TEHRAN, May 3 (Korea Bizwire) — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani suggested Monday that his country is opposed to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
“We want changes on the Korean Peninsula and we are, in principle, opposed to any nuclear development,” Rouhani said in a joint news conference with South Korean President Park Geun-hye after their summit in Tehran.
Rouhani’s comments are the latest in acts of international pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear program and end its provocations.
South Korea hopes that North Korea will follow in the footsteps of Iran in curbing its nuclear activities and joining the international community.
Park said she called for Iran’s cooperation in the faithful enforcement of U.N. sanctions resolution against North Korea that were imposed after Pyongyang carried out its fourth nuclear test and a long-range rocket launch earlier this year.
Speculation has grown that North Korea could carry out a fifth nuclear test to mark a rare congress of the ruling Workers’ Party scheduled for Friday.
Park and Rouhani observed the signing of 20 out of 66 MOUs after their summit, the first meeting between the leaders of the two countries since the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations in 1962.
Seoul hopes the MOUs boost bilateral trade and pave the way for South Korea to eventually win massive infrastructure projects under way in Iran.
Cheong Wa Dae, South Korea’s presidential office, described the MOUs as major economic accomplishments.
An Chong-bum, senior presidential secretary for economic affairs, said the MOUs could help South Korea boost bilateral trade.
The trade volume between Korea and Iran stood at US$6.1 billion in 2015, compared with $17.4 billion in 2011.
Iran, which has 80 million people, has emerged as a promising market as it is pushing to rebuild an economy and modernize railways and other major infrastructure following the lifting of international sanctions earlier this year.
The U.N. lifted sanctions on Iran in a follow-up to a nuclear deal reached with the United States and five world powers over Tehran’s disputed nuclear program.
More than 230 South Korean business executives and leaders have accompanied the president on her state visit to the Islamic Republic to explore new business opportunities.
A South Korean company signed a preliminary deal with its Iranian counterpart worth $5.3 billion to build a 541-kilometer-long track bed for a railway.
Cheong Wa Dae said the preliminary deal could boost the chance of inking a formal deal down the line.
The MOUs also include a $10 billion project by a South Korean consortium to build facilities to produce heavy oil in the southern Iranian port city of Bandar Jask.
Also Monday, Park is set to meet with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to discuss how to boost relations between the two countries, according to South Korea’s presidential office.