S. Korea urges North to drop nuclear, missile goals

South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak on Monday urged North Korea to abandon its missile and nuclear programme, warning that an arms race had led to the collapse of the former Soviet Union.

"North Korea may think it can threaten the world and promote internal unity with nuclear weapons and missiles, but this would instead put itself into greater danger," Lee said in a radio address.

"We clearly saw from history that the former Soviet Union collapsed while engaging in an arms race," he added.

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The North last week carried out a rocket test that ended in failure, disintegrating in mid-air soon after blast-off and plunging into the sea in a major embarrassment for the reclusive state.

The launch drew international condemnation despite Pyongyang insisting it was intended to put a satellite into orbit for peaceful purposes.

Lee accused North Korea of trying to develop a long-range missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

The botched rocket launch cost Pyongyang an estimated $850 million, enough to buy some 2.5 million tons of corn and solve its food shortages for six years, he said.

"The only way for North Korea to survive is to abandon nuclear weapons and cooperate with the international community through reform and openness," he said.

by Steve Weizman © 2012 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Apr 16, 2012