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N. Korea continues missile development: defense minister nominee

10:41 September 16, 2020

SEOUL, Sept. 16 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is continuing to develop its missile capabilities, Defense Minister nominee Gen. Suh Wook said Wednesday, vowing to sternly respond to any provocations.

Suh made the remark in an opening speech during a confirmation hearing at the National Assembly amid speculation that the North could showcase a new strategic weapon at the 75th founding anniversary of its ruling party on Oct. 10.

"North Korea is focusing on preparations for the 75th party founding anniversary event after suspending military action plans against the South in June. But as military activities continue, including missile development, we are closely watching related moves," Suh said.

In June, Pyongyang drastically heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula by blowing up the inter-Korean liaison office building in the North's border town of Kaesong and threatening to take military actions against the South.

The nominee said the military will sternly respond to any provocation or threat while actively supporting inter-Korean exchanges to back peace efforts on the Korean Peninsula.

Suh also vowed to promote the South Korea-U.S. alliance and defense cooperation with other neighboring countries to bring peace in the region.

"Based on the strong South Korea-U.S. alliance, we will actively accelerate the transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON)," he said, pledging to strengthen the two countries' combined defense posture.

The Seoul government seeks to retake the wartime OPCON before the current Moon Jae-in administration's term ends in May 2022, though the transition is not time-based but conditions-based.

In this file photo, taken on July 29, 2019, Gen. Suh Wook gives a congratulatory speech at a conference in Seoul. He was nominated as new defense minister on Aug. 28, 2020. (Yonhap)

scaaet@yna.co.kr
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