North Korea repeatedly flaunts that it intends to develop a missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland. The latest defiance came on Sunday; with a ballistic missile launch, ignoring the UN Security Council recommendation.
The South Korean president declared support for a two-track policy – sanctions and dialogue – to denuclearize the North. Moon also noted the seemingly significant advancement in the North’s nuclear and missile capabilities.
The South currently hosts 28,500 U.S. troops. The troops’ presence were prompted by the Korean War; primarily to guard against the North Korean threat.
South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Lee Duk-haeng told reporters that the government’s most basic stance is that communication lines between the South and North Korea be reopened. “The Unification Ministry has considered options on this internally, but nothing has been decided yet,” said Lee.
Communications were severed last year, Lee said, in the wake of new sanctions following a fifth nuclear test and Pyongyang’s decision to shut down a joint industrial zone operated inside the North.
Yesterday, the U.S. said it could persuade China to impose new UN sanctions on North Korea. U.S. Disarmament Ambassador Robert Wood added that China’s leverage with the North was significant and they should be impressed to do more.
Speaking to reporters ahead of a closed-door UN Security Council meeting, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley made it clear that Washington would only communicate with North Korea if it halted the nuclear program.