President Moon Jae-in on Thursday issued a stern warning after North Korea’s new missile test, saying he will never “stand back or compromise” on national security and people’s safety.
Pyongyang fired multiple surface-to-ship cruise missiles from its east coast early in the day, in its fifth round of provocation since Moon was sworn in about a month ago, prompting him to preside over a meeting of the National Security Council for the first time.
President Moon Jae-in presides over a plenary meeting of the National Security Council at Cheong Wa Dae Thursday after North Korea fired missiles. (Yonhap)
“Through such a provocation, North Korea will only gain international isolation and economic difficulties, while losing the opportunity to develop,” the president was quoted as saying at the session, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Park Soo-hyun.
“I declare that our government will never take a step back nor compromise over national security and the people’s safety.”
The North’s ongoing series of missile experiments is casting a shadow on the liberal leader’s vision for reconciliation with the communist neighbor.
The South’s nascent leadership is expected to introduce its detailed North Korea policy in the coming few months, which would top the agenda for a planned summit between Moon and his US counterpart Donald Trump later this month in Washington.
While maintaining a readiness posture against any further provocations, Moon pledged to pursue sanctions and pressure in parallel with the goal of the nuclear program’s “complete dismantlement.”
“Denuclearization is an agreement between the two Koreas and a promise North Korea made to the international community. None of its claims would justify a contravention of that agreement and promise,” the president said.
If the regime changes course and returns to the path toward denuclearization, Seoul will lead the way in rallying global support and cooperation, he said.
Moon instructed related ministries to maintain close consultations with Washington and other partners in order for the international community to ensure a “stern response” to additional provocations.
“At this point, it’s more important than anything else for us to find out creative and essential measures to resolve the nuclear problem,” he said.
“We should gather wisdom to come up with an idea that could bring about a change in the North’s attitude and ultimately achieve a complete disarmament of its nuclear program.”
By Shin Hyon-hee (email@example.com