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N. Korea 'highly likely' to launch further provocations: top diplomat

2017/09/28 22:35

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SEOUL, Sept. 28 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is "highly likely" to launch additional military provocations and South Korea and the United States are working together to prepare against such possibilities, South Korea's foreign minister said Thursday.

"The possibility of North Korea's additional provocations is very high. For that reason, South Korea and the U.S. are bracing for various types of possible provocations through close collaboration," Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said in a live interview with cable channel JTBC.

"The countries are currently cooperating to have full preparedness and strong deterrence against whatever types of provocations," she said, without giving details on how the allies would respond to such provocations.

Following its sixth nuclear test and the firing of a ballistic missile into the northern Pacific Ocean earlier this month, Pyongyang is widely predicted to go for further military adventurism next month.

On Oct. 10, the country marks the 72nd anniversary of the founding of its ruling Workers' Party of Korea. For North Korea, a major political anniversary has often been celebrated with a show of military force.

Referring to South Korea's tightening defense posture and sanctions against North Korea, the foreign minister said they are in response to Pyongyang's continued provocations. Even with the harder line posture, Seoul's ultimate goal is talking its neighbor out of its nuclear program, she said.

"The basic purpose of strengthened pressure and sanctions is to change North Korea's attitude and make it come out for talks. It does not mean we are not going to talk (with North Korea)," she said. "If North Korea continues to provoke, pressure will only get stronger."

   North Korea's speed in advancing its nuclear and missile programs is "faster than expected," she also said, adding that they are very "worrisome." "For this reason, the international community needs to act in unison" in implementing United Nations Security Council resolutions on North Korea, she noted.