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Parties divided over Moon's countermeasures against N.Korean ICBM test

2017/07/30 15:50

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SEOUL, July 30 (Yonhap) -- On the liberal Moon Jae-in government's countermeasures against the latest North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile test, the ruling party voiced its consent, but opposition parties called for tougher ones, criticizing the president's Berlin peace initiative that puts more weight on dialogue with the North than pressure on it.

In an emergency National Security Council meeting convened right after the North's new ICBM test Friday night, Moon proposed a set of countermeasures, including the temporary deployment of four additional THAAD interceptor launchers, and ordered consultation with the United States on ways to bolster strategic deterrence against the recalcitrant North. The presidential office said later that the provisional deployment does not mean the retraction of a declared environmental impact assessment on the deployment site.

President Moon Jae-in speaks during a National Security Council session at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on July 29, 2017, in this photo provided by his office. (Yonhap) President Moon Jae-in speaks during a National Security Council session at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on July 29, 2017, in this photo provided by his office. (Yonhap)

At present, two THAAD launchers are in operation at a former golf course in Seongju, some 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, with four others stored at a nearby U.S. military base due to local residents' opposition.

"We understand the (provisional deployment) this time as the security on the Korean Peninsula, as well as in Northeast Asia, has become very serious due to the North's ballistic missile launch," said Rep. Woo Won-shik, the floor leader of the ruling Democratic Party.

The full-dressed deployment of the THAAD launchers, however, should be prudently examined after the environmental assessment is done as planned, Woo said in a complete agreement with the stance of the presidential office.

Opposition parties reprimanded Moon's dialogue-oriented North Korea policy in unison.

Not only the provisional THAAD deployment, but the stationing of two or three additional U.S. THAAD batteries are badly needed," said Rep. Kim Young-woo, the conservative opposition Bareun Party and chairman of the National Assembly's national defense committee, while asserting, "The North's missile test is a harsh reply to Moon's Berlin peace initiative and has crossed a red line."

   The environment impact evaluation in Seongju should be skipped, he said.

"Security strategies should be changed if security situations change," Kim said, saying the North answered Moon's Berlin initiative with missile tests.

During his visit to Berlin to attend the Group of 20 summit early this month, Moon announced the initiative under which Seoul pursues Pyongyang's denuclearization with a security guarantee, and economic and diplomatic incentives, while seeking a peace treaty and dismissing the prospect of forced unification. In follow-up steps, Seoul proposed inter-Korean military and Red Cross talks but to no avail.

The ultra conservative Liberty Korea Party also condemned Moon's countermeasure, saying, "They fall far short of alleviating the people's anxiety.

"The government should take responsibility for disrupting the THAAD deployment within the year by announcing an environmental assessment one day before the North's missile provocation," Rep. Jeong Yong-ki, the party's senior spokesman, said.

The government should further cement the country's alliance with the U.S. and strongly push for sanctions against the North based on it, he said.

"I advise Moon to change his strategy to approach North Korea," said Rep. Park Joo-sun, the interim leader of the centrist opposition People's Party.

The government and ruling party's countermeasures are inviting a sense of crisis that the country can simultaneously lose both the security and the peace, Park said.