South Korea's New President: The Possibility of a Conflict with North Korea Is High

May 17, 2017 Topic: Security Region: Asia Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: South KoreaNorth KoreaMilitaryNuclear WeaponsTechnologyWorld

South Korea's New President: The Possibility of a Conflict with North Korea Is High

Sobering words. 

South Korea’s newly-elected president said Wednesday that the possibility of a conflict with North Korea is high.

“The reality is that there is a high possibility of a military conflict at the NLL (Northern Limit Line) and military demarcation line,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in said, according to Reuters.

Moon’s comments are similar to those made by President Donald Trump in late April. “There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely,” Trump told Reuters, “We’d love to solve things diplomatically but it’s very difficult.”

While some observers suspected that Trump and Moon would have conflicting attitudes towards the North Korean threat, there has been a certain degree of overlap with regard to their ideas and approaches.

“I will quickly move to solve the crisis in national security. I am willing to go anywhere for the peace of the Korean Peninsula,” Moon said last week, “If needed, I will fly immediately to Washington. I will go to Beijing and I will go to Tokyo … If the conditions shape up, I will go to Pyongyang.”

“If it would be appropriate for me to meet with [Kim Jong Un], I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it,” Trump said early this month, adding that a meeting could only take place under “the right circumstances.”

The U.S. and South Korea agreed Tuesday on an approach to North Korea that involves “sanctions and dialogue.”

“First, the ultimate goal is to completely dismantle the North Korean nuclear weapons,” Yoon Young-chan, the spokesman for South Korean President Moon Jae-in, explained. “Second, to that end, both sides will employ all means, including sanctions and dialogue. Third, dialogue with North Korea is possible when the circumstances are right. Fourth, to achieve these goals, South Korea and the United States will pursue drastic and practical joint approaches.”

There may be some future tension over the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system being deployed on South Korean soil, but there is still no word at this time.

North Korea is rapidly advancing its ballistic missile program, with the South Korean defense minister asserting that the North is developing weaponry faster than expected.

North Korea launched its tenth missile this year Sunday. The weapon was a Hwasong-12 medium long-range surface-to-surface missile which some experts believe represents a serious step towards a reliable intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland.

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