In order for inter-Korean dialogue to resume, North Korea should begin by freezing its nuclear program, President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday, suggesting an “action for action” approach to North Korea.
Speaking aboard South Korea’s Air Force One headed for Washington, Moon said that although he seeks inter-Korean dialogue, Pyongyang must take actions to facilitate the outcome.
President Moon Jae-in addresses the media aboard the flight to Washington DC on Wednesday. Yonhap
“I think that Pyongyang should at the very least freeze its nuclear program for dialogue,” Moon said, adding that the most likely route to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula would involve that stage.
“If the freeze of Pyongyang’s nuclear program is the way to dialogue, then the exit of that dialogue is the abolishment.”
He added that North Korea should be subjected to measures corresponding to its actions -- or an “action for action” plan -- but warned that harsher punitive measures would come if Pyongyang engages Seoul only to break any promises made.
“If the North breaks promises (made in such a scenario) and resumes its nuclear program, then the North is providing the justification for any measures the international society may take.”
The president played down Moon Chung-in’s comments that South Korea-US military drills should be scaled back if Pyongyang freezes its nuclear program, reiterating that the professor had spoken as an academic, not as his special adviser. Moon Chung-in is a Yonsei University professor emeritus and a special adviser to the president on security and foreign affairs.
The president also stressed once again that neither Seoul nor Washington has any intention of linking joint military drills with the efforts to end Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.
The president did, however, state that North Korea should be rewarded for its positive actions, while emphasizing that any development must be fully verified to avoid rewards being given for “bad actions.”
“It must be considered what (reward) can be given (if Pyongyang freezes its nuclear program),” Moon said, reiterating again that any such developments must be fully verified.
“For full abolishment of the nuclear program, what can South Korea and the US provide in return? This is an issue that must be considered, and that South Korea and the US must work closely on.”
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com)
Korea Herald correspondent