May 10, 2019 10:21
President Moon Jae-in said Thursday that North Korea's latest missile provocations "bear the hallmarks of a form of protest against [South] Korea and the U.S."
"They appear to be a form of pressure tactic to steer future denuclearization talks in their direction," Moon told KBS in an interview marking his second year in office.
"But I don't think North Korea's latest series of projectile launches are violations of inter-Korean military agreements, because they occurred outside of the zone" where the two Koreas agreed not to conduct any military maneuvers.
More controversially, Moon seemed to offer his own idiosyncratic interpretation of what constitutes a missile.
"The North's projectile launch [on May 4] cannot be viewed as involving missiles, since the altitude was low and distance was too short, but [South] Korea and the U.S. are analyzing it," he said. But he added, "Today's launch is presumed to have been short-range missiles due to the long distance in spite of low altitude."
On May 4, Moon also tried to wiggle out of admitting that the North launched ballistic missiles, despite statements to the contrary from the U.S. and Japan.
Yet the president warned that even short-range projectiles could be considered violations of UN Security Council sanctions if they are ballistic missiles and added, "I am warning North Korea that its mistakes could make negotiations and dialogue difficult."
Moon remained determined to send food aid to the North. "We cannot ignore the food shortage affecting our compatriots in the North, and we need to offer food aid from a humanitarian perspective," he said, adding that such aid "could have the effect of slightly easing the stalemate in talks."
But he admitted that any shipment would require the support of the South Korean public considering the North's latest provocations.
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