NATIONAL

Opposition leader urges Moon to keep military options against NK threats

By Yonhap
  • Published : Nov 30, 2017 - 11:40
  • Updated : Nov 30, 2017 - 11:44
The leader of the minor opposition Bareun Party raised pressure on President Moon Jae-in on Thursday to remain open to military options as "strategic cards" to counter North Korea's escalating nuclear threats.

Yoo Seong-min made the remarks a day after Moon clarified his opposition to Washington's possible recourse to a pre-emptive strike following the North's pre-dawn test of another long-range missile capable of striking the continental United States.

"The redeployment of US tactical nuclear arms or the sharing of control of nuclear weapons should now be considered as strategic cards," Yoo said during a meeting with party seniors.

Yoo Seong-min (R), the leader of the minor opposition Bareun Party, speaks during a party meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul on Nov. 30, 2017. (Yonhap)

"When (South Korea) shows that its military options remain alive, Pyongyang can be pressured to come out to the dialogue table, and strong sanctions and pressure can become effective," he added.

After a 75-day lull, the North fired off a missile from the vicinity of Pyongsong, South Pyongan Province, at around 3:17 a.m. Wednesday, Seoul's military said. It flew 960 kilometers at an apogee of around 4,500 km. Hours later, Pyongyang claimed a successful test of a new ICBM called the Hwasong-15.

Following the latest provocation, Yoo's conservative party sharply criticized Moon's pursuit of cross-border dialogue and rapprochement, and urged him to toughen his stance on the wayward neighbor.

The party has long demanded that the president consider a tit-for-tat nuclear option against the North, such as sharing control of US nuclear arms under a deal similar to Washington's arrangements with some of its NATO allies, such as Germany, Italy and Belgium.

But the government has ruled out any nuclear option, sticking to its nonproliferation principle and stressing that its own nuclear armament would derail hopes for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.

Yoo also upbraided Moon for publicly opposing any possible pre-emptive strike by the US.

"His public remarks apparently against US military options underscore the serious status of the South Korea-US alliance," he said.

Pyongyang's breakneck push to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile has spawned concerns in the South, escalating calls for stronger security cooperation with Washington and a bolstering of Seoul's independent military capabilities.

Observers say the prospect of an ICBM attack could lead Washington to dither on whether to immediately defend its ally in an attack, given that any military action could put densely populated US cities at risk.

Some believe the North has been sticking to the ICBM program in part to "decouple" the allies by posing a direct threat to US security. But the allies have reaffirmed their resolve against Pyongyang's military adventurism. (Yonhap)