South Korea said Wednesday it can discuss with North Korea how to create a “peace regime” on the divided Korean Peninsula amid lingering tensions over North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.
Still, South Korea said certain conditions must be put in place before holding discussions on the issue, an apparent reference to military confidence-building of the two rival Koreas that are still technically at war.
“South Korea can discuss the establishment of a peace regime in case conditions mature,” the presidential office said in a book that outlined President Park’s Geun-hye’s national security policies.
The presidential office did not elaborate on what it meant by a peace regime, though it is widely seen as a peace treaty that could replace the armistice accord that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.
North Korea has claimed a peace treaty would end what Pyongyang called the U.S. “hostile” policy and its nuclear threat against the communist country and lead to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
South Korea warned that North Korea may carry out various kinds of military provocations at a time when North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has yet to consolidate his power he inherited upon the death of his father and long-time leader Kim Jong-il in 2011.
“There is a possibility that North Korea could create tensions to avoid internal political instability or international isolation,” the book said.
The publication of the book comes as North Korea has threatened to conduct a nuclear test and boasted that it has mastered the technology to make nuclear warheads small enough to fit on a ballistic missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland.
Last week, North Korea’s state news agency said in an English-language commentary that the North “will take countermeasures for self-defense which will include missile launch, nuclear test and all other programs” in response to South Korea-U.S. joint military drills set to begin on Aug. 18.
The North has displayed sensitive reactions to the annual military drills, condemning them as a rehearsal for an invasion of the North. Seoul and Washington say their annual exercises are defensive in nature.
South Korean officials have said North Korea ― which conducted nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013 ― is ready to conduct a fourth nuclear test at any time.
The commentary also said last week that North Korea’s strategic rockets tipped with nuclear warheads are powerful enough to strike the U.S. mainland, a claim that cannot be independently verified.
Outside experts doubt Pyongyang has mastered the miniaturization technology needed to mount a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile.
In the book, South Korea said it will “take more powerful and effective bilateral or multilateral sanctions on North Korea in cooperation with the international community” in case of an additional provocation, an apparent reference to a nuclear test. (Yonhap)