Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said Thursday that now is not the time to talk about dialogue with North Korea and that South Korea is working hard to impose maximum sanctions on the communist nation, including cutting off its oil supply.
"Sanctions, deterrence and dialogue are often talked about as means to stop North Korea's nuclear armament," Lee said during an address at the Seoul Defense Dialogue, a regional inter-governmental security conference.
"I believe that now is the time to strengthen sanctions to the maximum level while securing military deterrence means. Dialogue is ultimately necessary, but now is not the time to talk about dialogue with North Korea," he said.
Earlier this week, U.S. President Donald Trump criticized South Korea for taking a soft approach to the North. He said in a tweet following the North's sixth nuclear test that Seoul is finding its "talk of appeasement" with the North will not work.
The remark was seen as a swipe at Seoul's call for resuming dialogue with the North.
Lee said that there is not much time left before the North perfects its nuclear armament and South Korea is "hardening its determination to smash North Korea's illusion."
"The government of South Korea is working hard to raise sanctions on North Korea to the strongest level. The government of South Korea proposed that the U.N. Security Council hold an emergency meeting to adopt the strongest sanctions on the North," Lee said.
"President Moon Jae-in has been asking neighboring nations to adopt strong sanctions on the North, including halting crude supplies to the North and cutting off a source of foreign currency, such as banning exports of laborers overseas," he said.
Lee also said that South Korea is also trying to strengthen military deterrence, pointing out a recent agreement between Moon and Trump to remove the limit on the maximum weight of payloads for South Korean missiles.
"North Korea's nuclear armament poses threats not only to the security of Northeast Asia, but also to the security of the world," Lee said. "It is urgently needed for the international community to make concerted efforts."(Yonhap)