SEOUL (REUTERS/AFP/Korea Herald/Asia News Network) - South Korean President Moon Jae In said on Thursday (Aug 17) that Washington has promised to seek Seoul’s approval before pursuing any option against nuclear-armed North Korea, adding that there should be no war on the Korean peninsula.
“No one can make a decision on military action on the Korean peninsula without our agreement,” he said. “The US and President (Donald) Trump also said, no matter what option they take about North Korea, all decisions will be made after consulting with and getting agreement with the Republic of Korea,” Mr Moon said.
Tensions have soared, with Pyongyang threatening to send a salvo of missiles towards the US territory of Guam – although it appears to have backed off for now. President Trump had also promised “fire and fury” and said that Washington’s weapons were “locked and loaded”.
However, the remarks do not appear to have been made with the intention to take military action, Mr Moon said at a news conference to mark his first 100 days in office.
Mr Moon urged North Korea not to make further provocations, saying it would face much tougher sanctions that the impoverished country would be unable to withstand if it persists with its nuclear weapons development.
Inter-Korean dialogue should resume, he said, but added that there was no need to hurry.
For talks to take place, he said, “there must be a guarantee that it will lead to a fruitful outcome.
“North Korea must at least end additional provocations to create the mood for dialogue.”
Only then could Seoul consider sending an envoy to the North, he added.
“The red line would be North Korea completing its ICBM and mounting it with a nuclear warhead and weaponising it,” he added.
“All South Koreans have worked so hard together to rebuild the country from the ruins of the Korean War,” Mr Moon said. “I will prevent war at all cost... So I want all South Koreans to believe with confidence that there will be no war.”
On the appointments of top-ranking officials, Mr Moon said his selection is balanced. Some of his appointees for top posts in the government had stepped down due to their past wrongdoings or scandals.
In previous administrations, there were some attempts to manipulate state-run media, Mr Moon noted, and said that he would make efforts to set up a system to ensure the independence of the media.
The President said that increasing taxes would be considered only after a public consensus is formed in favour of such a measure.
Stabilising the real estate market is crucial because people face “crazy rent”, Mr Moon said. The Moon administration recently took measures to tame the overheating real estate market, but some question whether more steps should be taken to cool down the market.
On comfort women and forced labour, Mr Moon said that the comfort women issue was not discussed in the past agreement between South Korea and Japan.
The term “comfort women” is a euphemism for the estimated 200,000 women who were forced into the sex trade by the Japanese military during World War II.
Mr Moon stressed on Thursday, however, that past history issues should not hinder the future-oriented relations between South Korea and Japan.
In Beijing, top Chinese general Fan Changlong also said on Thursday (Aug 17) that military measures must not become an option on the Korean peninsula. Speaking during a meeting in Beijing with Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, the vice-chairman of China’s powerful Central Military Commission said dialogue was the only effective way to resolve tensions, according to a statement from China’s Defence Ministry.