Top South Korean presidential nominee talks Pyongyang threat

Henrietta Brewer
April 28, 2017

USA officials have warned any near-term conflict with North Korea could have a devastating effect on ally South Korea, a point Pyongyang underscored by a big live-fire exercise on Tuesday to mark the foundation of its military.

The remark appeared to send a signal to voters ahead of the May 9 election that even a liberal administration under the Democratic Party nominee would not tolerate bad behavior from the communist state.

"If North Korea carries out a sixth nuclear test, cross-border dialogue will be impossible for a time, and given the single, five-year term (of a president), it will effectively be hard to improve inter-Korean ties under the next administration", he said during a debate hosted by the Korea Broadcasting Journalists Club.

Another point to the Trump administration's worldwide focus may be to "pregame the Security Council" to act swiftly and forcefully when - virtually all experts say it is no longer a matter of "if" - North Korea conducts either its sixth nuclear test or another missile launch, Dr. Cha says.

Moon, the favored contender for the top office, has been regarded by conservatives as being soft on Pyongyang. In Berlin Wednesday, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said North Korea must suspend its nuclear activities, but "on the other side, the large-scale military maneuvers in Korean waters should be halted".

The North Korean regime considers its survival dependent on possession of nuclear weapons, and will expend considerable resources to resist pressures to limit its weapons program.

"We are engaging responsible members of the global community to increase pressure on the DPRK in order to convince the regime to de-escalate and return to the path of dialogue", the statement read, using North Korea's official name. The threat would extend to nearby Japan, another country North Korea regularly threatens.

"In confronting the reckless North Korean regime, it's critical that we're guided by a strong sense of resolve, both privately and publicly, both diplomatically and militarily", Harris said. "It was a way of appeasing the North in case it protested afterward, and a sophisticated diplomatic move".

The testimony was the latest sobering reminder of growing USA alarm about North Korean capabilities, as President Donald Trump signals a willingness to use force, if needed, should diplomatic efforts fail to constrain Pyongyang.

Amid the heightened tensions, United States forces have begun installing a more advanced system for tracking and intercepting ballistic missiles than South Korea's current network of shorter-range Patriot batteries can hit.

North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons is an urgent national security threat and the U.S. will exert pressure through diplomatic measures and tighter economic sanctions, the Trump administration has said.

South Korea on Wednesday moved parts of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to its deployment site on a golf course about 250 km (155 miles) south of the capital, Seoul, signalling faster installation.

Separately, a senior administration official told AFP that the United States is considering adding North Korea to its list of countries that are designated as "state sponsors of terrorism".

Pressed by legislators, Harris would not discuss publicly scenarios for a pre-emptive strike against North Korea, though he did address the risk that USA action could be met by a response that would kill many South Koreans, Japanese and United States troops in the region.

China says the system's advanced radar can penetrate deep into its territory and undermine its security.

Harris also called the construction of DPRK ballistic missiles capable of threatening the United States "a matter of when".

Admiral Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command, told Congress the US would be ready "with the best technology" to defeat any North Korean missile threats.

Other reports by iNewsToday