South threatens more sanctions for nuclear test

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South threatens more sanctions for nuclear test

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Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, left and President Lee Myung-bak, right, yesterday attend a National Security Council meeting. [Joint Press Corps]

Ratcheting up the alert over an imminent North Korean nuclear weapons test, President Lee Myung-bak convened a top security meeting with ministerial-level officials yesterday and decided to impose stronger sanctions on Pyongyang than the newly approved United Nations Security Council Resolution 2087 if the North goes ahead with a nuclear test.

“The government is discussing with concerned countries what measures to take if North Korea conducts a nuclear weapons test,” a South Korean government official told the JoongAng Ilbo after the meeting. “As Beijing considers a nuclear test more serious than a missile test, we expect China would show a more active participation in additional resolutions.”

The high-ranking officials attending the meeting of the National Security Council included Kim Kwan-jin, minister of defense; Yu Woo-ik, minister of unification; Won Sei-hoon, chief of the National Intelligence Service; Ha Kum-loul, chief of the presidential staff; and Chun Yung-woo, presidential senior secretary for foreign and security affairs.

“President Lee ordered Defense Minister Kim to take strong countermeasures against North Korea, which is making broad threats to stage further military provocations including a nuclear test during the administrative transition of the [South Korean] government,” the Blue House said in a statement yesterday.

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“If North Korea once again commits a provocation by misjudging the situation, it would trigger a very grave result,” the statement warned. It urged Pyongyang to “immediately halt all provocative words and actions and abide by international obligations including the United Nations Security Counsel resolutions.”

With less than a month before the inauguration of incoming President Park Geun-hye, Lee’s administration “will remain thoroughly vigilant to national security until the last day of his term,” the statement promised.

Lee also urged officials to “closely cooperate with UN Security Council members” in dealing with North Korean affairs, the Blue House said, as South Korea will assume the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council for a month starting today, which allows it to convene an emergency council meeting at any time.

After the meeting, Defense Minister Kim paid a visit to the 25th Infantry Division in Yeoncheon, Gyeonggi, a western border region with North Korea, and discussed deploying longer-range ballistic missiles.

Last October, the South Korean military was allowed to extend its long-range ballistic missile range to 800 kilometers (497 miles) from 300 kilometers by amending the Korea-U.S. missile range pact.

“He will definitely do it,” a South Korean government official told the Korea JoongAng Daily yesterday about Kim Jong-un’s threat to test a nuclear device. “All the preparations were completed, and the only thing left is his political decision.”

But the official said there were no unusual movements of North Korean troops near the border.



By Kim Hee-jin, Ko Jeong-ae [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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