There will be no war on the Korean peninsula, South Korean President Moon Jae-In stated Thursday, adding that Seoul effectively had a veto over US military action in response to the North’s nuclear and missile programs.
Tensions have soared on the peninsula in recent months, with Pyongyang carrying out its first successful tests of an intercontinental ballistic missile [ICBM], bringing much of the US within range.
Last week it threatened to send a salvo of rockets towards the US territory of Guam – although it appears to have backed off for now – while US President Donald Trump promised “fire and fury” and said that Washington’s weapons were “locked and loaded.”
The intense rhetoric on both sides raised fears of a miscalculation leading to catastrophic consequences – Pyongyang has vast artillery forces deployed within range of Seoul, where millions of people live.
But Moon stressed:
“I will prevent war at all cost.”
“I want all South Koreans to believe with confidence that there will be no war,” he told a press conference marking his first 100 days in office.
The US has been the South’s security guarantor since the end of the Korean War in 1953, which left the peninsula divided and technically still in a state of conflict with no peace treaty signed.
Washington has 28,500 troops stationed in the country to protect it from the North.
Moon, however, said Seoul effectively had a veto on military action by the US.
Washington and Trump had agreed that “no matter what option they take about North Korea, all decisions will be made after consulting with and getting agreement with the Republic of Korea.”
Trump’s rhetoric raised alarm among observers but Moon, who visited Washington at the end of June, declined to criticize his choice of words.
The US leader was “trying to pressure North Korea by showing a firm resolution,” he said.