World grits teeth after North passes law about nuke strikes

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World grits teeth after North passes law about nuke strikes

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un delivers remarks during a meeting of the North's rubber-stamp parliament, the Supreme People’s Assembly, last Thursday. The country's state-run Korean Central News Agency on Friday quoted Kim as saying that his nuclear weapons weren't up for negotiation. [YONHAP]

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un delivers remarks during a meeting of the North's rubber-stamp parliament, the Supreme People’s Assembly, last Thursday. The country's state-run Korean Central News Agency on Friday quoted Kim as saying that his nuclear weapons weren't up for negotiation. [YONHAP]

Seoul said it's maintaining its North Korea denuclearization policy even after Pyongyang adopted a law on the use of preemptive nuclear strikes for self-defense.
 
“Our government is determined to pursue North Korea’s complete denuclearization,” a spokesperson for Seoul’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told local reporters on Friday, shortly after Pyongyang’s state-run media ran a report on the new law.
 
Seoul will “unwaveringly take a holistic approach to deter North Korea’s nuclear threat and nuclear development," the spokesperson continued, "and pursue denuclearization through dialogue and diplomacy.”
 
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol's office hasn't released any statement on the issue, but his People Power Party called the North’s new law “deeply regrettable.”
 
Last Thursday, North Korea’s rubber-stamp parliament, the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), adopted a new law stipulating that the North will “automatically and immediately” launch a nuclear strike to attack the origin of any provocation if the “command and control system” of its nuclear forces is in danger of an attack, an apparent reference to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, according to an English-language report from the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
 
The law states that a nuclear strike could be triggered if an attack on its nuclear weapons were imminent; if the country or its people were under threat; or to gain the upper hand during war.
 
The KCNA said the law was passed last Thursday during a SPA meeting that was held just before the 74th anniversary of North Korea’s founding on Friday.
 
During the meeting, Kim was quoted by the KCNA as saying that there will be “absolutely no denuclearization, no negotiation and no bargaining chip to trade.” He said he would not surrender his nuclear weapons even if his country faced 100 years of sanctions.
 
“The aim of the United States is not just to eliminate our nuclear weapons themselves but also ultimately to bring down our regime anytime,” Kim said.
 
For the North’s nuclear policy to be adjusted, the “political and military environment” around the Korean Peninsula must change, Kim said.
 
In response to North Korea’s new law, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a media briefing in Washington on Friday that the United States would maintain its policy as well.
 
“The United States remains focused on continuing to coordinate closely with our allies and partners to address the threats posed by DPRK and to advance our shared objective of the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” she said.
 
DPRK is short for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
 
“We have no hostile intent toward the DPRK,” the press secretary added. “We continue to seek diplomacy and are prepared to meet without preconditions. The DPRK continues to not respond.”
 
Kim’s remarks at the SPA meeting were made on the same day that South Korean Unification Minister Kwon Young-se proposed inter-Korean talks to hold reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.
 
The two Koreas have held 21 rounds of family reunions since the historic 2000 summit between South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
 
But no meetings of separated family members have taken place since 2018 when 89 elderly South Koreans met with their 185 North Korean relatives at the Mount Kumgang resort in North Korea.
 
According to the Unification Ministry, nearly 70 percent of 133,391 first-generation divided family members who registered for the reunion program with the South Korean Red Cross have passed away while waiting to be reunited with their relatives in the North.
 
Only 20,604 South Koreans, about 15 percent, have met their North Korean relatives through the 21 reunions held to date.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]
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