South Korea’s new president shocked the world Wednesday when he said there was a “high probability” of conflict with North Korea, which is moving ahead with their weapons testing, despite U.S. objections.
The comments came just hours after the South said it was interested in opening a new channel of dialogue with the North as President Moon Jae-in seeks a two-track policy – sanctions and dialogue – to thwart its neighbor, Reuters reports.
There are more than 28,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea in case of an attack from North Korea.
The North has openly admitted they’re working to developed a nuclear-armed missile with the capability of hitting the U.S. mainland and has repeatedly ignored calls to halt its weapons program – even from its only real ally, China.
It conducted its latest ballistic missile launch, in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, on Sunday which it said was a test of its capability to carry a “large-size heavy nuclear warhead,” drawing Security Council condemnation.
“The reality is that there is a high possibility of a military conflict at the NLL (Northern Limit Line) and military demarcation line,” Moon was quoted as saying by the presidential Blue House.
Moon also said that the North’s nuclear and missile capabilities have been advancing rapidly, but the South was still ready and able to strike back if attacked.
Moon won an election last week on a more liberal approach toward the North and said he wants to pursue both dialogue and pressure.