South Korean President Moon Jae-in has warned that a war with North Korea is “highly probable” in the next few weeks.
The recently-elected President’s warning comes after Pyongyang performed a new missile test on Sunday, which was strongly condemned by the United Nations.
“The reality is that there is a high possibility of a military conflict at the NLL [Northern Limit Line] and military demarcation line,” Moon said, adding that Seoul is capable of striking back in retaliation.
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Rt.com reports: The disputed NLL lies in the Yellow Sea the between South and North Korea and is considered the de facto maritime boundary between them. The 1953 military demarcation line serves as the land border.
While North Korea claims the latest test launch of missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads was conducted “in consideration of the safety of neighboring countries,” Moon criticized Pyongyang’s actions as a “serious challenge to global peace and stability.”
“We will never tolerate such North Korean provocations and nuclear threats,” he stated during a visit to the Defense Ministry in Seoul Wednesday, as cited by Yonhap news agency.
Moon also said that Seoul will “sternly deal with the North” alongside the international community. The statement comes as the UN Security Council threatened with a new round of sanctions against Pyongyang.
However, North Korea does not seem willing to stop its missile launches, including nuclear ones.
“Until the US and its followers make the right choice, we will further produce sophisticated and diversified nuclear weapons and striking means and push to prepare for necessary tests,” Yonhap cites North Korean diplomat Pak Jong-hak as saying.
The missile launched Saturday reportedly covered a distance of 700km before descending into the Sea of Japan (also known as the East Sea), according to South Korean and Japanese militaries’ data. The projectile landed some 500km from the Russian border, but posed no threat to security, the Russian Defense Ministry stated. The test followed Pyongyang’s two previous failed attempts last month.
Tensions have been rising on the Korean Peninsula, with Washington sending warships to the region and conducting war games with its allies in attempt to deter Pyongyang from conducting more nuclear and missile tests.
Last month, Washington also positioned THAAD anti-ballistic missile systems in South Korea, which is aimed to protect the country from attacks by its communist neighbor. The move sparked protests in South Korea, with some citizens claiming the system could provoke the North to strike.
The US protection may not come for free, however, with US President Donald Trump asking for payment for the missile shield. Seoul has refused to discuss the matter, as it was initially agreed that the US would cover all the costs.
Russia and China have opposed the THAAD deployment, calling on the all parties to find a peaceful solution to the hazardous situation in the region.