MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Former South Korean Ambassador to Russia Lee Kyu-hyung has criticized the "double freeze" roadmap for the settlement of the North Korean crisis for requiring unjust concessions by Seoul in an interview to Sputnik.
The roadmap, also known as a double freeze plan, proposed by Beijing, backed by Moscow and rejected by the United States, provides for the simultaneous cessation of North Korea's nuclear activity and US-South Korean military exercises. North Korea has yet to issue a response to the proposal.
"I do not think it is a comprehensive roadmap. I know that it includes the double freeze plan, but the cessation of North Korea's nuclear activity and US-South Korean military exercises are two different things. Every country has a sovereign right to conduct exercises… On the other hand, nuclear tests are violating international law. We do not violate any law by conducting these drills. These two things cannot be considered on an equal footing," Lee, who now co-chairs the Russia-Republic of Korea Dialogue forum, said.
According to the diplomat, South Korea is a long-term ally of the United States and the two countries have been conducting joint exercises regularly for more than 50 years.
The South Korean envoy has called on the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and the rest of the world to unite and put pressure on North Korea, which could make it check its nuclear ambitions.
"We should get united. The P5 countries have the responsibility to prevent any country from being a nuclear weapons state. P5s along with other peace-loving countries should be working together to prevent such provocative acts by North Korea and its ambitions to possess nuclear weapons," Lee said.
According to Lee, the sanctions imposed on North Korea by the international community would be useful only if observed by all the parties concerned.
"North Korea’s economy relies heavily on ties with China. If China is serious and sincere in implementing the content of UNSC resolutions, North Korea will be absolutely very much affected and we will see some results. If resolutions against North Korea are observed by all the parties concerned, sanctions will be very effective."
The statement comes just hours after South Korea announced a fresh set of unilateral sanctions against Pyongyang, a day before US President Donald Trump's arrival in Seoul on an Asian tour, during which he is expected to hold a lot of discussions about the North's nuclear program. A total of 18 North Korean bankers based in China, Russia and Libya with suspected links to Pyongyang's weapons programs have been blacklisted, a statement posted on the South Korea's government website said.
On Donald Trump's Visit to South Korea
Commenting on US President Donald Trump’s ongoing Asia trip, the envoy has stated that it is unlikely to result in a "breakthrough" for the settlement of the North Korean crisis.
"It is his first time to visit the Asian countries. Trump will also attend [Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum] APEC. The North Korean nuclear question is one of the main topics of the international summit meetings and the leaders, including [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and Trump, are likely to continue exchanging views on the issue but I do not foresee a breakthrough at this time, however, exchanges of views are always useful," Lee said.
Trump, who visited Tokyo on Monday, flew to South Korea and is also expected to also visit China. The US president will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum hosted by Vietnam and finish his journey with a trip to the Philippines.
The statement comes amid an extended escalation on the Korean peninsula, following several ballistic missile launches and nuclear tests conducted by Pyongyang.