Japan Offers North Korea Diplomacy as U.S. Warns Tokyo at Risk

Japan’s top diplomat said his country is prepared to take the lead in getting nuclear weapons out of North Korea as the U.S. warned Tokyo is at risk of an atomic attack.

“Japan will lead the diplomatic efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula,” Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said at a United Nations conference on Tuesday in Vienna. North Korea is contributing to a “security environment that is becoming increasingly severe,’’ he said.

Hundreds of diplomats convene this week in the Austrian capital to strengthen the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the 1970 accord that’s supposed to impose controls over atomic weapons and technologies. North Korea withdrew from the NPT in 2003 and subsequently built an atomic arsenal. The U.S. said it will press diplomats at the meeting to take a tougher line on the peninsula’s northern Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“The threat of a North Korean nuclear attack on Seoul or Tokyo is real and it is only a matter of time before the DPRK develops the capability to strike the U.S. mainland,” U.S. envoy Robert Wood said in prepared remarks. 

“We must all act resolutely,” he said. “If we fail, permitting North Korea’s violations of and announced withdrawal from the NPT and its escalating provocations to plunge the region and perhaps the world into crisis, everything else we do and say here in Vienna will matter little by comparison.”

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