, China, Japan, Ukraine and the European Union, kicked off on Friday and continues through Sunday.

South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup is also set to deliver a keynote speech on Saturday on the topic of “joint efforts to address North Korean threats that pose regional security challenges.” Lee will outline the security policy of the Yoon Suk Yeol administration in response to North Korean nuclear and missile threats, as well as human rights issues in North Korea.

On the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, Lee is also scheduled to hold bilateral defense ministerial meetings with counterparts from China, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, Germany and the EU on Saturday and Sunday. The discussions will touch on Korean Peninsula affairs as well as global issues, including the Indo-Pacific strategy.

A trilateral defense ministerial meeting involving South Korea, the US and Japan is planned for Saturday in a bid to discuss ways to enhance trilateral security cooperation, including the coordination of military exercises, and to strengthen information sharing on North Korea's missile launches amid increasing threats from North Korea.