South Korea's Defence Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo speaks during the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue summit in Singapore on June 1, 2019. (ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP)
SINGAPORE — Defense Minister of the Republic of Korea (ROK) Jeong Kyeong-doo on Saturday fended off calls to step up pressure on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) after it test-fired missiles last month.
Jeong told an annual security conference in Singapore that the tests were being investigated and a conclusion is within reach.
"There are discussions whether or not it is a short-range ballistic missile. There is a perspective that it is a Russian Iskander missile, or it is a new tactical ballistic missile," he said.
"There are data that we can verify, and we are working off those data to make sure we have a verification."
Jeong was responding to a question on whether the tests were a violation of a military agreement between the ROK and the DPRK last September to halt acts of aggression against each other.
He said the DPRK was "in fact acting within the boundaries" of the agreement and tensions between their militaries "have been lowered to a significant extent."
"So currently the actions done by the North Korean regime have the intent to carry out the peace process through dialogue and talks. And I believe that's the hidden intent behind the lines in terms of their missile launches."
The ROK is also referred to as South Korea and DPRK as North Korea.
Jeong called on the international community to "assure North Korea that the decision to denuclearize is indeed the right decision."
He said that the ROK sees humanitarian aid and the lowering of military tensions as ways "to lead North Korea into conversation and away from ... the ways of the past."
DPRK itself has defended the launches, saying it was exercising its right to self-defense.
The US and Japan say the short-range ballistic missile tests on May 4 and 9 were a violation of UN Security Council resolutions. The tests ended a pause in launches that began in late 2017, and came amid deadlocked negotiations to rid the DPRK of nuclear weapons.
HONG KONG NEWS