SEOUL, March 7 (UPI) — South Korea will continue imposing sanctions on North Korea, despite warmer relations between the two states which agreed to hold an inter-Korean summit for the first time in more than a decade.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday in a meeting with major political leaders that Seoul won’t ease sanctions on North Korea for the sake of holding an inter-Korean summit.
“Seoul is not in a position to unilaterally repeal independent sanctions,” he said, noting that the current sanctions on the North have been imposed by the U.N. Security Council and the United States. “The inter-Korean summit will be held within the framework of international sanctions and pressure.”
The president also said that issues surrounding North Korea’s nuclear and missile program do not concern just the two Koreas but also the United States and the international community.
“The capacity of inter-Korean summit can broaden only if there are developments in regards to U.S.-North Korea talks,” he said.
He addressed concerns that the North may continue developing its nuclear and missile technology, saying that denuclearization is the ultimate goal.
“Our goal is denuclearization. We cannot settle for nonproliferation or a nuclear freeze,” Moon said, according to Yonhap.
His remarks, however, failed to reassure opposition party leaders.
In a briefing following the meeting, Liberty Korea Party Chairman Hong Jun-pyo expressed doubt that cross-border talks would lead to the North dismantling its nukes.
“[Former] President Roh Moo-hyun once walked across the border. Even then, North Korea was faking a peace offensive and developing nukes,” Hong said. “I believe it is the same now.”
He also voiced concern that North Korea leader Kim Jong Un “holds the steering wheel of inter-Korean relations.”
Hong reportedly told Moon there could be a huge national catastrophe if the inter-Korean summit turns out to have been the North’s scheme to buy time.
“Do you have any measures for that situation?” he asked the president, who turned the question around on Hong.
“How could the president ask me that kind of question when he’s the one who handles all information on security, military situations and international affairs?” Hong retorted.
Minor conservative Bareunmirae Party leader Yoo Seung-min also cautioned that Pyongyang may be attempting to buy time.
He said the North’s intentions must be confirmed through “mutual agreements made in the negotiation process and their fulfilment.”
Yoo also maintained his party’s stance that strong sanctions and pressure are the only peaceful solution to resolving North Korea’s nuclear crisis, Hankyoreh reported.