S. Korea gov’t making all efforts to avoid military clash with North
SOUTH Korean President Moon Jae In said Thursday his government is making all efforts to prevent the tense situation on the Korean Peninsula from escalating into an armed clash.
“All efforts are being made to manage the situation in a stable way to prevent the rising tensions from turning into a military clash (with North Korea),” Moon said in a speech delivered at a ceremony marking the 69th South Korean Armed Forces Day, which falls on Sunday.
“We will overcome the crisis and maintain peace” despite the North’s nuclear and missile threats, Moon said.
“Our government’s resolve to protect peace should be based on strong national defense capabilities,” he said, adding that North Korea’s “reckless provocation” would be met with strong retaliation.
The South Korean leader also called for the transfer of wartime operational control of its own armed forces from the United States at an early date.
“Regaining wartime operational control, based on independent defense capabilities, would improve our military’s constitution and capabilities to a considerable degree,” he said.
“North Korea will fear us more and the people will have more trust in our military when we have wartime operational control,” he said.
Under current arrangements, a US military commander would lead both U.S. and South Korean forces in the event of an armed conflict against the North on the Korean Peninsula.
South Korea’s previous attempts to regain operational control over its forces have been put off over fears of increasing nuclear and missile threats from Pyongyang.
At Thursday’s ceremony, some of South Korea’s “strategic” weapons such as Hyunmoo-2 ballistic missiles and Hyunmoo-3 cruise missiles were displayed in a show of force.
Tensions have escalated on the peninsula after North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test, the most powerful to date, and test-fired a ballistic missile over Japan earlier this month. – Kyodo