DUP head urges NK against nuke test
Park Jie-won, the interim leader of the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP), on Monday warned North Korea against a third nuclear test, stressing it was not in Pyongyang’s interest.
“Once again, I warn North Korea to immediately halt (preparations for) a third nuclear test. Far from being beneficial, it will only do harm,” Park said during a meeting of the DUP’s emergency council.
Park was elected last week as floor leader of the liberal party and is serving as its leader until a new chief is elected at a national convention next month.
The DUP has been highly critical of the conservative Lee Myung-bak administration’s policy on the North, saying his hard line approach contributed to a spike in tensions during his term.
Recent satellite imagery shows apparent preparations for a fresh nuclear test at the North’s Punggye-ri test site in the country’s northeast.
Seoul and Pyongyang have engaged in a rhetorical tit-for-tat since the launch, with Pyongyang upset over what it called defamatory remarks during celebrations for the 100th birth anniversary of its founder and Lee saying the North is acting like a “naughty child.”
Park added Seoul and Washington should implement tension reduction measures such as provision of nutritional assistance in return for denuclearization steps.
The failed April 13 rocket launch earned Pyongyang expanded international sanctions and halted a deal with the United States under which it stood to gain 240,000 tons of nutritional aid in exchange for suspending its uranium enrichment and others steps. Last week, the five permanent U.N. Security Council members — the United States, Britain, China, Russia and France — urged the regime to stand down from its provocations.
Pyongyang responded to the call by saying it would “doggedly safeguard” its right to operate what it claims are a space program and peaceful nuclear program, but what are seen as efforts to develop missiles and nuclear warheads.
Analysts say Pyongyang may be motivated to carry out the test to save face for the rocket failure and bolster the power of fledgling leader Kim Jong-un.
Still some hold out hope that China may convince the regime against the move amid reports that Kim recently expressed his desire to visit Beijing.
According to Japan’s Nihon Keizai newspaper, the message was conveyed to Chinese President Hu Jintao by Kim Yong-il, a North Korean Worker’s Party official dealing with international relations during a trip to Beijing in April.
Hu welcomed the visit but wanted to express his wish that that Pyongyang refrain from a third nuclear test, the report said.
Analysts say such a visit would not only give Kim some needed international relations experience but that Pyongyang could also stand to benefit in the form of massive assistance.
North Korea carried out nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, both of which followed long-range rocket launches.