(ATTN: ADDS National Security Adviser's telephone discussions with U.S., Japanese counterparts in paras 10-11)
By Lee Haye-ah
SEOUL, Oct. 4 (Yonhap) -- The office of President Yoon Suk-yeol strongly condemned North Korea's firing of an intermediate-range ballistic missile Tuesday, vowing to hold Pyongyang accountable with stronger sanctions and other consequences.
The launch, which marked the fifth missile test in just over a week, represented one of the gravest provocations the North has undertaken in years as the missile flew about 4,500 kilometers over Japan before crashing into the Pacific Ocean.
The National Security Council held a meeting attended by Yoon, and "strongly condemned" the launch, saying it was in clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and a serious provocation threatening peace on the Korean Peninsula, in Northeast Asia and beyond, his office said.
The NSC also said the North's continued provocations cannot be overlooked, and vowed to look for various ways to further deter North Korea, including through the strengthening of sanctions in concert with the U.S. and the international community.
"President Yoon noted that North Korea's provocation clearly violated the U.N.'s universal principles and rules, and ordered a strict response, as well as the pursuit of corresponding measures in cooperation with the United States and the international community," it said.
Yoon also said North Korea's nuclear and missile provocations will only strengthen security cooperation within and outside of the region, including between South Korea, the U.S. and Japan, and instructed officials to hold consultations on ways to reinforce the U.S. extended deterrence commitment to South Korea and upgrade the level of security cooperation between Seoul, Washington and Tokyo.
The NSC meeting was presided over by National Security Adviser Kim Sung-han and attended by presidential chief of staff Kim Dae-ki, Foreign Minister Park Jin and Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup, among others.
Earlier in the day, Yoon also warned the North of a "resolute" response.
"As I stated on Oct. 1 Armed Forces Day, such reckless nuclear provocations will be met with a resolute response from our military and our allies, as well as the international community," Yoon told reporters upon arrival for work.
Yoon's National Security Adviser Kim Sung-han held separate telephone discussions with his U.S. counterpart, Jake Sullivan, and Japanese counterpart, Takeo Akiba, over the North's missile launch, according to Lee Jae-myeong, deputy spokesperson for the presidential office.
Kim, and the U.S. and Japanese national security advisers reaffirmed they will resolutely deal with the North's "grave provocation," Lee told reporters.
North Korea has conducted five missile launches in just over a week in apparent protest of stepped-up military exercises involving South Korea, the U.S. and Japan, including a naval exercise with the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier.
The launches have further raised tensions as North Korea has been expected to conduct what would be its seventh nuclear test in the coming weeks.
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