SEOUL Jan 3 U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's
comments on North Korea show he is aware of the urgency of the
threat posed by its nuclear programme and will not waver from a
policy of sanctions against the isolated country, South Korea
said on Tuesday.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said on Sunday his
nuclear-capable country was close to test-launching an
intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), raising the prospect
of putting parts of the United States in range.
Trump dismissed the claim, saying on Twitter: "It won't
South Korea's foreign ministry said Trump's comment, his
first mention of the North Korean nuclear issue since the U.S.
election in November, could be interpreted as a "clear warning"
to the North.
"Because of our active outreach, President-elect Trump and
U.S. officials are clearly aware of the gravity and urgency of
the North Korean nuclear threat," ministry spokesman Cho
June-hyuck told a briefing.
"They are maintaining an unwavering stance on the need for
sanctions on North Korea and for close cooperation between South
Korea and the U.S.".
Trump has not outlined a policy on North Korea but during
the U.S. election campaign indicated he would be willing to talk
its leader, Kim, given the opportunity.
The United States has for years dismissed North Korean calls
for talks, insisting it must disarm first.
Instead, the United States and ally South Korea have
responded to two North Korean nuclear tests and various missile
tests last year with ever-more severe sanctions.
A North Korean ICBM, once fully developed, could threaten
the continental United States, which is about 9,000 km (5,500
miles) from the North.
ICBMs have a minimum range of about 5,500 km (3,400 miles),
but some are designed to travel 10,000 km (6,200 miles) or
North Korea worked last year on developing components for an
ICBM, making the claim that it was close to a test-launch
plausible, international weapons experts said on Monday.
(Reporting by James Pearson; Additional reporting by Jeongeun
Lee; Editing by Robert Birsel)