South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said on Wednesday that his government has no plans to advance its own nuclear deterrence given North Korea’s growing nuclear weapons capabilities, while North Korea launched the latest update of an expanded arsenal. Two suspected cruise missiles were fired towards the sea in the demonstration. ,

Yun’s call for Pyongyang to return to diplomacy with the aim of exchanging nuclear disarmament moves for economic gains The South’s military learned that the North had fired missiles toward the sea from the western coastal city of Oncheon. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff did not immediately release further details, including the distance the weapons traveled.

Yoon’s office said his national security director, Kim Sung-han, discussed the launch with other officials, before Yoon addressed reporters at a news conference and reviewed the South’s military preparedness. Tensions could escalate as the United States and South Korea begin their biggest joint training in years next week to counter the threat from North Korea. The North describes such exercises as attack rehearsals and often responds to them with missile tests or other provocations.

Yoon told reporters that South Korea does not desire political change brought about by force in North Korea and called for diplomacy aimed at building lasting peace between rivals amid tensions over North Korea’s rapid weapons program. .

Yoon’s remarks came days after he proposed an “audacious” economic aid package to North Korea if it abandons its nuclear weapons program, while avoiding harsh criticism from the North that it has “overpowered” on a COVID-19 outbreak. deadly” retaliation, which places the blame on the South. ,

Yun’s proposal for large-scale aid in food and healthcare and modernization of power and port infrastructure was similar to previous South Korean proposals, which were rejected by North Korea, which focused on the development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. which is seen by leader Kim Jong Un as his strongest. Survival guaranteed.

Nevertheless, Yoon expressed hope for “meaningful talks” with North Korea on his plan and insisted that Seoul be phased out if the North is committed to a genuine “roadmap” toward giving up its weapons altogether. At each stage of the denuclearization process the corresponding economic reward is set to be provided. Program.

“We’re not telling them to ‘completely denuclearize first and then we’ll deliver,'” Yoon said. “What we are saying is that we will provide what we show only a determination [towards atomization] in correspondence to their steps.”

Inter-Korean relations have deteriorated amid a standoff in major nuclear talks between North Korea and the US, which were derailed in early 2019 by disagreements over the easing of US-led sanctions on the North in exchange for disarmament steps.

North Korea ramped up its missile test in 2022 at a record pace, having launched more than 30 ballistic warheads so far, including its first intercontinental ballistic missile in nearly five years.

Experts say the high test activity underscores North Korea’s twin intentions to step up its arsenal and force the United States to accept the North’s idea of ​​a nuclear power, so that it can move from a position of strength. negotiate economic and security concessions. Kim may move soon as there are signs the North is preparing to conduct its first nuclear test since September 2017, when it claimed to have developed a thermonuclear weapon to fit on its ICBM.

While Kim’s ICBMs receive international attention, North Korea is also expanding its range of nuclear-capable, short-range missiles that can target South Korea. Kim has stymied his weapons development with threats to actively use his nuclear weapons in conflicts against the South or the US, which experts say communicate a growing nuclear doctrine that could be dangerous for his neighbors. can increase anxiety.

Yoon has vowed to strengthen the South’s defense through his alliance with the United States by resuming massive military training that was canceled or downsized during the Trump years and boosting the South’s missile defenses. was given. The Biden administration has also reaffirmed US commitments to defend South Korea and Japan, including “extended deterrence”, assuring them to defend their allies with their full military capabilities, including nuclear.

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