President Lee Myung-Bak said on Saturday South Korea would not make any compromises in the face of North Korea’s nuclear threats and called for Pyongyang to return to six-party disarmament talks.
“I hereby make it clear again that there won’t be any compromise in issues threatening the lives of the people and national security,” Lee said at a speech marking Memorial Day to honour the Korean War dead.
North Korea was not only threatening the South but the world’s peace and stability by carrying out nuclear tests and launching missiles, he said.
“Even at this very moment, the North is ratcheting up the level of threats as we are also stepping up our defence posture, resulting in a trigger-wire confrontation,” Lee said.
The UN Security Council is considering new sanctions against North Korea after Pyongyang carried out its second nuclear test last month.
The North also fired a rocket in April, ostensibly to put a satellite into orbit, but other countries saw it as a disguised long-range missile test.
After the UN Security Council censured its April 5 rocket launch, the North announced it was quitting the six-party talks and restarting a programme to make weapons-grade plutonium.
It also has defied international criticism of its second nuclear test by firing a volley of short-range missiles and threatening to attack the capitalist South.
The North is now said to be preparing to test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile as well as several medium-range missiles.
“North Korea must keep its promise to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula and come back to the six-party and inter-Korean talks,” Lee said.
The six-party talks, which include the two Koreas, host China, Japan, the US and Russia, are aimed at scrapping North Korea’s nuclear programme in exchange for economic and diplomatic gains.
The negotiations deadlocked late last year over a dispute with North Korea over how to verify its disarmament.