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(LEAD) Luna: North Korea moves closer to lifting ICBM moratorium

(ATTENTION: ADD separate NSC statement in paragraphs 9-10)
Por Kim Deok Hyun

SEOUL, Jan. 30 (Yonhap) — President Moon Jae-in said Sunday that North Korea is inching closer to lifting its self-imposed moratorium on intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests shortly after Korea North fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile.

Moon made the comments while presiding over a plenary meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) for the first time in about a year, an indication of how seriously he takes the launch of what is believed to be the longest-range missile he has ever had. the North. fired in recent years.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the North Korean missile flew about 800 kilometers at a maximum altitude of 2,000 kilometers. Flight data indicated that North Korea has test-launched its largest ballistic missile since 2017.

The launch also marked the North’s seventh show of force this month alone.

“North Korea has maintained the moratorium on nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles so far, while expressing its willingness to dialogue. But if it fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile, we can consider that they have come close to lifting the moratorium,” Moon was quoted as saying. as he said during the meeting.

Moon called on North Korea to stop creating tension and respond to international calls for dialogue.

Moon said North Korea’s latest launch was “a challenge to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, peace and stability on the Korean peninsula, and the diplomatic efforts of the international community, as well as an act that violates the resolution.” of the UN Security Council,” according to the statement.

During the meeting, Moon said North Korea could repeat a situation shown in 2017, when Pyongyang escalated tensions by launching intercontinental and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

After the plenary meeting ended, National Security Adviser Suh Hoon held a separate NSC meeting and condemned the North’s launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile.

“North Korea must immediately stop actions that create tensions on the Korean Peninsula and instability in the regional situation while maintaining the moratorium,” the presidential office said in a separate statement.

North Korea has maintained a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests since late 2017.

Since early this year, North Korea has ratcheted up tensions with a series of missile launches as the United States ratcheted up sanctions pressure amid stalled denuclearization talks between the two countries.

On January 20, Pyongyang made a thinly veiled threat to lift its year-long moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests, prompting speculation that it would engage in more provocative actions in the future.

North Korea launched the most monthly projectile launches in January since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un took power in late 2011. It launched six projectile launches in both March and July 2014.

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