Yoon denounces N. Korea's nuclear development as threat to nonproliferation regime

Date: 2024-06-11T13:39:11+09:00

Location: en.yna.co.kr

By Kim Eun-jung

ASHGABAT, June 11 (Yonhap) -- President Yoon Suk Yeol condemned North Korea's nuclear development for threatening the international nonproliferation regime, as he was set to embark on a state visit Tuesday to Kazakhstan, a country that voluntarily gave up its nuclear arsenal.

In a written interview published in the Egemen Qazaqstan and Kazakhstanskaya Pravda newspapers, Yoon touted Kazakhstan as "a global model for denuclearization" for closing the former Soviet Union's nuclear testing site in its territory and dismantling the world's fourth-largest nuclear arsenal after gaining independence in 1991.

"North Korea's nuclear development is a dangerous and irresponsible act that shakes the foundation of the international nonproliferation regime, which countries like South Korea and Kazakhstan have steadfastly defended and developed over the years," Yoon said.

Yoon said Pyongyang has continued to develop nuclear weapons despite Seoul's active participation in the international community's efforts for denuclearization and nonproliferation.

Pyongyang has staged six nuclear tests, with its last test in 2017. Nuclear negotiations between the United States and the North have remained stalled since the 2019 Hanoi summit between the two nations ended without a deal.

"Despite repeated decisions by the U.N. Security Council and the unified voice of the international community demanding North Korea abandon its nuclear development, North Korea continues to develop nuclear weapons and their delivery systems, seriously threatening international peace and security," Yoon said.

Regarding his summit with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev slated for Wednesday, Yoon said the talks will focus on ways to bolster cooperation in the economy, technology, environment, agriculture and other areas.

"The two countries will deepen cooperation in core areas, such as energy, infrastructure and manufacturing," Yoon said. "This meeting is also to discuss ways to expand mutually beneficial cooperation in various future-oriented fields, including key minerals, science and technology, environment, agriculture and climate change response."

Yoon also expressed hope to finalize Seoul's review on designating new countries for the employment permit system to promote exchanges of labor between the two nations.

"South Korea is actively opening its doors from traditional manufacturing to advanced sectors," he said. "In light of the upcoming summit, I hope that the ongoing discussions on designating new countries for the employment permit system will be smoothly concluded."

To promote people-to-people exchanges and tourism, the countries will resume direct flights between Incheon and Astana, Kazakhstan's capital city, for the first time in four years, which were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he added.

Yoon is set to wrap up his two-day state visit to Turkmenistan and head to Kazakhstan, the second leg of his Central Asian trip, which also includes Uzbekistan.