Feb. 12 (UPI) -- South Korean conservatives traveling with a parliamentary delegation to Washington have voiced concerns about a new nuclear crisis in the event of collapsed talks on North Korea denuclearization, according to a South Korean press report.
News 1 reported Tuesday members of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party met with former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell as well as other former U.S. officials, sometimes independently of the larger South Korean delegation led by National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang.
During a meeting with Lt. Gen. Wallace Gregson, a former assistant secretary of defense on Asian Pacific security affairs, Liberty Korea Party politicians expressed concerns of a "nuclear domino" should a declaration of the end of the Korean War follow the planned Hanoi summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.
Gregson, who is retired, had reportedly said an end-of-war declaration that comes despite lack of progress on complete denuclearization amounts to political propaganda, according to News 1's South Korean sources.
Gregson, who was once the commanding general of Marine Corps Forces Pacific and Central Command, also reportedly said if North Korea does not follow through with denuclearization steps, there is concern of the higher likelihood of a nuclear arms race in Japan and South Korea.
Liberty Korea's Na Kyung-won, a veteran politician and conservative, said she agrees with any views the "rapid progress" in inter-Korea relations have created difficulties for the United States.
The group also paid their respects to fallen U.S. soldiers at the Korean War Memorial in Washington, according to News 1.
The South Korean delegation's visit comes at a time when economists in Seoul are reassessing the performance of the North Korean economy, and calls are growing from pro-engagement groups for greater business exchange.
Seoul Pyongyang News reported Tuesday a researcher at government-run Korea Institute for National Unification said statistics on the North Korean economy are lowball figures that do not capture actual growth rates.
Kim Suk-jin said at a forum at Seoul National University North Korean GDP growth rates could be much higher than estimated by the Bank of Korea. In a decade, the North Korean economy could have grown by as much as 10.5 percent, Kim said.