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Defense chief calls for 'resolute, unified' int'l efforts against N.K. threats, cautions against 'inactivity'

All News 14:12 June 03, 2023

By Chae Yun-hwan

SINGAPORE, June 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup on Saturday called for "resolute and unified" international efforts against North Korea's growing military threats, decrying the recalcitrant regime as "the only country that threatens a preemptive nuclear attack."

Speaking at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, he also warned against "inactivity" in an apparent allusion to the repeated failures to adopt new U.N. Security Council (UNSC) resolutions on North Korean provocations due to opposition from the North's two traditional partners: China and Russia.

Lee used the forum in the city-state to rally international support for reining in the North's persistent military threats, casting it as a "shared" challenge that affects the "entire world."

"If North Korea conducts additional provocations, such as a nuclear test and ICBM launch, we must demonstrate the international community's resolute and unified strength by passing UNSC resolutions," he said. "With such a united action, we need to change the Kim regime's calculations."

He pointed out that "some countries" are ignoring the North's "unlawful" behaviors, creating holes in the enforcement of UNSC sanctions resolutions.

"Choosing inactivity to (address) North Korea's unlawful behaviors will worsen the security landscape of not only the Korean Peninsula and the Indo-Pacific region but also the entire world," he said. "I ask that we combine our strength to create a change against threats by North Korea, a state turning the Pacific into its firing range."

Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup speaks during the main session of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 3, 2023. (Yonhap)

Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup speaks during the main session of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 3, 2023. (Yonhap)

Highlighting the North's mounting nuclear threats, Lee pointed to its completion of preparations for a new nuclear test and its adoption of an aggressive nuclear policy that apparently leaves open the possibility of a preemptive nuclear strike.

"North Korea is the only country that threatens a preemptive attack with nuclear weapons against a specific country," he said.

In the face of the nuclear threats, strengthening security cooperation among Seoul, Washington and Tokyo is an "inevitable" measure to protect regional peace and freedom, he stressed.

Lee then took a swipe at the North's human rights situation.

"The Kim regime, obsessed solely with advancing nuclear and missile capabilities, is turning a blind eye to the lives of its people, who suffer from a food shortage and economic crisis," he said. "Had the Kim regime used the money on purchasing food instead of spending it on developing nuclear weapons and missiles last year, the North Korean people would not be starving as they are today."

The minister, however, held out hope for a "bright future" that would come "if they open the door for dialogue and choose a novel path."

"Our government will deter North Korea's nuclear and missile threats with strong power, and actively draw North Korea towards its complete denuclearization through dialogue and diplomacy," he said.


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