S. Korean parliamentary chief calls for stronger S. Korea-U.S. efforts to address N.K. threats

WASHINGTON, South Korea's National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo stressed the need Wednesday to beef up joint deterrence efforts by Seoul and Washington to address evolving North Korean military capabilities, which he said pose a "direct" threat to the continental United States. Kim made the remarks during a forum hosted by the Institute for Korean Studies at George Washington University, urging Pyongyang to cease its nuclear threats and return to the "path of denuclearization." "Despite South Korea's attempts to initiate dialogue, North Korea has escalated provocations to unprecedented levels with advancements in ICBMs, SLBMs and nuclear-powered submarines. North Korea now poses a direct threat not only to the Korean Peninsula but also to the continental U.S.," he said. ICBM and SLBM stand for intercontinental ballistic missile and submarine-launched ballistic missile, respectively. "(South Korea and the U.S.) have consistently strengthened the operational capabilities of extended deterrence. I firmly be lieve that we are moving in the right direction and must continue to intensify our collective endeavors in this regard," he added. Extended deterrence refers to America's commitment to using the full range of its military capabilities, including nuclear to defend its ally. The allies have been pursuing an integrated form of extended deterrence with Seoul leveraging its high-tech conventional military capabilities. Kim stressed that the international community will "never" accept North Korea as a nuclear power, highlighting Seoul's steadfast efforts to stop the North's provocative activities and persuade the recalcitrant regime to come back to diplomacy. "I strongly urge North Korea to cease nuclear threats and provocations, and come back to the path of denuclearization," he said. Moreover, he pointed out Pyongyang's activities to bankroll its weapons of mass destruction programs through illicit means. "Our two countries must work together to prevent North Korea from accessing illegal sources of funding t o finance its nuclear program," he said. "Despite the dire situation faced by North Korean residents, including food and power shortages, the regime continues to advance its nuclear and missile capabilities, using illegal funding through cyber hacking and other activities," he added. The speaker then called for the international community to stand united to block Pyongyang from accessing illegal financial resources and to dissuade it from its nuclear program. Source: Yonhap News Agency