Moon: North’s nukes too far along for quick de­struc­tion

Ja­pan’s Abe says Py­ongyang still de­vel­op­ing mis­siles de­spite launch pause

Jerusalem Post - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS - (Erik De Cas­tro/Reuters)

SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) – South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in said on Tues­day it would not be easy for reclu­sive North Korea to de­stroy its nu­clear arse­nal quickly, even if wanted to, given its weapons pro­grams were so de­vel­oped.

North Korea is un­der heavy in­ter­na­tional pres­sure to end its weapons pro­grams, pur­sued in de­fi­ance of UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions. But it has vowed never to give up its nu­clear arse­nal.

Speak­ing to re­porters in the Philip­pines, Moon said that if North Korea agreed to hold talks, ne­go­ti­a­tions could be held with all op­tions open.

“If talks be­gin to re­solve the North Korea nu­clear is­sue, I feel it will be re­al­is­ti­cally dif­fi­cult for North Korea to com­pletely de­stroy its nu­clear ca­pa­bil­i­ties when their nu­clear and mis­sile arse­nal are at a de­vel­oped stage,” Moon said in a brief­ing.

“If so, North Korea’s nu­clear pro­gram should be sus­pended, and ne­go­ti­a­tions could go on to pur­sue com­plete de­nu­cle­ariza­tion.”

Moon’s re­marks were made avail­able by the pres­i­den­tial Blue House.

Last week, the North said it did not op­pose di­a­logue, but would “never put the is­sue re­lated to the supreme in­ter­ests of the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea and se­cu­rity of its peo­ple on the bar­gain­ing ta­ble.”

“We are not in­ter­ested in such di­a­logue and ne­go­ti­a­tions in the least,” the North’s of­fi­cial news agency said, re­fer­ring to the coun­try by its of­fi­cial name, the DPRK.

The North de­fends the pro­grams as a nec­es­sary de­fense against US plans to in­vade. The United States, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea, a le­gacy of the 1950 to 1953 Korean war, de­nies any such in­ten­tion.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has traded in­sults and threats with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as North Korea races to­wards its goal of de­vel­op­ing a nu­clear-tipped mis­sile ca­pa­ble of reach­ing the United States.

Trump threat­ened in his maiden UN ad­dress to “to­tally de­stroy” North Korea if the United States was threat­ened and has said the time for talk­ing, the pol­icy of pre­vi­ous US ad­min­is­tra­tions, is over.

Moon re­it­er­ated his stance that now was the time to in­crease pres­sure on North Korea so that it would come to talks.

He said dif­fer­ences in un­der­stand­ing be­tween South Korea and China, North Korea’s lone ma­jor ally, re­gard­ing the de­ploy­ment of the US Ter­mi­nal High Alti­tude Area De­fense (THAAD) sys­tem on South Ko­ran soil had not been re­solved.

“China has not said it has changed its stance to agree to THAAD and still says THAAD in­fringes on its se­cu­rity. We have, in turn, ex­plained THAAD is not aimed at China but only to­wards curb­ing North Korea’s nu­clear and mis­sile provo­ca­tions,” he said.

Last month, South Korea and China agreed to end a year-long stand­off over THAAD which had seen South Korean com­pa­nies do­ing busi­ness in China suf­fer from re­tal­i­a­tion against the sys­tem’s de­ploy­ment.

Also on Tues­day, Ja­pan’s Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe said an al­most two-month pause in North Korean mis­sile tests was no in­di­ca­tion that it had halted its weapons de­vel­op­ment, in­sist­ing it was too early for any talks with the regime.

“I be­lieve that it con­tin­ues to de­velop its weapons,” Abe told a news con­fer­ence in Manila af­ter a se­ries of meet­ings with other Asian lead­ers at a gath­er­ing of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South East Asian Na­tions (ASEAN) and East Asia Fo­rum.

“There is no point for talks for the sake of talks,” he said.

Abe’s in­sis­tence that tough sanc­tions, in­clud­ing re­stric­tions on oil sales, are nec­es­sary to soften up the North Korean regime over the com­ing win­ter could put him at log­ger­heads with other coun­tries such as South Korea that might agree to open talks if ap­proached by the North.

Af­ter fir­ing mis­siles at a pace of about two or three a month since April, North Korean mis­sile launches paused in Septem­ber, af­ter it fired a rocket that passed over Ja­pan’s north­ern Hokkaido is­land.

Abe said he would work closely with other coun­tries in the re­gion in­clud­ing China and Rus­sia to per­suade North Korea to halt mis­sile de­vel­op­ment and give up its nu­clear weapon am­bi­tions.

SOUTH KOREAN Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in (far right) and Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe (sec­ond from right) link arms with Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull (third from right) and Sin­ga­pore Prime Min­is­ter Lee Hsien Loong yes­ter­day as they pose for an of­fi­cial photo dur­ing the East Asia Sum­mit in Manila.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Israel

© PressReader. All rights reserved.