South Korea's top diplomat on Friday warned that any further provocation by North Korea will result in the country being completely cut off from the rest of the international community.
In an interview with Yonhap News Agency on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in Germany, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said discussions with members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) showed a high degree of solidarity in censuring Pyongyang for its recent behavior.
The belligerent regime fired off a multi-stage missile, which may have the capability to target parts of the United States on Sunday. This move took place only a month after it detonated its fourth nuclear device on Jan. 6, with both actions being seen as a slap in the face on past warnings issued against North Korea by the international community as a whole.
The policymaker claimed that many North Korean neighbors, whom Pyongyang is relying on as a shield, have expressed concerns that the North is becoming more and more cut off. He added that if the country again disregards the resolution being prepared by the UNSC, which is expected to include warnings against the hiking up of tensions, the country will find itself completely isolated and friendless.
The official did not give details on neighboring countries worried about the North, but this may be a nod to China and Russia, who have been less willing in the past to slap painful sanctions on the isolationist country.
"In the United Nations 70-year history, only North Korea has the distinction of having disregarded a countless number of UNSC resolutions, tested four nuclear devices and fired off six long range missiles," Yun said.
He pointed out that while there are some differences amoung countries on how far the international community should go in sanctioning the North at this juncture, all are in general agreement that Pyongyang must pay for its reckless actions.
He then said that if the upcoming U.N. resolution denouncing North Korea's latest provocations is only on par with what has been passed, this will only lead to more nuclear and missile tests.
"There must be change this time around to get the message across," he argued.
The world body has pledged to move swiftly to censure the North and there is full understanding among key member states that a resolution condemning its latest actions must be passed quickly, local diplomatic sources said.
On the bill passed by the U.S. Congress to slap tough sanctions on North Korea, Yun pointed out that the legislation is unique because it specifically targets North Korea, and the speed with which is was approved by lawmakers.
He expected the secondary boycott clause in the new bill will have considerable impact down the line.
"This move by the United States is a sign of the country's resolve to tackle this issue," the minister said.
The policymaker then said Seoul has been engaged in close contact with Beijing on the North Korean issue.
Yun argued that improvements made by North Korea in its nuclear and missile technologies is directly linked to the survival of South Korea, so it is a crucial security matter.
"Any actions we take are not meant to impact other countries, but are in response to threats on its (South Korea's) survival," he said, making clear that this has always been Seoul's stance.
The comments come as China expressed reservations about moves by South Korea and the United States to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to South Korea. The THAAD system can offer a degree of protection against a missile threat from the North.
On ways to get China and Russia on board talks to penalize the North, the foreign minister stressed that Pyongyang's actions so far have utterly ignored calls issued by these two key countries. Both have taken part in U.N. resolutions calling on the North to desist from actions that can spike tensions.
"China and Russia are frustrated and angry so the aim is to engage in talks with these countries," he said.
The minister said that Seoul's move to halt the Kaesong Industrial Complex in the North earlier in the week, showed the country's firm stance and highlighted how it views the current situation to countries like China and Russia. The move could end the last remaining economic link between the two Koreas and mean considerable losses to the 124 companies that have set up shop at the complex.
In regards to the future course of action the government can take, Yun said the closure of Kaesong is the first step with others expected to follow once the U.N. resolution is passed and what response comes out of North Korea.
Source: Yonhap news