South Korea plans to increase pressure on North Korea in retaliation for its latest rocket launch. While Seoul says dialogue remains an option, the UN Security Council is to vote on unprecedented bans against Pyongyang.
In the speech to mark the anniversary of the 1919 independence movement against Japanese rule over the Korean peninsula, South Korean President Park Geun-hye vowed to pressure North Korea into accepting denuclearization as its only viable option for survival.
"If we leave them alone, they will continue," said the president. "North Korea must clearly understand ... that they can no longer maintain their regime through nuclear weapons."
Her comments came ahead of UN Security Council vote on Wednesday on a new US-drafted resolution that would impose the toughest sanctions yet on North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.
According to the draft text, it would require countries to take the unprecedented step of inspecting all cargo to and from North Korea, impose new trade restrictions and bar North Korean vessels suspected of carrying illegal goods from ports.
Park said the draft showed the collective will of the international community to ensure that Pyongyang "pay the price" for its refusal to halt its nuclear weapons program. She also noted that the text has secured the approval of North Korea's main ally, China.
"My government will leave the door for dialogue open," said Park, vowing to continue putting pressure on North Korea until it showed signs of change.
China wants North Korea to halt its nuclear weapons program and return to six-party international talks, but fears that too much pressure could trigger the collapse of leader Kim Jong-Un's regime, creating chaos on its border.
av/kms (dpa, AFP, Reuters)