Will push to denuclearise Pyongyang in 2017: Seoul

Seoul, Jan 4 (IANS) South Korea will strengthen efforts and policies in 2017 aimed at pushing North Korea to abandon its nuclear and missile programs, an official statement said on Wednesday.

The measures would include implementing more unilateral sanctions and increasing international pressure, Efe news reported.

Ministries on Wednesday presented South Korea’s acting President and Prime Minister, Hwang Kyo-ahn, with their policy directions for 2017, which agree on boosting efforts to put an end to North Korean arms development.

“This year, North Korea insist to be recognised as a nuclear state and continue to bypass our inter-Korean policy and international sanctions regime,” the Unification Ministry said in a statement, adding that it would implement new unilateral sanctions, according to Yonhap news agency.

The Foreign Ministry also said it wanted to strengthen its bilateral ties with countries such as the US, China and Japan, and called for reinforcing efforts to “choke off the money flow into the North, isolate it diplomatically and coordinate with major countries for unilateral sanctions.”

The Ministry of Defence, meanwhile, announced that it would create in 2017 — two years ahead of schedule — a special brigade tasked with incapacitating the North Korean regime’s command structure to counter developing military threats.

Seoul believes that Pyongyang has around 40 kg of plutonium, with which it could produce four to eight nuclear weapons.

The Ministry of Defence would also advance the deployment of missile-detection armaments — originally planned for mid-2020 — and move forward with installations of the US THAAD anti-missile system, based in South Korea, according to Yonhap.

The Foreign Ministry said it believed Pyongyang could carry out a “strategic or tactical provocation” in the coming months after the New Year speech of leader Kim Jong-un, in which he said North Korean intercontinental experimental missiles were in the “final phase” of development.

North Korea has already launched six intercontinental ballistic missiles on six occasions, claiming that the launches were aimed at orbiting observation satellites.

North Korea conducted two nuclear tests in 2016 – following the single blasts in 2006, 2009 and 2013 – and launched about 20 ballistic missiles, including half-range Musudan projectiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.–IANS