North Korea’s nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles could now reach Germany and central Europe, a top German intelligence official claims, as Pyongyang is currently under crippling UN and US sanctions for its nuclear and missile programs despite existing rapprochement to expand dialog on the divided Korean Peninsula.
According to a report by the German Bild am Sonntag newspaper, Ole Diehl, deputy director of the country’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), sounded the purported alarm during a closed-door meeting with legislators on Sunday, claiming that the assessment was “certain.”
The report, citing some participants in the briefing, further said that, according to the senior spy official, the BND viewed talks between North Korea and South Korea as a positive sign.
The report came on the same day as, according to Yonhap News Agency, a senior North Korean diplomat flew to Finland for negotiations with American and South Korean officials amid a series of diplomatic encounters ahead of a possible Washington-Pyongyang summit.
Furthermore, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho wrapped up his three-day trip to Stockholm, Sweden, earlier on Sunday in a visit about which few official details were available but that may have focused on the logistics of potential mediation by Stockholm between Pyongyang and Washington.
The two Koreas have been improving ties since January, when Pyongyang announced its willingness to participate in the Winter Olympics. The two neighbors have been separated by a heavily-militarized border since the end of the Korean War in 1953.
Washington and its regional allies South Korea and Japan oppose the North’s nuclear and missile programs. Pyongyang says it needs to advance those programs to be ready to counter potential military aggression by the US or South Korea, or both.
However, tensions have significantly subsided since January; and the South Korean officials who met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have cited him as saying that he is ready to give up North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs if the security of the country is guaranteed.