South Korean President Moon Jae-in ordered his country's military Tuesday to display its capabilities that can overwhelm North Korea should the communist state decide to attack, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said.
The order came hours after Pyongyang launched what appeared to be an intermediate range ballistic missile that flew over Japan, according to Cheong Wa Dae officials.
The show of overwhelming force involved the dropping of eight Mark 84 or MK84 multipurpose bombs by four F15K fighter jets at a shooting range near the inter-Korean border in Taebaek, Yoon Young-chan, Moon's chief press secretary, told reporters.
The National Security Council convened an emergency meeting following the North Korean missile launch shortly before 6 a.m.
"The NSC standing committee denounced North Korea for violating the UN Security Council resolutions by again launching ballistic missiles despite stern warnings," Yoon told a press briefing.
Chief press secretary Yoon Young-chan (Yonhap)
In a telephone conversation that also took place shortly after the latest North Korean missile provocation, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and her US counterpart Rex Tillerson agreed to push for additional sanctions by the UN Security Council, according to Yoon.
Chung Eui-yong, Moon's top security adviser, also held a telephone conversation with the White House's National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster to discuss the allies' joint measures against the North's latest missile provocation.
"McMaster said President Donald Trump fully supported President Moon's North Korea policy and the South Korean government's measures against North Korean provocations," Yoon said.
Tuesday's missile launch by the North marked the 14th of its kind since the beginning of the year, and the ninth since the Moon Jae-in administration took office in May.
A Cheong Wa Dae official, while speaking on condition of anonymity, said the allies were also considering deploying "strategic" defense capabilities to South Korea without elaborating on what they might include.
Still, the South Korean leader stressed the importance of efforts to improve inter-Korean ties and resume dialogue.
"Even today, North Korea made a missile provocation, but that is when we must work harder to bring about a change in the South-North relations," Moon said to the new vice chairman of the National Unification Advisory Council in a ceremony held at Cheong Wa Dae.
Moon earlier stressed the need to put what he called "maximum pressure and sanctions" on North Korea for its provocations.
He, however, has insisted the final and only objective of the sanctions must be to bring the impoverished state back to the dialogue table and peacefully resolve the North Korean nuclear issue.
Appointing the new head of a freshly established committee on economic cooperation with Russia and other northern states, including North Korea, Moon also called for efforts to enhance economic cooperation and exchanges with the communist state.
"The Northern Economic Cooperation Committee is the first of its kind established by our government not only for economic cooperation with Russia but also trilateral cooperation among South Korea, the North and Russia," Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Park Soo-hyun quoted him as saying. "I expect the committee to play a great role as opening an era of economic cooperation in Northeast Asia is also a move to open a shortcut to unification." (Yonhap)