Seoul, South Korea (CNN) South Korea’s foreign minister told CNN in an exclusive interview that North Korea is a “clear and present danger.”
Foreign Minister Park Jin said on Wednesday that Kim Jong Un’s repeated missile tests and repeated warnings that he would consider using tactical nuclear weapons were a show of aggression and that the only way to counter that was through expanded US deterrence.
“What North Korea is doing is completely wrong,” Park said. “They are escalating nuclear and missile threats and threaten the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia,” he added.
Just last week, North Korea did Tested an intercontinental ballistic missile, which could theoretically be used to strike nearly anywhere in the world, and nuclear-capable long-range multiple missile launchers—the equivalent of a short-range ballistic missile—which could strike anywhere in South Korea. those followed A record year for missile testing in 2022, When Pyongyang tested missiles in 37 days, according to a CNN count, it was all in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.
After the missile was launched on Monday, Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un’s sister, warned against further missile tests To come unless the United States stops military exercises with South Korea, and threatens to make the Pacific Ocean a “shooting range”.
But Park noted that such hostilities would only strengthen South Korea’s alliance with the United States.
U.S. “extended deterrence” is “the only way we can effectively protect our country from North Korean aggression,” Park said, adding that strengthening such deterrence would include “effective deployment of U.S. strategic assets” as well as drills and training.
On the same day that Park was speaking, guided missile destroyers from both countries joined other destroyers from Japan in a ballistic missile defense exercise in the waters between Japan and the Korean peninsula.
Park has shown little hope for any early easing of tensions with North Korea, saying there are no active negotiations and that Kim will not give up his nuclear weapons voluntarily.
Park said the North Korean leader must be convinced that talks are his only option.
“We have to create an environment in which North Korea has no choice but to return to the negotiating table,” he said.
Park said that experience has shown that Kim will not negotiate when he feels weak in his opponents, citing the failed negotiations that occurred during the administration of former US President Donald Trump.
“The lesson we learned is that when we are strong…North Korea comes to the table for dialogue. And when we are weak, they try to take advantage of that weakness. So we have to prepare ourselves through our defense and also through deterrence we talk to the North.”
Park also said South Korea’s security challenges extend far beyond the Korean peninsula, including a thousand miles to the south across the Taiwan Strait.
“Peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait are essential to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, and indispensable to the security and prosperity of the entire region,” Park said.
China’s ruling Communist Party has been pressuring the self-ruled island of Taiwan for months. It considers the island part of its territory, although it never controlled it, and Chinese leader Xi Jinping has repeatedly refused to rule out the use of force in its “reunification” with the Chinese mainland.
Park said that could have a “direct impact” on South Korea.
“We oppose unilateral change of the status quo by force. In this sense, we will make sure that if something happens in the Taiwan Strait, we must maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.” He said.
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