Alexa

SKorea warns of 'shift' in its policy toward NKorea in case of nuclear test

SKorea warns of 'shift' in its policy toward NKorea in case of nuclear test

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun called Wednesday for a "cool-headed and stern" response to North Korea's threat to conduct a nuclear test, his office said.
Roh made the remark after being briefed on the outcome of an emergency meeting of security ministers, the presidential office said. It was Roh's first comment since North Korea said Tuesday it would test a nuclear bomb at an unspecified date.
Further details on Roh's comments were not immediately available.
Earlier in the day, South Korea urged the North to withdraw the test plan and return to international disarmament talks on its nuclear program, warning a test could bring about a "shift" in inter-Korean relations.
But Foreign Ministry spokesman Choo Kyu-ho stressed Seoul is not considering abandoning its engagement policy with North Korea.
"There could be a shift in our policy toward North Korea if North Korea conducts a test, but that doesn't mean at all that we're going to abandon our engagement policy."
South Korea has consistently pursued dialogue with North Korea since their leaders first met in a historic summit in 2000. That approach has caused a rift with Washington that favors a harder line toward the communist regime.
Seoul is one of the main aid providers to the impoverished North.
North Korea said Tuesday that it would conduct a nuclear explosion to prove the country is a nuclear power. Pyongyang has since last year claimed it has atomic bombs, but hasn't performed any known test to verify that.
South Korea urged the North to renounce the test plan and immediately return to six-party talks on its nuclear program.
"We express grave concern and regret," said Choo, after the country held an emergency meeting of security ministers. "If North Korea pushes ahead with a nuclear test, North Korea should take full responsibility for all consequences."
The North's statement further spiked the already high tension in the region in the wake of the North's test-firing of a series of missiles in July.
Six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program have been stalled since November last year as Pyongyang refuses to attend in anger over U.S. efforts to cut off the North's access to international banking over the country's alleged financial wrongdoing. The talks involve China, Japan, Koreas, Russia and the United States.
The North's announcement prompted South Korea to raise its security level and spurred strong condemnation from countries around the world. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said a North Korean nuclear test would be "a very provocative act."
The North Korean nuclear crisis flared in late 2002 after Washington accused the North of running a clandestine atomic bomb program in violation of its pledge not to do so. Pyongyang denies the claim.
The two Koreas are still technically at war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. But their relations warmed significantly after the 2000 summit.


Updated : 2021-04-13 10:24 GMT+08:00