The prime target of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is South Korea and the reclusive communist state is still set on taking over its affluent neighbour by force, the South’s Foreign Minister Yu Mung-hwan said today.
South Korea has been trying to get the North back to six-way talks on ending its nuclear ambitions in return for economic aid and diplomatic rewards, but Pyongyang has refused to return to the table and instead sought direct negotiations with Washington, Reuters reports.
The North has made a series of conciliatory gestures towards the South and the United States recently, while issuing more nuclear threats including a pledge to produce highly enriched uranium, which would give it a new way to make nuclear arms.
“North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons, its nuclear armament, is targeted at the South where freedom and democracy is upheld, economic growth is pursued and where the people are allowed to live in comfort,” Yu told a forum of business leaders.
“What the North is pursuing, before and after the Korean War and to this day, is communist unification. And the development of nuclear weapons is a tool for that.”
The comments were unusually bold in charging the North with aggressive intentions after the rivals pledged at a summit in 2000 to end hostility and improve ties, even as they remain technically at war since their 1950-53 conflict.
North Korea has conducted a series of long-range rocket tests in defiance of international warnings and set off a nuclear device in May, triggering UN Security Council sanctions that analysts have said are beginning to dry up its already meagre coffers.
The United States has said it is prepared to hold direct talks to try to bring North Korea back to the six-way negotiations, which also involve Japan, Russia and China.
Yu said yesterday Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao would likely visit the North early next month as part of efforts to end Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.
Pic: Pac-3 missile