South Korea's president says engagement with Pyongyang is only possible if Seoul has superior firepower. The North has tested a rocket engine that could potentially be fitted to an intercontinental ballistic missile.
On a visit to South Korea's Agency for Defense Development, President Moon Jae-in on Friday watched the trial launch of one of his nation's own new ballistic missiles. South Korea's military plans to deploy the Hyunmoo-2 missile after conducting two more tests.
Moon's office quoted the president as calling the tests important for South Korea to maintain the military capability to "dominate" its neighbor in order to preserve the peninsula's uneasy peace.
The South Korean trial launch came just hours after Pyongyang reportedly test-fired its latest rocket. North Korea has tested several new systems this year in an accelerated effort to become the peninsula's dominant nation. The tests present a difficult challenge to Moon as he has expressed a desire to reach out to his neighbors.
News of the twin rocket tests came a day after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged China, North Korea's sole ally, to put more pressure on the regime to rein in its atomic weapons and missile programs. Calling North Korea the "top security threat" to the United States, Tillerson said China had a "diplomatic responsibility to exert much greater economic and diplomatic pressure on the regime if they want to prevent further escalation in the region."
US President Donald Trump, who has been critical of Moon's peace efforts, has also made halting a nuclear threat from North Korea his No. 1 foreign policy priority.
mkg/sms (Reuters, AFP, AP)