South Korean President Moon says there will be no war on Korean peninsula

South Korean President Moon Jae In (right) shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before their summit talks in Vladivostok, Russia, on Sept 7, 2017.
South Korean President Moon Jae In (right) shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before their summit talks in Vladivostok, Russia, on Sept 7, 2017. PHOTO: EPA

TOKYO (REUTERS, AFP) - South Korean President Moon Jae In said on Thursday (Sept 7) there will not be war on the Korea peninsula, even though tensions have risen considerably since North Korea’s latest nuclear test less than a week ago.

Moon said he was having discussions with the leaders of Russia, Japan and the United States about how to resolve the crisis over North Korea’s weapons programme.

Speaking at an economic forum in the Russian Pacific port of Vladivostok, Moon said the leaders need to discuss proposed new sanctions on North Korea, which he said were intended to achieve a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Moon and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in talks on the sidelines of the forum, said earlier they had agreed to step up pressure on North Korea, Kyodo reported, as the reclusive state pushes ahead with its nuclear and missile programmes. The two countries said they would ask China and Russia for their support for the new sanctions against North Korea, Kyodo reported, citing a Japanese official.

Meanwhile, Abe on Thursday called for the world to put the “greatest possible pressure” on North Korea. “The international community must unite in applying the greatest possible pressure on North Korea,” Abe said just four days after Pyongyang staged its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date, which it described as a “perfect success”.

“We must make North Korea immediately and fully comply with all relevant UN Security Council resolutions and abandon all its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner,” Abe insisted. “North Korea is escalating an overt challenge to the peace, prosperity, law and order of the region and indeed the entire world.” 

The South Korean president said that “perhaps the time has come for stronger sanctions” on Pyongyang. 

Earlier Thursday, South Korea's foreign ministry spokesman Cho June Hyuck told reporters practical and forceful measures than can inflict pain on the North should be included in the United Nations sanctions, a new batch of which have yet to be announced.  

The measures should be taken in addition to “surely severing” funds that can be used for the North’s programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction.  

South Korea has pushed for moves to cut off Pyongyang’s key supplies of fuel oil, but Russia has dismissed such a call, while China has also been reluctant to take measures that could trigger instability or a refugee exodus on its frontier.

On Wednesday, Washington demanded an oil embargo on Pyongyang and a freeze on the foreign assets of its leader Kim Jong Un in a dramatic bid to force an end to the perilous nuclear stand-off.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, on Thursday again brushed off the call for tighter sanctions by Moon, saying Pyongyang could not be intimidated. 

Putin said that imposing tighter sanctions was not the way forward.  “It is impossible to intimidate them,” said the Russian leader. “But I am convinced that we can avoid a large-scale conflict involving weapons of mass destruction and that we can resolve the problem by diplomatic means,” said Putin.  “I hope that common sense prevails and the quicker that happens, the better.”