Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo vowed Monday to maintain a staunch readiness posture for North Korean provocations as Pyongyang has ratcheted up tensions with projectile launches even after South Korea and the United States ended joint exercises.
"North Korea has heightened military tensions by firing a series of short-range projectiles and making verbal attacks against the South," he said during a speech at the first World Congress of Security Studies hosted by Korea National Defense University held in Seoul.
Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo (Yonhap)
Pyongyang has conducted a series of weapons tests, involving new types of short-range ballistic missiles, in recent months with the latest one taking place Saturday amid stalled talks with Washington on its nuclear weapons program. So far this year, the North conducted a total of nine rounds of missile tests.
"While maintaining a firm military readiness and the combined defense posture with the US, our military is strongly backing the government's diplomatic efforts" to resolve tensions with North Korea, he said.
The defense chief also called for the restoration of trust and cooperative ties among countries, citing deepening feuds with Japan over its "unfair economic measures" against South Korea and a Russian warplane's violation of the Korean airspace last month.
"South Korea strives to further strengthen cooperation with all nations to establish the order of peace and prosperity in East Asia ... and the denuclearization of North Korea," Jeong said, vowing to continue such efforts "prudently with patience."
Relations between South Korea and Japan have plummeted to their lowest point in years after Japan dropped South Korea from its list of trusted trading partners earlier this month following the announcement of tighter export curbs on July 4 in apparent retaliation against the Seoul top court's ruling on wartime forced labor.
In response, South Korea last week announced its decision to terminate its military information-sharing pact with Japan.
The two-day forum was attended by dozens of world-renowned scholars and experts from at home and abroad, including Stephen Walt from Harvard University and John Ikenberry from Princeton University, to serve as a venue to discuss security situations in East Asia. (Yonhap)