South Korean President Moon Jae-in reiterated Thursday that there would never be another war in the Korean Peninsula and that Washington won’t take any actions against Pyongyang without a full prior consent from Seoul.
“We have built this country from the ruins of the (1950-1953) Korean War. We cannot lose everything through a war again,” Moon said in a televised press conference marking his first 100 days in office.
“President Donald Trump has promised that the U.S. would fully discuss and seek approval for every option it takes against North Korea,” he said. If North Korea goes as far as attacking the U.S., Washington will take “appropriate actions,” but if that involves military moves and the Korean Peninsula, the final decision should be up to Seoul, Moon said.
“Even if the U.S. military action takes place outside the peninsula, I am confident that the U.S. will consult with South Korea in advance,” he said, repeating his warning during the Aug. 15 Liberation Day address that no countries should take military action on North Korea without South Korea’s approval.
Moon said the so-called red line he believes on North Korean weapons program would be when the reclusive state masters intercontinental ballistic missile technology and miniaturizes nuclear warhead.
“North Korea is nearing the red line. It is therefore important to stop North Korea at this stage.” If North Korea stops its provocation and shows willingness to talk, Seoul could send a presidential envoy to Pyongyang, he said.
The president who has enjoyed an unprecedented approval rating of over 80 percent throughout his first 100 days in office said Seoul will enter negotiation with Washington over the five-year bilateral free trade agreement “with confidence.” The U.S. itself has data showing the benefits of the bilateral FTA and the country profits in service trade with South Korea. “We will back our argument with data and enter talks with confidence,” he said.
Trump calling the bilateral FTA with South Korea “a horrible deal” has ordered his trade representative to renegotiate some of the terms in the trade pact.
Moon admitted that there are concerns about his generous policies to improve social security and welfare programs, but added that tax hikes cannot be the best solution. The government will rationalize tax expenditures and system first and gauge public opinion before deciding whether it needs an additional tax increase.
He also brushed aside concerns about his nuclear phase-out policy. “Phasing out of nuclear power would take more than 60 years. We will be reducing reactors one by one and build renewable energy sources at the same time. Even by 2030, reactors will be responsible for 20 percent of the country’s power supply. The process will be incremental,” he said.
By Kang Gye-man
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