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S. Korea urges int'l community to send 'firm' message on N.K. nuke

All News 16:24 September 28, 2016

SEOUL, Sept. 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's top nuclear envoy has called on the international community to send a "firm" message to North Korea that it will not accept its possession of nuclear weapons, expressing concerns that the North is "at the final stage of nuclear weaponization."

In a speech at the general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency held in Vienna on Tuesday (local time), Kim Hong-kyun, special representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs at South Korea's foreign ministry, also urged the North to abandon all nuclear programs.

"In the face of North Korea's behavior directly defying the IAEA's mission, the international community must send a firm message, with a completely different, renewed sense of urgency, to North Korea that it will never accept the North’s possession of nuclear weapons," Kim said.

"The path North Korea must take is clear: abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner in accordance with relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, and thoroughly fulfilling its obligations under the NPT and IAEA safeguards agreements," he added.

The official said that the current North Korean issue is "unprecedented," suggesting that the window of opportunity to tackle the "extraordinary threats" from the North may be closing.

"Unless we put a brake on Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions now, we will come to regret it tomorrow. This is a chance that should not be missed to get North Korea back to the path of denuclearization through much tougher sanctions as well as heightened pressure," he argued.

Kim, South Korea's top envoy for the six-party talks, then voiced renewed concerns over the North's persistent pursuit of advanced delivery means and repeated nuclear and missile tests.

"North Korea has also been pursuing the advancement of delivery vehicles for its nuclear weapons, as evidenced by the firing of 22 ballistic missiles of all types this year alone," he said "These repeated nuclear and missile tests show that North Korea is now at the final stage of nuclear weaponization."

The multilateral denuclearization talks involving the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia have been stalled since late 2008 when the North walked away from the negotiating table.

South Korea joined the IAEA when it was launched in 1957 to promote the peaceful use of nuclear power and nonproliferation of nuclear weapons. North Korea also joined the agency in 1974 but withdrew in 1994.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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