India and Japan today condemned North Korea’s nuclear programme as a grave threat to global peace and stressed on holding accountable all parties supporting the reclusive nation’s nuclear ambitions, in a veiled reference to Pakistan. Though there was no direct reference to Pakistan in the joint statement released after the delegation-level talks, there were reports that Pyongyang had clandestinely received nuclear enrichment technology from Islamabad. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe also affirmed their commitment to total elimination of nuclear weapons. “They (Modi and Abe) stressed the importance of holding accountable all parties that have supported North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes,” the joint statement said.
Nuclear-armed North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan on August 29 in a major escalation of tensions by Pyongyang. Five days later, it carried out a sixth nuclear test, sending tensions soaring over its weapons ambitions and causing global concern. “The two Prime Ministers condemned in the strongest terms North Korea’s continued development of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, including the latest nuclear test conducted by North Korea on 3 September as well as its uranium enrichment activities,” the statement said.
Modi and Abe resolved to strengthen international cooperation for addressing the challenges of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism. Prime Minister Abe stressed the importance of early coming into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). “There was a lot of discussion, understandably, on North Korea and the Japanese side underlined their concern in strong terms. It was an issue on which there was a complete meeting of minds,” Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar told reporters at a media briefing. “The two prime ministers strongly urged North Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and not to take any further provocative actions, and to fully comply with its international obligations under relevant UNSC resolutions including the newly and unanimously adopted resolution 2375, and other international commitments,” said the joint statement.
The UNSC resolution 2375 refers to the body’s decision to impose new sanctions on North Korea -— including a ban on the sale of natural gas liquids to the hermit nation, and on its textile exports -— while also prohibiting member states from providing work authorisation to its nationals. They called for a commencement and early conclusion of negotiations on a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) on the basis of Shannon Mandate, the statement added.