South Korea says North Korea must take seriously a recent threat by US President Donald Trump that the US would “totally destroy” the country if it is forced to.
In speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, Trump threatened that if the US “is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”
The office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in a statement on Wednesday that the warning “reaffirmed that North Korea should be made to realize that denuclearization is the only way to the future through utmost sanctions and pressure.”
A spokesman for Moon, Park Soo-hyun, said Trump’s speech “clearly showed how seriously the United States government views North Korea’s weapons program as the president spent an unusual amount of time discussing the issue.”
South Korea fires a missile into the East Sea during a drill in response to a North Korean missile test, September 15, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Moon, who came to power on a platform of engagement with Pyongyang, changed his mind after the North launched its sixth and largest nuclear test on September 3, saying time was not right for dialog.
The South Korean president is due to meet Trump in New York later on Wednesday.
Japan welcomes Trump’s ‘all options’ stance
Another US ally, Japan, has also welcomed Trump’s speech and praised his stance on North Korea.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Wednesday that Tokyo appreciated “President Trump’s stance of announcing all options are on the table.”
“We would like to continue our cooperation in security matters between Japan and the US as well as among Japan, the US, and South Korea,” he added.
On Tuesday, Japan deployed an additional missile defense system on its northern island of Hokkaido, days after the North launched a missile over the island country. Pyongyang has threatened to “sink” Japan and said it would not halt its nuclear and missile tests until achieving military “equilibrium” with the United States.
China calls for peaceful resolution
China, North Korea’s only regional ally, has, meanwhile, called for a peaceful resolution of the growing tensions.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday that UN resolutions were clear that the Korean Peninsula issue should be resolved through peaceful and diplomatic means.
Wang told his French counterpart on the sidelines of a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly that it is incorrect to say Beijing has not been doing enough to stop the North Korean nuclear weapons programs.
Trump has formerly accused China of doing “nothing” about Pyongyang.