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(3rd LD) Park warns of pressure on N. Korea unless it shows commitment to denuclearization

All News 15:43 March 01, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with U.N. Security Council vote scheduled on Tuesday in New York)
SEOUL, March 1 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye vowed Tuesday to put pressure on North Korea unless Pyongyang abandons its nuclear program and ends its provocative behavior.

"We and the international community will continue to put pressure on North Korea unless the North shows its commitment to denuclearization... though our government will not shut the door for dialogue," Park said in a televised speech marking the 97th anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement.

The Independence Movement on March 1, 1919 paved the way for Korea's independence from Japanese colonial rule, which lasted from 1910-45.

Park said South Korea and the international community should make North Korea recognize that its nuclear weapons cannot "maintain its regime" and are "meaningless."

Last month, Park warned that North Korea's nuclear program "will only hasten its collapse." It marked the first time that she Park has mentioned a regime collapse.

The North has repeatedly pledged to boost its nuclear capability, viewing its nuclear program as a powerful deterrent against what it claims is Washington's hostile policy towards it.

Park said a draft U.N. Security Council resolution on North Korea represents the stern will of the international community to make North Korea pay the price for its recent provocations.

The council is set to vote on the resolution at 3 p.m. on Tuesday (5:00 a.m. Korean time on Wednesday), said an official at the South Korean mission to the U.N., adding that a draft resolution has already been circulated among council members.

The official also said Russia and 14 other members of the council endorse the text, a move that suggest that the council can unanimously adopt the resolution.

Russia had put a last-minute hold on it, saying it needs time to review the proposed resolution that was worked out between the United States and China.

Winning Russian support is a must for the resolution's adoption as Moscow is one of the five permanent veto-wielding members of the council. The four other council members -- the U.S., China, Britain and France -- endorsed the text.

The draft resolution requires U.N. member countries to inspect all cargo going in and out of North Korea. It also bans the North's exports of coal, iron and other mineral resources, a key source of hard currency that accounts for nearly half of the country's total exports.

Still, it remains unclear whether the new resolution would make any difference in North Korea, which it claims has been under sanctions for decades.

North Korea has already been under U.N. sanctions for its three previous nuclear tests, with one each in 2006, 2009 and 2013, though they have failed to deter North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

Touching on Japan, Park called on Tokyo to faithfully implement the terms of December's landmark deal on resolving the issue of the Korean women forced into sexual slavery for Japanese troops during World War II.

Under the December pact, Japan formally apologized for its past actions and offered 1 billion yen (US$8.29 million) in reparations. South Korea agreed to end the dispute once and for all if Japan fully implements the deal.

Park vowed to make the utmost efforts to help victims restore their honor and heal their scars. She also promised to expand substantial assistance to victims, though she did not elaborate.

South Korean victims are dying off. In 2007, more than 120 known South Korean victims were alive, but the number has since dropped to 44, with their average age standing at 89.

Japan has recently denied the forced nature of its military's sex slavery of Asian women during World War II in a written answer to questions from a U.N. committee.

Historians estimate that more than 200,000 women, mostly from Korea, were forced to work in front-line brothels for the Japanese military during the war. Korea was under Japanese colonial rule from 1910-45.

In Geneva, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for the "faithful implementation" of the landmark agreement between South Korea and Japan.

The December deal "highlights the need to address the pain of the victims, no matter how many years have passed," Ban said at a high-level panel discussion at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday, according to a transcript of his speech posted on the U.N. website.

"I hope the faithful implementation of the agreement, guided by the recommendations of U.N. Human Rights mechanisms, will help such wounds to be healed," he said.


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