President Moon Jae-in condemned North Korea's latest missile launch on Friday, saying dialogue with the communist nation is "impossible in a situation like this" and warning that the South is capable of destroying the North "beyond recovery."
Moon made the remark during a National Security Council meeting he presided over after the North fired a ballistic missile over Japan again earlier in the day, just days after the UN Security Council imposed new sanctions for its sixth nuclear test.
"Flouting the international community's condemnations and warnings and the UN Security Council resolution, North Korea again fired a ballistic missile," Moon said at the start of the meeting. "I sternly condemn and express anger at this series of provocations by the North."
Moon ruled out the possibility of dialogue.
"Dialogue is impossible in a situation like this," Moon said. "International sanctions and pressure will further tighten to force North Korea to choose no other option but to step forward on the path to genuine dialogue."
Moon also said the South will further beef up its defense capabilities to cope with growing nuclear and missile threats, while putting in maximum efforts to make sure that UN Security Council sanctions are thoroughly implemented.
Moon assured citizens that the country is capable of defending itself.
"In case North Korea undertakes provocations against us or our ally, we have the power to destroy (the North) beyond recovery," Moon said. "I hope the people will trust the government's determination and efforts, and go about their lives without wavering."
Moon also called for an early revision of an agreement with the US, which puts restrictions on the payload weight and range of South Korean missiles. Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump agreed to end the restrictions to help the South cope better with the ever-growing threats from the North.
During the meeting, Moon said the North is highly likely to undertake additional provocations and instructed the government to come up with measures while "concentrating all capabilities on efforts to make sure that UN sanctions are thoroughly implemented," presidential spokesman Park Soo-hyun said.
Moon also instructed the government to work with the international community to examine all diplomatic means so as to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear and missile programs, and ordered the military to put together effective and stern measures based on combined defense capabilities with the US, Park said.
Moon also ordered preparedness against new types of threats from the North, such as electromagnetic pulse weapons and biological threats, Park said. Officials cautioned against reading too much into the remark, saying it was a reiteration of a principle that the country should be prepared for all kinds of threats.
Officials said that signs of North Korea's missile launch preparations were reported to Moon on Thursday afternoon. After the report, Moon ordered the military to take military action in response. Under the order, the military conducted live-fire ballistic missile drills after the North's firing, officials said.
"Signs of North Korea preparing a missile launch were detected around 6:45 a.m. yesterday and were reported to the president," an official told reporters. "The president, without taking anything else into consideration, approved the firing of Hyunmoo missiles upon North Korea's missile provocation."
During the NSC meeting, participants strongly condemned the North for carrying out the missile launch despite the international community's warnings, while cautioning that the series of provocations would only deepen the North's diplomatic and economic isolation, Park said. (Yonhap)