South Korea vows ‘firm’ response to provocation by Pyongyang
(Update 1: changes head, adds South Korean president’s remarks, minor edits)
Seoul, Jun 6 (EFE).- South Korea’s president said Monday that he will respond “firmly” to any provocation by North Korea shortly after Seoul and the Washington fired eight ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan in response to the missile launches that Pyongyang carried out the previous day.
“Our government will respond firmly and sternly to any North Korean provocation,” Yoon Suk-yeol said during a Memorial Day ceremony held at the Seoul National Cemetery.
“We will make sure there isn’t a single crack in protecting the lives and property of our people,” he added, local news agency Yonhap reported.
Seoul’s new government under conservative president Yoon advocates for hardening its stance against its neighbor after a more conciliatory stance by his predecessor, and has said that it will respond accordingly to North Korean actions of this kind.
“Even at this moment, North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats are getting sophisticated,” said the South Korean president, in reference to Sunday’s launches. “North Korea’s nuclear and missile (programs) are reaching the level of threatening not only peace on the Korean Peninsula but also in Northeast Asia and the world.”
Earlier in the day, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said allies South Korea and the United States launched surface-to-surface missiles from the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) at 4:45 am for a period of 10 minutes.
“The South Korea-US combined firing of the ground-to-ground missiles demonstrated the capability and posture to launch immediate precision strikes on the origins of provocations and their command and support forces,” the JCS said in a press release.
The South Korean military “strongly condemns the North’s series of ballistic missile provocations and seriously urges it to immediately stop acts that raise military tensions on the peninsula and add to security concerns,” it added.
This coordinated action by Washington and Seoul came a day after Pyongyang fired eight short-range ballistic missiles from various locations across its territory, in an apparent show of muscle following allied naval maneuvers near the Korean Peninsula.
During those exercises, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was deployed, which had not happened since the end of 2017.
North Korea has carried out a record 18 missile launches so far this year.
On May 25, the Kim Jong-un-led regime fired two short-range projectiles and an apparent intercontinental ballistic missile – its first in more than four years.
On that occasion, South Korea and the US also responded with a combined launch similar to Monday’s, also their first since 2017.
The North Korean missile launches come at a time of escalated tensions between the North and its neighboring country and also with the US, whose denuclearization negotiations with the regime have been stalled since 2019.
South Korea and the US have also been warning for weeks of an imminent nuclear test by Pyongyang. EFE