Moon Sends Mixed Signals Over N.Korea

  • By Jeong Woo-sang

    July 06, 2017 12:05

    President Moon Jae-in continues to send mixed signals over the North Korean nuclear and missile crisis.

    After the North launched an intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday, Moon ordered troops to conduct a drill with the U.S. for a preemptive strike against the North. But no sooner had he arrived for a state visit in Germany than he told reporters a "peaceful resolution through dialogue" is needed. And yet it was Moon who proposed the joint drill to U.S. President Donald Trump as a show of force.

    In a National Security Council meeting after the launch, Moon urged Pyongyang not to pass "the point of no return" and warned Pyongyang of firm retaliation should it cross over the "red line."

    The situation changed for the worse when military analysts briefed Cheong Wa Dae officials that the Hwasong-14 missile the North launched shows that its technology has evolved to a level where it can develop a genuine ICBM with a range of more than 5,500 km.

    A senior Cheong Wa Dae official said, "I believe a decision was reached that more than a verbal warning was needed."

    President Moon Jae-in (second from right) and his wife Kim Jung-sook award a medal at an event in Berlin, Germany on Wednesday to Germans who came to South Korea after the Korean War to help the country rise from the ashes. /Yonhap

    Moon told military brass, "We must fire a missile, so consult with the U.S." and national security adviser Chung Eui-yong spoke over the telephone with his U.S. counterpart H.R. McMaster and received a pledge from Trump to cooperate.

    "We spoke with the U.S. to demonstrate our steadfast will to put up a joint response," the senior Cheong Wa Dae official said. Before boarding his plane to Germany, Moon told top officials that the situation was a "heavy burden."

    But Cheong Wa Dae officials said the ad-hoc drills do not mean a change in Seoul's desire to hold talks with Pyongyang. "We believe the time will come for dialogue when North Korea halts its nuclear provocations," one official said.

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