The Korea Herald


Seoul warns against further N.K. nuclear, missile tests in 2016

By 송상호

Published : Dec. 14, 2015 - 21:59

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North Korea may stage additional nuclear and missile tests including from a submarine next year, the country’s top military commanders warned Monday, calling for developing a joint response mechanism with the U.S. and airtight readiness posture at all times. 

In the wake of the abrupt calling-off of the much-touted performance by North Korea’s Moranbong Band last weekend in China, relations between Pyongyang and Beijing may well head further downhill, the military assessed. 

“We see that we should pay greater attention to the possibility of North Korea’s strategic and tactical provocations next year as it is forecast to continue nuclear and missile experiments including a submarine-launched ballistic missile,” Defense Ministry spokesperson Kim Min-seok said at a news conference. 

He was announcing the results of an annual meeting of some 150 three- and four-star generals from all military arms, as well as senior officials of the ministry and other affiliate organizations, designed to review the military’s performance this year and set forward next year’s policy direction.

“Due to the cancellation of the Moranbong Band show, the North Korea-China ties could again be estranged. ... So our ministry and Joint Chiefs of Staff plan to advance the joint operations scheme with the U.S.”

During the conference, the ministry also floated plans to step up its readiness against Pyongyang’s potential terrorist attacks next year. 

In a related development, Seoul and Washington plan to launch joint tabletop exercises in 2016 as part of their efforts to bolster their cyber and space warfare capabilities against the communist state. 

“Our military will maintain a firm readiness posture to deter and adamantly respond to North Korea’s various provocations including its threats of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction,” the ministry said in a statement. 

“The ministry and the JCS will meanwhile upgrade their integrated regional operational posture in preparation against its simultaneous and complex terror attacks.” 

During a discussion session, some senior military official raised the need for abolishing the statute of limitations for defense industry-related crimes, calling them “unpatriotic acts” and urging “harsh punishment,” a ministry official said. 

The military, the Navy in particular, has in recent months been reeling from a string of graft scandals involving former and incumbent commanders, sparking public criticism and calls for sweeping reform.

Defense Minister Han Min-koo, for his part, urged the commanders to make utmost efforts to regain public confidence in the face of the ongoing furor over the wrongdoings, a series of shooting rampages and other tragic accidents within barracks. 

“The static value of our military is to win a war against the enemy under any circumstance,” he was quoted as saying by ministry officials. 

“We have to make a military that is not only trusted by the people but also respected by them.” 

By Shin Hyon-hee (