Moon says South Korea will neither develop nor possess nuclear weapons

South Korean President Moon Jae In and Defense Minister Song review the troops during a commemoration ceremony marking South Korea's Armed Forces Day.
South Korean President Moon Jae In and Defense Minister Song review the troops during a commemoration ceremony marking South Korea's Armed Forces Day.PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korea will neither develop nor possess nuclear weapons, President Moon Jae In said on Wednesday (Nov 1) in a speech to parliament.

“A push by North Korea to become a nuclear state cannot be accepted or tolerated,” Moon said in an address to parliament.

“We also will not develop or own nuclear” arms.

His comments came after the opposition parties called for a redeployment of US tactical nuclear to the country in the face of growing missile and nuclear threat from North Korea.

Such a call quickly gained momentum after the North staged its sixth and most powerful nuclear test so far on Sept 6.

Last month (Sept), South Korea's defence minister suggested it was worth reviewing the redeployment of US tactical nuclear weapons on the peninsula in order to deter threats from the North, something conservative US Senator John McCain said should be "seriously considered".

Opposition lawmaker Hong Joon Pyo, head of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, even flew to the United States last week on a personal mission to convince US policymakers to consider redeploying US tactical nuclear arms to South Korea.

The US had about 100 nuclear- armed weapons stationed in South Korea until 1991, when the US withdrew all tactical nuclear weapons deployed abroad.

Mr Moon has said earlier in media interviews that Seoul is not considering a redeployment of tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea.

His national address on Wednesday (Nov 1) came as the government was set to submit its budget Bill to the parliament, requesting a 7.1 per cent spike in its spending to 429 trillion won (S$523.7 billion) in 2018.

Mr Moon has earlier called for an overhaul of military spending that would better equip Seoul to check Pyongyang's threats.

He said on Wednesday the government's foremost goal was to establish peace.

"What we want to realise is peace on the Korean Peninsula. Therefore, there can never be any armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula under any circumstances. There cannot be any military action on the Korean Peninsula without a prior consent of the Republic of Korea," he said, referring to his country by its official name.

However, the president vowed maximum retaliation against any military provocation from the North.

"To this end, we must secure overwhelming power. We will also closely work with the international community, based on the strong Korea-US alliance," Moon said.

He also stressed the importance of maintaining what he has called maximum pressure and sanctions on the North, calling them a way to bring North Korea to the dialogue table, reported Yonhap.

"We must decide the fate of our own nation," the president said. "We will not repeat the unfortunate history of having our fate decided regardless of our wishes, such as the (Japanese) colonial rule (of Korea) and the division (of the two Koreas)."