Moon voices strong confidence in defense posture after N.K. missile test

SEOUL-- President Moon Jae-in voiced strong confidence in South Korea's defense posture Friday, saying he proposed an end-of-war declaration with North Korea based on such readiness and vowing to deal sternly with any threats to the country.

His Armed Forces Day speech came hours after North Korea said it test-fired an anti-aircraft missile a day earlier in the third missile launch in about two weeks. Earlier this week, the North tested what it claimed was a "hypersonic" missile.

"I have pride in our solid security posture. I have proposed adopting an end-or-war declaration and opening a new era of conciliation and cooperation to the international community based on such trust and pride," Moon said in a televised speech marking the 73rd Armed Forces Day.

"The government and the military will respond sternly to any acts threatening the lives and safety of people," he said during the ceremony held on board the Marado, a landing platform helicopter (LPH) ship, in Yeongil Bay in the southeastern port city of Pohang. The bay is where the U.S. forces launched its first military landing operation during the 1950-53 Korean War.

Moon, however, did not mention North Korea's latest missile launches in the speech.

Last week, Moon proposed in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly the two Koreas and the United States, possibly joined by China, declare a formal end to the 1950-53 war. The North in response has expressed a willingness to discuss such a declaration on the condition Seoul ensures mutual respect.

The two Koreas are still technically at war, as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty.

Moon stated the first and foremost responsibility of commander in chief is creating and maintaining lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula and vowed to respond sternly to any acts threatening the lives and safety of the people.

He also stressed South Korea is further beefing up its security and defense posture, and stated the country was "producing more powerful missiles" following the full lifting of U.S.-imposed restrictions on missile development.

Moon also outlined the military's latest development breakthroughs, such as the launch of a new 3,000-ton-class submarine capable of launching ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and the development of a prototype for the KF-21, South Korea's next-generation fighter jet.

The president also highlighted "both South Korea and the U.S. were strengthening its joint defense posture" as part of efforts in meeting the conditions of South Korea's envisioned takeover of wartime operation control of its forces.

He also underscored Seoul's efforts in increasing budgets toward national defense, research and development of next-generation weapons, and wages for enlisted soldiers.

Moon also called for a bold reform of the military's workplace and human rights culture, in an apparent response to the recent public outcry over a series of recurring military sexual and physical abuse cases, and the military's inadequate response to them.

"Human rights should be central in efforts of reform. I ask you to remember that reforming with resolve akin to bone-cutting determination is the shortcut to becoming a strong military," Moon said.

Source: Yonhap news Agency

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