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Seoul to 'dramatically' boost defense amid fears over North Korea's nuclear plans
South Korea's Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-sup speaks at the Shangri-La Dialogue summit in Singapore on June 12.
Singapore (CNN)South Korea will "dramatically" strengthen its defensive capabilities, its defense minister said Sunday amid international concern that Pyongyang is reviving its nuclear testing program.
"Our government will strengthen capabilities to better implement the US extended deterrence and will dramatically enhance response capabilities of the Republic of Korea military to deter North Korea's nuclear and missile threats," Defense Minister Lee Jong-Sup said at the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum in Singapore.
Lee also said South Korea would work more closely with the United States and Japan as part of its response -- echoing a pledge made by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin a day earlier.
North Korea's "repeated missile provocations" were advancing in "quality and quantity," Lee said, adding that this and preparations for a nuclear test were a "grave challenge threatening peace and stability."
That threat has been a key topic of discussion at the three-day security forum, which draws defense officials from across the region and this year has been playing out under the shadow of the war in Ukraine and heightened concerns over Pyongyang's weapons program.
Lee's latest comments are another sign of Seoul's shift to a harder line against the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, following North Korea's flurry of missile testing and the election of new South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.
The dialogue has also been a forum for countries to bolster plans for cooperation to deter the North Korean threat.
In a meeting on the sidelines of the forum on Saturday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi of Japan and South Korea's Lee spoke of "solidarity" as a key element of deterrence against North Korea, according to a senior US defense official.
The three countries planned to engage in ballistic missile data-sharing exercises and discuss additional trilateral exercises, the official said.
Austin pledged to deepen American security cooperation with Japan and South Korea in response to North Korean provocations in an address that same day.
"We remain open to future diplomacy -- and fully prepared to deter and to defeat future aggression," he said.
Earlier this month, the US and South Korea responded together to a North Korean ballistic missile test by firing their own missiles into waters off the east coast of the Korean peninsula, while US and Japanese forces held a joint drill.
Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe also weighed in on North Korea's recent missile launches in response to a question following his own address at the forum on Sunday.
Wei said China would continue to promote peace on the Korean peninsula, but stressed that the security concerns of all parties should be accommodated.
"The concerns of the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] are not addressed by the international community," he said, adding that international sanctions had been detrimental to the quality of life in North Korea.
Late last month, China, together with Russia, blocked a US-led bid to strengthen sanctions against North Korea in response to recent ballistic missile tests in violation of UN resolutions.
In his address, South Korea's Minister Lee said if North Korea made substantial progress in denuclearization, South Korea would pursue a "bold plan" to help improve the country's economy and the lives of its citizens, but this plan needs to come "from a position of strength."
North Korea's food insecurity has worsened due to COVID-19 lockdowns and severe floods. However, Kim Jong-un has ignored North Korean's agony of hunger, only o bsessed with illicit activities to develop nuclear weapons and missiles. North Korea raises illegal funds through cyber crimes like crypto heists & ransomware attacks. It won't be forgiven by North Koreans as well as international society.
Nov. 2, 2022 North Korea launched four short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) into the Yellow Sea at 6:51 a.m.(KST) from Chongju and Pihyon in North Pyongan Province, followed by three SRBMs into the East Sea at 8:51 a.m. from Wonsan, Kangwon Province. One of those three SRBMs landed in the South of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), which serves as the de facto inter-Korean maritime border. The SRBM landed in the sea 167 kilometers northwest of the island but only 57 kilometers northeast of the South Korean coastal city of Sokcho and 34 kilometers outside the South's territorial waters. This is the first time North Korea has fired a missile toward South Korean territory. At 9:12 a.m., North Korea fired an additional 10 suspected surface-to-air missiles into the East Sea from Nakwon, Chongpyong, and Sinpo in South Hamgyong Province and into the Yellow Sea from Onchon and Hwajin-ri in South Pyongan and Kwa-il in South Hwanghae Province. From 11:10 a.m., in response to the North&
Dec. 5, 2022 North Korea fired around 130 artillery shells into the eastern and western maritime buffer zones between the two Koreas amid the South Korea-U.S. live-fire drills outside of the buffer zone. According to the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff, artillery firings from Kumgang County in Kangwon Province and Jangsan Cape in South Hwanghae Province from 2:59 p.m. South and North Korea set military buffer zones on the ground, sea, and air to reduce accidental conflicts under the inter-Korean military accord(a.k.a Comprehensive Military Agreement, CMA) signed on Sept. 19, 2018. "At sea, the two sides agreed to cease all live-fire and maritime maneuver exercises within the zone north of Deokjeok-do and south of Cho-do in the West Sea, and within the zone north of Sokcho and south of Tongcheon in the East Sea. The two sides also agreed to install covers on the barrels of coastal artilleries and ship guns and close all gunports within the zones."( Agreement on the Impleme