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N. Korea’s missiles, nuclear arms put itself greater danger: Lee

April 16, 2012 - 14:36 By Korea Herald
U.S., China agree on draft presidential statement condemning rocket launch: report

President Lee Myung-bak urged North Korea to drop its pursuit of missiles and nuclear weapons, and open up to the outside world, saying Monday that ending its bad behavior would guarantee a better future for the impoverished communist nation.

The appeal came days after North Korea launched a long-range rocket Friday. Though the rocket exploded soon after takeoff, the launch drew international condemnation as it violated a U.N. Security Council resolution.

The resolution bans Pyongyang from using ballistic missile technology that could be capable of carrying nuclear weapons. North Korea has conducted nuclear tests twice in the past and claims to be a nuclear weapons state.

“North Korea may think it can threaten the world and promote internal unity with nuclear weapons and missiles, but this is putting itself in greater danger,” Lee said in his biweekly radio address.

“We clearly see from history that the former Soviet Union collapsed while engaging in an arms race to maintain its internal system.”

Friday’s rocket launch is estimated to have cost Pyongyang about $850 million. The money could have bought about 2.5 million tons of corn, enough to make up for food shortages in the country for six years, Lee said.

“The purpose of a country’s existence is to make people live happily and comfortably,” he said.

Lee stressed that the only way for North Korea to survive is to give up its nuclear weapons programs and cooperate with the international community through reform and openness, urging the regime to follow in the footsteps of countries such as China, Vietnam and Myanmar.

“There is no need for North Korea to fear change. No one is trying to threaten or change North Korea by force or coercion,” Lee said. “If North Korea changes itself, not only we, but also the international community, will together cooperate with North Korea.”

Also Monday, the leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, Park Geun-hye, called for a parliamentary resolution condemning the rocket launch, urging the North to refrain from additional provocations and to start anew as a responsible member of the international community.

“It is very important for us to speak with one voice on North Korea issues,” Park told a meeting of party leaders. “If our National Assembly conveys a united voice to North Korea on behalf of our people, it will be very meaningful, and the receiving side will consider it a message from our people.”

Park asked the party’s floor leader to begin negotiations with the opposition party.

A leading potential candidate for December’s presidential election, Park strongly criticized the rocket launch, saying the North is wasting resources that could have been used to feed its hunger-stricken people.

Meanwhile, the United States and China, two permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, agreed on Saturday on a draft presidential statement condemning Friday rocket launch, Kyodo News said Monday.

Quoting Security Council diplomats, the draft “determines the failed launch as a serious violation of Security Council resolutions banning North Korea from undertaking ballistic missile launches,” the news report said. It also said that the draft says the council “strongly condemns” Friday’s launch.

All 15 members of the Security Council will be discussing the draft statement and are likely to adopt it early this week, the report said.

From news reports