New Zealand to deploy aircraft to help monitor North Korea's ballistic missile capabilities

New Zealand to deploy aircraft to help monitor North Korea's ballistic missile capabilities
Photo credit: Getty Images

The Government is set to deploy an aircraft to help a United Nations-led effort to monitor North Korea's ballistic missile capabilities. 

It will be New Zealand's fifth deployment, with aircraft sent in April this year, October last year, October 2019 and September 2018.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) aircraft will again operate out of Kadena Air Base in Japan and will conduct maritime air patrols over international waters in north Asia during November.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said on Thursday New Zealand is committed to supporting the "maintenance of peace and security" on the Korean Peninsula.

"Our deployments are part of ongoing international efforts to fully implement United Nations Security Council resolutions. They support the goal of the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation of North Korea," Mahuta said. 

Defence Minister Peeni Henare said the aircraft will help detect and deter actions that contravene United Nations Security Council sanctions on North Korea, such as ship-to-ship transfers of illicit material at sea. 

"New Zealand will also have the opportunity to work in close coordination with a number of like-minded partners through these continued efforts," Henare said. 

Two weeks ago, North Korea said it had test-fired a new ballistic missile from a submarine (SLBM), a day after authorities in South Korea and Japan detected an apparent weapons test. 

South Korea's military said it believed North Korea had fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile off its east coast, in what was the latest in a string of North Korean missile tests.

The weapon was launched from the same submarine involved in a 2016 test of an older version, according to North Korea's state news agency KCNA.

"The new type SLBM, into which lots of advanced control guidance technologies including flank mobility and gliding skip mobility are introduced, will greatly contribute to putting the defence technology of the country on a high level and to enhancing the underwater operational capability of our navy," KCNA said.

Sanctions on North Korea, adopted unanimously by the United Nations Security Council between 2006 and 2017, are intended to persuade North Korea to denuclearise and abandon its ballistic missile capabilities.