Kim Jong-un, leader of hermit nation North Korea, has suggested he could order new nuclear tests or intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launches for the first time since 2017
Image: via REUTERS)
North Korea poses a “direct and serious threat” with its deadly nuclear-capable missiles and a resumption of tests would “instantly” send the peninsula back into crisis, terrified neighbors South Korea has warned.
The hermit nation boasted earlier this week that it is one of only a handful of countries in the world to have nuclear weapons and advanced missiles and the only one standing up to the United States by “shaking the world”.
It was a record month of missile testing in January and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has suggested he could order new nuclear tests or intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launches for the first time since 2017.
International tension has been rising over a series of North Korean ballistic missile tests, actions long banned by the UN Security Council.
An excerpt of a confidential United Nations report said that North Korea continued to develop its nuclear and ballistic missile programs during the past year and cyberattacks on cryptocurrency exchanges were an important revenue source for Pyongyang.
On Wednesday, South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook said the launches posed a “direct and serious threat”.
And the next day, President Moon added: “If North Korea’s series of missile launches goes as far as scrapping a moratorium on long-range missile tests, the Korean Peninsula may instantly fall back into the state of crisis we faced five years ago.
“Preventing such a crisis through persistent dialogue and diplomacy will be the task that political leaders in the countries concerned must fulfill together.”
Moon admitted it is unlikely a last-minute summit with Kim or the adoption of his proposal for a declaration ending the 1950-1953 Korean War would happen before he leaves office in May.
Still, he said the United States and South Korea have agreed on the text of the declaration, and that a summit between Kim and US President Joe Biden “is just a matter of time” if all sides wish to avoid a crisis.
“Since dialogue is the only way to resolve problems, a meeting between President Biden and Chairman Kim is expected to take place eventually,” he said.
Moon has pushed for a formal end to the Korean War to replace the armistice that stopped the fighting but left it and the US-led UN Command still technically at war.
“I would at least like to make conditions ripe for an end-of-war declaration and pass that on to the next administration,” he said.
Despite the stalled talks and increase in tensions, Moon says “necessary communication” with Kim has continued.
“We cannot afford to give up this task,” he said.