MANILA- Defense ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) condemned on Tuesday North Korea's persistent nuclear missile tests and asked the reclusive state to abide by the United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Speaking to reporters, Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said defense ministers of the regional bloc have expressed concern over Pyongyang's missile tests, saying it put ASEAN countries at risk.
The region's defense ministers took the united stand at the ASEAN Defense Ministers (ADMM)-Plus Meeting in Clark, Pampanga on Tuesday.
"The ADMM-Plus is united in condemning the actions of North Korea, these actions of firing missiles, testing nuclear weapons in the vicinity because according to a lot of us -and I agree with them- there could be miscalculations and mistakes by flying these, and it could hit any of the countries in the region. We are just within range," he said.
Lorenzana added that "Plus" countries namely Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia, and the Unites States also echoed the regional bloc's stance.
China, according to Lorenzana, was "very emphatic" with the bloc's concerns over North Korea since Pyongyang appeared bullish in its earlier talks with Beijing over its nuclear tests. Beijing is Pyongyang's largest trading partner.
He said imposing further sanctions on North Korea may not be the way to go since it further provokes its leader Kim Jong-Un.
"I think it (sanction) feeds on his fears of being invaded also, and so he rallies his people to fight against invaders," Lorenzana said.
"Instead of weakening him, it's (sanction) strengthening his hold on his people… I think some of the major players in the area, the US, China, and Russia would have to come up with another approach to reach out to North Korea," he added. -- report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News