Yoon says ‘irrational’ N.K. likely to carry out provocations ahead of April elections

SEOUL, President Yoon Suk Yeol said Wednesday that the North Korean regime is an "irrational group" that has legalized the preemptive use of nuclear weapons and will likely carry out multiple provocations to interfere with South Korea's April parliamentary elections. Yoon's remark came as North Korea has ratcheted up tensions on the Korean Peninsula with a series of weapons tests since the start of the year, including back-to-back cruise missile launches last Wednesday, Sunday and Tuesday. In recent remarks, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un also likened inter-Korean relations to those of "two states hostile to each other" and called for revising the North's constitution to define the South as a "primary foe and invariable principal enemy." "Such actions themselves are anti-national and anti-unification, and provocations and threats that run counter to history," Yoon said while presiding over the annual central integrated defense council meeting at the former presidential compound of Cheong Wa Dae. "The No rth Korean regime is an irrational group that has legalized the preemptive use of nuclear weapons as the only (country) in the world to do so. If it was a sensible regime, it would abandon its nuclear weapons and search for a way for its people to live, but the North Korean regime is bent only on maintaining its hereditary, totalitarian regime," he said. Yoon also said North Korea's suspected weapons trade with Russia is a "very threatening provocative act" against not only global security but also security on the Korean Peninsula. He further noted South Korea's upcoming parliamentary elections on April 10, which he said are at the center of a liberal democratic political system. "For the past 70 years, the North Korean regime has worked tirelessly to bring down the Republic of Korea's liberal democratic system, and in years with important political events, it has constantly carried out social disturbances, psychological warfare and provocations," he said. "This year we expect to see many provocations aim ed at interfering in our elections, such as border area provocations, drone infiltrations, disinformation, cyberattacks and rear disturbances," he added, noting the possibility of a North Korean provocation is considered high among foreign security experts. Wednesday's meeting brought together some 170 people from the government, military, the National Intelligence Service and other fields to discuss ways to respond to various North Korean provocation scenarios. Unlike previous years, the meeting was also attended by 11 members of the public who have contributed to the nation's defense, marking the start of a new chapter in ensuring an "integrated defense" system, according to the presidential office. Source: Yonhap News Agency