The North Atlantic Treaty Organization will support negotiations between the United States and North Korea in a bid to achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a verifiable manner, according to the deputy chief of the security grouping.
“NATO would be very supportive” of the first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit planned on June 12 in Singapore, Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller said in a recent interview with Kyodo News.
“We always stress the importance of following U.N. Security Council resolutions and fulfilling the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in a verifiable manner to make sure implementation actually takes place,” she said.
(Rose Gottemoeller, NATO’s Deputy Secretary General)
NATO is willing to “back up the effort in negotiations” between Washington and Pyongyang, Gottemoeller added.
Last year, North Korea, whose formal name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, fired a ballistic missile that flew over Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido in August and carried out a sixth nuclear test — its largest yet — in September.
In November, Pyongyang also test-fired what it claimed is a more powerful intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking anywhere in the United States with a nuclear warhead.
Gottemoeller said, “When we saw the missile test program last summer followed by a nuclear test in September, it really was a wakeup call for NATO allies.”
“It became evident that DPRK long-range missiles are capable of striking not only North America but also Europe,” she said, adding this is “a global threat, not just a threat that affects the Asia-Pacific region and DPRK’s immediate neighbors.”
Gottemoeller attended the Asia Security Summit, known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, held Friday through Sunday in Singapore.
It was the first time for NATO, which is primarily focused on the Euro-Atlantic area, to send such a high-ranking official to the key security summit in Asia.
In recent years, the Western alliance has been trying to become more involved in the Asia-Pacific region, amid growing fears about terrorism, energy security, cyberattacks and maritime security as well as North Korea’s nuclear weapons ambitions.
Indeed, the 29-member NATO has been deepening relations with countries outside the Euro-Atlantic region like Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, designating them as “global partners.”
“We are definitely welcome to expand communications (with Asian nations) so that we can have good dialogue on so many issues on mutual concerns,” Gottemoeller said.
(A test-fire of the new Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile)
NATO is “very pleased” to have more informal dialogue and joint projects with countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including Japan, she said, expressing hope for Tokyo’s contribution on the economic front.
As for China’s military buildup in the South China Sea, Gottemoeller called on Beijing to abide by the international rules-based order.
“This is not just benefit to the U.S., to NATO and to Japan. It is a benefit to China as well” in terms of the economy and national security, Gottemoeller said.
At the 17th annual meeting, defense officials from around 50 countries, including the United States and those in Asia and Europe, discussed security issues in the Asia-Pacific region.
Gottemoeller took up her position as NATO’s No. 2 in October 2016, prior to which she served as an undersecretary at the U.S. State Department, handling arms control issues, for around five years.
NATO was founded by 12 original member states in 1949 as a military alliance to protect Western Europe against the threat from the now-defunct Soviet Union. Its headquarters is in Brussels.
Article 5 of NATO’s founding treaty stipulates that an attack on one or more of its member states is considered an attack against the whole alliance, and help can be extended to allies that are attacked.