South Korea, US, nuclear envoys vow to sever North Korea funds

The chief nuclear envoys from Seoul and Washington added that their efforts towards disarmament are not designed to wait on North Korea’s responses.

Choi Si-young

Choi Si-young

The Korea Herald



June 14, 2023

SEOUL – South Korea’s chief nuclear envoy, Kim Gunn, and his US counterpart, Sung Kim, reaffirmed their commitment to respond sternly to North Korea’s aggression, including blocking illicit funds from aiding North Korea’s weapons development programs.

“(We) have agreed to strengthen our efforts to more definitely cut off funds to North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs,” Kim Gunn said of his meeting with the US special representative in Washington.

The North is refusing to comply with international sanctions meant to curb its nuclear and weapons development programs, having conducted a string of weapons tests. Two weeks ago, Pyongyang launched what it claimed was a military reconnaissance satellite amid suspicion that it was testing a ballistic missile, as the same technology is required. UN sanctions ban the country from using such technology.

“We will be prepared to deal with the North,” South Korean envoy Kim said, referring to a second launch North Korea suggested could take place shortly after the failed launch. Pyongyang contends any launch of a satellite is part of its self-defense, saying a spy satellite, in particular, would allow it to closely monitor US military activities.

According to Sung Kim, a second launch will prompt not only sanctions but military responses from South Korea, Washington and Japan, a three-way coalition focused on North Korea’s denuclearization.

“It’s important to make North Korea pay for any attempts to escalate tension,” Kim said, stressing the coalition “has always been open to dialogue.” Pyongyang refuses to return to talks, citing sanctions relief as a precondition Washington should meet. The US and the North last came to the negotiating table in October 2019, a meeting that fell short of reaching any agreement.

The chief nuclear envoys from Seoul and Washington added that their efforts towards disarmament are not designed to wait on North Korea’s responses.

“What we’re trying here is to lead the regime to disarm itself,” South Korean envoy Kim said, calling the joint policy on North Korea a comprehensive blueprint built on both deterrence and diplomacy. South Korea and the US have resumed their annual military drills, a move which North Korea has dubbed a “rehearsal for invasion.” The two allies label the drills a “test for readiness.”

South Korea and the US signed a pact in April giving South Korea a bigger say in any potential US nuclear response to North Korea’s nuclear attacks. Following the agreement, the allies are expected to double down on deterring the isolated country from aggression for some time.

The two envoys added they will step up the monitoring of rights abuses in North Korea, a task they said will gain more spotlight on the international stage. South Korea will start its two-year term on the UN Security Council in January next year, marking a return to the UN’s most powerful body after a 11-year hiatus.

scroll to top