North Korea using a possible rocket launch as leverage in negotiations with the US would be catastrophic for global diplomacy, a South Korean presidential adviser has said.
US-based websites recently released satellite photographs indicating North Korea has restored structures at its long-range rocket launch facility that it dismantled last year at the start of diplomacy with the United States.
Other satellite images show increased vehicle activities at a separate North Korean facility used to manufacture missiles, and rockets for satellite launches.
Some experts say these suggest North Korea may be assembling a long-range rocket to carry out a banned satellite launch in the wake of last month’s North Korea-US summit in Hanoi that ended without any agreement.
Moon Chung-in, a retired university professor who is now a special adviser to President Moon Jae-in, told a panel discussion that North Korea using a rocket launch or other nuclear activities as leverage in negotiations would be a “bad move”.
Mr Moon said such a North Korean move could eventually cause a “catastrophic” consequence or a “big disaster” in the US-North Korea diplomacy. “I wonder if North Korea should avoid” such an action, Mr Moon said.
He said both North Korea and the US must restrain themselves to keep diplomacy alive and start unofficial contacts to resume talks. He said the Hanoi summit showed how “difficult” and “painful” it would be to achieve de-nuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula.
The Hanoi summit fell apart due to disputes over how many sanctions reliefs North Korea could win in return for limited nuclear disarmament steps.
Washington and Pyongyang accuse each other of causing the summit’s breakdown, but both sides have avoided harsh criticism against each other and expressed hopes for future negotiations. No official meeting between the countries has yet to be publicly scheduled.
The February 27-28 summit was the second summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump since they met for the first time in Singapore last June.