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New defense chief vows to strengthen SKorea's posture against NKorean nuclear threat

New defense chief vows to strengthen SKorea's posture against NKorean nuclear threat

South Korea's new defense minister vowed Friday to beef up the country's defenses against a possible threat from a nuclear North Korea, amid deepening instability on the Korean peninsula.
The military "will intensively strengthen monitoring and intelligence capabilities, precision attack forces and (its) nuclear defense posture," Kim Jang-soo said in his inaugural speech, according to a transcript provided by his office.
Kim also stressed that he will develop an "optimal combined defense posture" with the United States based on the "solid South Korea-U.S. alliance."
Speaking to top South Korean and U.S. military officials, he said the North's missile and nuclear tests have deepened regional instability. He added that the South Korean military will back Seoul's efforts to resolve the nuclear dispute peacefully.
The North agreed recently to return to six-party talks on its nuclear program, ending a yearlong boycott after Washington imposed financial restrictions on North Korea over alleged money laundering and counterfeiting.
The talks involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan are expected to resume next month.
Kim replaced Yoon Kwang-ung as defense minister earlier this month, as part of a reshuffling of key Cabinet security posts by President Roh Moo-hyun in the wake of North Korea's nuclear test on Oct. 9.
Kim also said he will consult with the United States to ensure that South Korea's position on regaining wartime control of its forces from Washington is reflected in any new defense agreement.
South Korea transferred control of its forces to a U.S.-led U.N. command in 1950 that helped the country repel invading communists from North Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War.
While peacetime control of the military was given back to the South in 1994, the U.S. is supposed to take control of the military if war breaks out on the Korean peninsula.
Last month, South Korea reached an agreement with the United States to retake full wartime operational control of South Korean forces from the U.S. sometime between 2009 and 2012.
The issue has been a hot topic in South Korea for months, with conservatives, including some of the country's former defense ministers, claiming that the transfer is premature and would weaken the alliance, thus undermining deterrence against the North Korea.
Roh, who has asserted a foreign policy less dependent on Washington, has called for the transfer of command, saying that leaving control with the United States is a slight to national sovereignty.


Updated : 2021-10-21 18:28 GMT+08:00