Stuck in an illusionDespite repeated warnings about North Korea’s persistent rush to nuclear armaments, President Moon Jae-in underscored the need for a declaration to end the Korean War at the United Nations. In a keynote speech on Tuesday during the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, he proposed a joint proclamation to end the war by South and North Korea and the United States or by the two Koreas, the U.S. and China. Only when the concerned parties make a declaration, irreversible progress in denuclearization and complete peace can arrive, he stressed. Just a day before Moon’s address to the UN, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi warned about the extraction of plutonium and enriched uranium continuing at full speed in the North to advance its nuclear program.
The proposal Moon made in likely his last UN speech is totally detached from reality. His effort to improve inter-Korean relations over the last four years can be recognized. But North Korea did not comply with the international society’s demand for denuclearization. Instead, it has been engrossed with developing various types of intercontinental ballistic missiles, super-large multiple rocket launchers and cruise missiles. North Korea even demolished the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong last year to protest the dispatching of propaganda leaflets by North Korean defectors in the South.
Pyongyang is accelerating its nuclear armaments after declaring its status as a nuclear state. Its ambition to communize South Korea has not changed. If a head of state talks about peace under such circumstances, that’s a serious miscalculation.
North Korea is briskly engaged in nuclear activities. According to the IAEA and other North Korea watchers, the country is expanding its uranium enrichment facility inside the Yongbyon nuclear compound. If the job is completed, North Korea can produce 25 percent more enriched uranium. On Sept. 13, IAEA head Grossi expressed deep concern about Pyongyang’s “clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions” after confirming signs of its reactivation of the spent fuel reprocessing facility and uranium enrichment facility at Yongbyon. Nevertheless, Moon brushed it off.
The nuclear clock is ticking. North Korea wants to increase its nuclear weapons. It is no time for Moon to adhere to a declaration to end the war. That is not an issue he can finish during his term. Such a declaration is only possible when North Korea is completely denuclearized or South Korea has its own nuclear deterrence. We hope Moon helps curb the North’s nuclear threats based on our alliance with the United States if he really wants to establish peace on the peninsula.