Seoul navy chief asks military to be alert against ‘provocations’

Seoul, Oct 21 (IANS) The South Korean Naval chief on Friday urged the military to remain on high alert to counter North Korea’s “provocations” in the border islands, a day after the northern neighbour test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile twice.

“As North Korea can stage provocations near the tense sea border at any time, the military should be on high alert to counter any unexpected maritime attacks from the North,” Yonhap news agency quoted the Navy Chief Admiral Um Hyun-seong as saying during his visit to the Marine Corps 6th Brigade on Baengnyeong Island, close to North Korea.

The admiral stressed that the Navy and Marine Corps should cooperate with the army and the air force to be fully prepared to defeat any enemy attacks.

The US Army strongly condemned the missile test, reiterating that it violated UN Security Council resolutions “to limit the development of nuclear weapons in North Korea”.

US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has “strongly condemned” the failed ballistic missile launch and threatened an “overwhelming” response if North Korea uses a nuclear weapon.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command said Pyongyand had likely launched a Musudan intermediate-range missile near the northwestern city of Kusong. US and South Korean monitors said the missile exploded shortly after takeoff.

Meanwhile, the US, South Korea and Japan are to hold a vice-ministerial level meeting over emerging threats from North Korea. The Deputy Foreign Ministers of the three countries – Lim Sung-nam of South Korea, Tony Bliken of the US, and Shinsuke Sugiyama of Japan – will take part in the security talks in Tokyo on October 28.

The South Korean foreign ministry said in a statement: “The situation is graver than ever due to the North’s continued provocations. During the meeting, we will have an in-depth discussion on coordination among the three countries in the face of the North’s threat and provocations, while seeking to intensify additional sanctions of our own and pressure against it.”