Political uncertainty in the United States and in South Korea could give North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “an apt time” to develop nuclear weapons “at all costs by the end of 2017,” a high-profile North Korean diplomat who recently defected to South Korea said Tuesday.
“Due to domestic political procedures, North Korea calculates that South Korea and the US will not be able to take physical or military actions to deter North Korea’s nuclear development,” Thae Yong-ho, formerly No. 2 at the North Korean Embassy in London, said in a news briefing, according to the Yonhap News Agency.
Thae said Kim has no plans to give up the country’s nukes even if he is offered huge sums of money, saying the leader is “racing ahead with nuclear development after setting up a plan to develop it (nuclear weapons) at all costs by the end of 2017.”
Pyongyang will then try to open dialogue with Seoul and Washington’s new administrations as a nuclear-possessing state, Thae predicted of the North’s strategy to obtain a nuclear power status.
Until then, North Korea will continue to launch military provocations and conduct nuclear tests in a bid to frustrate Seoul and Washington’s sanctions-concentrated policy towards Pyongyang, Thae said.
Tuesday was the 55-year-old Thae’s first appearance to the media since he escaped his post in London to take refuge in South Korea along with his wife and two sons in July.