South Korean President Moon Jae-in strongly condemned North Korea's latest missile launch Wednesday, vowing to ramp up sanctions and pressure on Pyongyang.
"I strongly condemn North Korea for staging such reckless provocations," Moon said in an emergency meeting of the National Security Council held hours after the communist state launched what was believed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile.
"North Korea must immediately give up its reckless pursuit that will lead to its isolation and demise, and come to the dialogue table. The government will never tolerate North Korean provocations," he added, according to the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.
The latest North Korean missile test marked the first of its kind in 75 days and 11th since the Moon Jae-in administration took office in May.
"Until now, our government has repeatedly stressed that we will provide a bright future should North Korea stop its provocations and come to the dialogue table. Despite our such sincere efforts and appeals, North Korea launched a ballistic missile today. This is an act that not only raises tension on the Korean Peninsula but also threatens global peace and security," the South Korean leader said.
Moon said South Korea will continue to build up its defense capabilities, insisting the communist state leaves it no choice but to overwhelm the North with sheer power.
"(South Korea) will continue to come up with strong and practical measures together with the international community. It will further strengthen its capabilities to immediately remove threats in case of an armed provocation and protect the Republic of Korea from North Korea's nuclear missile threats with overwhelming power," he was quoted as saying.
The president also ordered the military to maintain a complete defense posture to prevent or retaliate against any North Korean provocations.
He then strongly advised Pyongyang to halt its military provocations, noting they could make the United States believe a pre-emptive strike may be necessary.
"Should North Korea complete developing a ballistic missile that reaches other continents, the situation could deteriorate beyond repair," Moon said, according to his chief press secretary Yoon Young-chan. "We must prevent the possibility that North Korea may misjudge the situation and threaten us with its nukes or the United States may consider a pre-emptive strike."
Hwi Won firstname.lastname@example.org