North Korea Fires Another Missile As Leaders Gather In DC For 4th Nuclear Summit

The Nuclear Security Summit, which begins on April 1, will be held at a time of rising concerns about terrorists obtaining nuclear weapons, an increasingly unstable situation in the South China Sea and another provocative missile launch by North Korea.

This morning, the Yonhap news agency reported that Pyongyang apparently test-fired a short-range projectile in violation of international sanctions imposed after its last nuclear test.

The report claims an “unidentified projectile was fired from the coastal city of Wonsan” and “flew some 200 kilometers in a northeasterly direction before falling and hitting a land target.”

In what could be the last year the summit will be held, the keynote address at the fourth Nuclear Security Summit is expected to be delivered by Chinese President Xi Zinping and will focus on the nation’s new nuclear security measures.

Russia has decided not to attend the summit saying that the meeting has served its purpose and now just gets in the way of the work of the United Nations.

China officials have said they want the summit to boost international cooperation on nuclear security and called for restarting talks with North Korea about the isolated ally’s nuclear weapons program.

[The Asia Society provides a brief overview of the issues at the forefront of the Summit.]

In a marked departure from previous years, China is scheduled to hold separate meetings on the side with South Korea and the US, a sign of its willingness to cooperate more with the West in light of its declining relationship (and frustration) with Pyongyang, says Jonathan Pollack of the Brookings Institution.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye, President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will hold a three-way summit on the sidelines of the Washington gathering later this week.

The Western nations should not miss the opportunity at this summit, however, to talk in broader terms about the potential risk posed by nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists. Often framed as a western issue, Togzhan Kassenova of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, says Asian nations must be included in the conversation because the inescapable truth about nuclear terrorism is that a potential attack is as likely to occur in Beijing or Tokyo as it is in New York, London, or Paris.

“Though a terrorist attack using nuclear or radiological material may be a low-probability threat, it would have dramatic effects on the global commons. The consequences would extend to every country on Earth, not just the one on whose territory the event took place. A nuclear terrorist event would be a global event because we live in a world of unprecedented interconnectedness,” she writes.

And there is certain to be talks about the recent comments made by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during an interview with the New York Times.

Trump, who has shown a desire to pull the US off the international stage to an extent, said he was open to withdrawing American forces from Japan and South Korea if those countries were not willing to pay more to keep those forces stationed in the region.

In response to Trump, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Monday that his country remains committed to the three nonnuclear principles and the Japan-U.S. alliance remain the cornerstone of its diplomacy.

“Whoever becomes president of the United States, the Japan-U.S. alliance, based on the bilateral security agreement, will remain the core of Japan’s diplomacy. We will maintain the three nonnuclear principles that prohibit Japan from owning, developing and transporting a nuclear arsenal,” he told reporters.

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