SEOUL – South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said Monday he would offer the north a sweeping aid package in return for denuclearization, a deal long seen as a fallacy for Pyongyang.
The proposal comes days after the North threatened to “wipe out” authorities in Seoul over a recent Covid-19 outbreak and less than a month after leader Kim Jong Un said his country was “ready” to expand its nuclear capabilities to mobilize war with the United States”and the South.
However, Yoon called denuclearization “essential” for lasting peace on the peninsula and on Monday unveiled a large-scale relief plan that would include food and energy and help upgrade infrastructure such as ports, airports and hospitals.
“The bold move I envision will gradually and significantly improve North Korea’s economy and the livelihoods of its people as the North halts development of its nuclear program and embarks on a process of denuclearization, real and substantial,” Yoon said in a speech marking the anniversary of South Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule in 1945.
Analysts say the chances of Pyongyang accepting such an offer – first made during Yoon’s inaugural speech – are extremely low, as the North, which invests much of its GDP in weapons programs, has since long made it clear that he would do nothing.
North Korea has conducted a record campaign of weapons testing this year, including firing an ICBM at full range for the first time since 2017.
Officials in Washington and South Korea have repeatedly warned that the North is preparing to carry out its seventh nuclear test.
- Editor / additional report by AFP