SEOUL, June 29 (Yonhap) -- The option of scaling down the annual joint military exercise between South Korea and the United States is huge leverage in reining in North Korea's nuclear weapons ambition, a former career diplomat said Thursday in a forum hosted by Yonhap News Agency.
"I think the scale of the South Korea-U.S. joint exercise could be revised down or readjusted" on the condition that North Korea stops its nuclear and missile tests, freezes its production of weapon-grade plutonium and uranium as well as shutting down its nuclear facilities in Yongbyon and letting the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect the country, Shin Bong-kil, formerly a diplomat of 30 years, said in a forum co-hosted by Yonhap News Agency and the Ministry of Unification.
The annual forum was held to discuss the Moon Jae-in administration's vision for peace and unification of the Korean Peninsula.
Referring to his attendance at a semi-governmental meeting held between North Korea and the South Korea-U.S. side a month earlier in Stockholm, Sweden, the former ambassador to Jordan, said that "From what I have heard there, the thing more painful for North Korea than international sanctions it is now facing was the joint South Korea-U.S. military exercise."
"Given that the recent talk of the possibility of (U.S.) pre-emptive attacks and a (South Korean contingency) operation to decapitate Kim Jong-un put North Korea in a state of sever alertness, it is huge leverage," Shin said, referring to the option of downsizing the joint Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises the allies carry out every spring in South Korea.
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