Kim's Nuclear Pursuit to Hasten Collapse of Regime, Park Warns

Updated on
  • Without international action, Kim can develop nuclear missiles
  • Park says world needs to stop North Korea's `reckless run'

North Korea will gain the capability to deploy nuclear missiles if the world doesn’t force Kim Jong Un to realize his atomic ambitions will lead to the eventual collapse of his regime, South Korean President Park Geun Hye told parliament Tuesday.

President of South Korea Park Geun-hye

President of South Korea Park Geun-hye.

Photographer: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

“From now, the government will take powerful and practical measures to make North Korea’s regime come to the painful realization that nuclear development will not help it survive but only quicken its regime collapse,” Park said in a televised speech. “If time flows like this without a change, Kim Jong Un’s regime, on a reckless run without brakes, will deploy nuclear missiles, and we will suffer fear and fright.”

Park’s warning follows North Korea’s fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 and a long-range rocket launch earlier this month -- moves seen as further steps in Kim’s drive to develop a long-range missile that can carry a nuclear warhead as far as the U.S. The United Nations Security Council is considering a toughening of sanctions, and South Korea last week closed a jointly run industrial park in the North that served as a source of hard currency for the isolated nation.

QuickTake North Korea’s Nukes

North Korea expelled all South Koreans from the Gaeseong complex it had operated with South Korea for more than a decade. Park said Tuesday that the Pyongyang regime had diverted earnings from the industrial park to Workers’ Party officials handling the development of weapons of mass destruction. She also pledged to bolster cooperation with the U.S. and Japan to rein in Kim’s ambitions.

“His recent activities vis-a-vis the launch demonstrate his potential, and demonstrate capability,” General Lori Robinson, U.S. Pacific Air Forces chief, said. “It’s my role to continue to be postured to defend the homeland, Guam and work with our partners.”

The U.S. flew a B-52 bomber in South Korea last month in a show of force after North Korea’s nuclear test. The Obama administration is now planning talks with South Korea over deploying a ballistic missile defense system on the peninsula following North Korea’s rocket launch, which the U.S views as a test of missile technology. China has opposed the deployment of the missile-defense system called Thaad, saying it covers more Chinese territory than the Koreas combined.

(Updates with comment from U.S. military official in fifth paragraph.)
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