|President Park Geun-hye speaks to the nation from Cheong Wa Dae, Wednesday, about how to respond to North Korea's fourth nuclear test. She vowed to help the U.N. Security Council slap "the most powerful sanctions" on Pyongyang.|
/ Korea Times photo by Hong In-ki
President vows "most powerful" sanctions against NorthBy Kang Seung-woo
President Park Geun-hye said Wednesday that the government will review plans by the U.S. Forces Korea to deploy an advanced missile defense system here, depending on how North Korea's nuclear weapons and missiles threaten security and national interests.Her remarks came one week after the North allegedly conducted a hydrogen bomb test, which ignited calls for Seoul and Washington to deploy the terminal high-altitude area defense (THAAD) system on Korean soil."Taking the North's nuclear and missile threats into consideration, I will review the issue of deploying THAAD here based on security and national interests. That is the bottom line," Park said in a nationally televised address from Cheong Wa Dae.It is no secret that the U.S. government wants to deploy THAAD here, with the Kim Jong-un regime modernizing its ballistic missile and nuclear programs. In 2014, the U.S. conducted a site inspection for the missile interceptor.However, the Park administration has been reluctant to openly approve of the THAAD deployment because China strongly opposes its presence, claiming that it could be a threat to its security. China is the South's biggest trading partner.The Chinese media kept a close watch on Park's THAAD comments.The daily Huanqiu Shibao, a foreign affairs tabloid controlled by the Chinese Communist Party's flagship paper the People's Daily, said in its editorial that a deployment of U.S. military weapons on the Korean Peninsula following the latest North Korean nuclear test was aimed at containing China as well as the North.It added that should the U.S. deploy THAAD in the South, it will threaten China.The China Internet Information Center, a web portal authorized by the Chinese government, also said that the South Korean government has rejected previous U.S. calls for THAAD deployment due to China's opposition; but noted the situation was changing after the nuclear test.Park's THAAD comments are also seen as a measure to get China to swiftly rein in the North's nuclear ambitions, with Beijing government keeping mum on possible sanctions over the fourth nuclear test, as such action could lead to the North's collapse and instability on its border.Amid intensifying inter-Korean tensions, the Seoul government has limited the entry of its people to the Gaeseong Industrial Complex, a joint project in the North, twice, raising speculation that the South may close the joint factory park, but Park said that its future depends on the North's actions."At this point, I am not considering taking such an extreme measure. However, whether or not to shut it down is fully up to the North," she said.A total of 124 South Korean firms are running factories with about 54,000 North Koreans working at the complex in the North Korean border city, which opened in 2004 as a symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation and has served as a valued source of hard currency for the impoverished North.Also, the President called on China to play a necessary role as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council in an international move to impose fresh sanctions on the North, saying that the best partners are those who can hold hands in difficult times."China has repeatedly stated that it will not tolerate the North's nuclear program, and is well aware that if such a strong statement is not followed by necessary measures, the North would carry out further nuclear tests, preventing peace and stability on the Korea Peninsula," Park said."We have closely discussed the North Korean nuclear issue, so I believe that the Chinese government will not allow the situation on the Korean Peninsula to deteriorate further."Seoul-Beijing ties are at their best-ever, evidenced by six summits between Park and Chinese President Xi Jinping, thanks to Park's efforts to improve bilateral relations given that China is the only country that can exert influence on the North.However, the two sides seem to remain apart over countermeasures against the North Korean nuclear test.Following the claimed hydrogen bomb test, the U.N. is working to draft a new resolution for sanctions against the North, and Park vowed to make all diplomatic efforts to ensure that the reclusive state will be slapped with the most powerful sanctions yet."The government has coordinated with its allies, including the United States, on a draft resolution," she said.The North's latest nuclear test is rekindling debate on whether the South should possess its own nuclear arsenal, but Park opposed the idea, adding that it would break the nation's commitment to the international community."I don't think we need nuclear weapons in South Korea," Park said.
박근혜 대통령은 13일 미국의 고고도미사일 방어체계인 사드의 한반도 배치문제와 관련, '주한 미군의 사드 배치 문제는 북한의 핵, 미사일 위협 등을 감안해가면서 우리의 안보와 국익에 따라서 검토해나갈 것이다. 오로지 기준은 그것'이라고 밝혔다.
박 대통령은 이날 청와대 춘추관에서 '대국민담화 및 기자회견'을 갖고 이같이 말했다.
박 대통령은 국내에서 제기되는 전술핵 보유 주장과 관련, '우리도 전술핵을 가져야하지 않겠냐는 목소리들이 나오고 있다. 그런데 저는 국제사회에서 '핵이 없는 세계는 한반도에서부터 시작돼야 한다'고 누차 강조를 해왔고 또 한반도에 핵이 있어서는 안된다고 생각한다'고 말했다.
박 대통령은 '지금 전술핵을 우리도 가져야 하지 않냐는 주장을 충분 이해한다. 오죽하면 그런 것을 주장하겠는가'라며 '그러나 그동안 우리가 쭉 국제사회와 약속한 바가 있기 때문에 이것은 국제사회와의 약속 깨는 것이 될 것'이라고 말했다.
박 대통령은 '우리는 한미방호조약에 따라 미국 핵우산을 제공받고 있고 또 2013년 10월부터는 한미맞춤형 억제전략을 추진하고 있다'며 '이것에 따라 한미가 여기에 공동대응하고 있기 때문에 한반도의 이쪽에 꼭 핵이 있어야 한다고 생각하지는 않는다'고 말했다.
박 대통령은 우리 안보당국이 북한의 4차 핵실험을 사전에 인지하지 못한 것과 관련, '구체적인 시기 예측을 이번에 좀 못했는데, 지난 3차 핵실험과 달리 (북한이) 어떤 특이한 동향을 나타내지않고 핵실험을 해 임박한 징후를 우리가 포착하지 못했다'고 말했다.
박 대통령은 '앞으로 북한이 또 어떻게 할지 모르니까 이런 도발징후를 놓치지 않도록 우리의 대북정보수집능력을 강화해 이런걸 놓치지 않도록 해나갈 생각'이라고 말했다.
박 대통령은 미국의 북핵실험 사전 인지설과 관련한 일부 언론 보도에 대해선 '미국이 (사전에) 그걸 몰랐다는 것은 확실한 사실이라고 말씀드릴 수 있다'고 말했다. (연합뉴스)