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(LEAD) S. Korea on alert for N. Korea's provocations

All News 17:40 December 08, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES with minister's call for reform, JCS chief's comments in paras 4-5, last 3 paras; ADDS photos)

SEOUL, Dec. 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's defense ministry said Friday North Korea is likely to continue with military provocations, such as further missile firings, maritime intrusions and cyberattacks.

The assessment came as Defense Minister Song Young-moo hosted a year-end meeting of more than 150 senior commanders nationwide.

He pointed out that the South's armed forces have maintained a watertight defense posture throughout this year while the North carried out a sixth nuclear test and 15 ballistic missile launches.

"As North Korea's asymmetric threats, such as nuclear, missile and cyber attacks, have grown, war conditions have become completely different from (those of) the past," the minister said.

He added that the unconventional threats have made defense reform in the South more urgent.

"Accordingly, we have to build a 'new strong military' as early as possible on the basis of a new operational concept to meet the new war paradigm."

The South Korean defense ministry building is shown in this file photo. (Yonhap)

Song and the commanders predicted the North will stick to its provocations, as it regards the weapons program as a means of regime survival and seeks to increase its bargaining power with the U.S., according to the ministry.

They also took note of the possibility of a strategic provocation by the North, such as trespassing across the Northern Limit Line, another artillery attack, or an act of terrorism or hacking meant to obstruct an international event here.

The 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games are scheduled to open in February in the eastern South Korean town of the same name.

The defense leaders agreed to make all-out efforts to support the successful hosting of the sports event.

South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo (R) holds a meeting with top military commanders at the defense ministry building in Seoul on Dec. 8, 2017, in this photo provided by the ministry. (Yonhap)

Gen. Jeong Kyeong-doo, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), convened a separate session with senior commanders of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the Marine Corps later in the day.

They focused on reviewing ways to beef up the monitoring of the North's military activities and the South's readiness to respond, said the JCS.

He reiterated the importance of military reform and full security support for the PyeongChang Olympics.

Gen. Jeong Kyeong-doo, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), and other top commanders salute the national flag at the start of their meeting in Seoul on Dec. 8, 2017, in this photo provided by the JCS. (Yonhap)


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