September 15, 2017 09:24
President Moon Jae-in on Thursday ruled out the redeployment of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea.
In an interview with CNN on the eve of his trip to the UN General Assembly in New York, Moon warned the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons here could lead to a nuclear arms race in Northeast Asia.
He said his government will continue to make thorough preparations for North Korean provocations until Pyongyang freezes its nuclear and missile programs and reiterated that the North is developing such weapons to guarantee the safety of the regime.
"I do not agree that South Korea needs to develop our own nuclear weapons or relocate tactical nuclear weapons in the face of North Korea's nuclear threat," he said.
Cheong Wa Dae has repeatedly said it is not considering their redeployment here even as senior voices in the U.S. said the option should be on the table.
Asked if he feels the South needs a nuclear deterrent to defend itself in the face of the North Korean nuclear threat, Moon said, "To respond to North Korea by having our own nuclear weapons will not maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula and could lead to a nuclear arms race in Northeast Asia."
Moon explained that his government continues to try and balance sanctions with proposals for dialogue with North Korea and vowed to maintain a strong defensive posture until the North halts its nuclear and missile provocations. South Korea "needs to develop our military capabilities in the face of North Korea's nuclear advancement," he added.
Moon said the "unanimous decision" of the UN Security Council to tighten sanctions against North Korea is the most important factor in detaining the North and warned that the international community will impose a stronger oil embargo in case of continued provocations.
He said that China and Russia are engaged in unofficial oil trade besides their official shipments to North Korea and added that if the two enforce the UN sanctions "faithfully," the unofficial trade can be stopped.
Touching on the South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, which President Donald Trump wants to revise, Moon expressed concern that Trump is talking down the pact and threatening to scrap it even before full-fledged negotiations have started. He added that Seoul is ready to engage in sincere talks to address Washington's concerns.
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