South Korean President Moon Jae-in strongly condemned North Korea on Sunday for its latest missile launch, describing it as a grave threat to regional security and a clear violation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions.
He also called on Pyongyang to reverse its course of provocations for the resumption of dialogue while warning that his administration would deal resolutely with its provocations in order to ensure it would not "miscalculate" the situation.
"Even if dialogue is possible, (we) should show (to North Korea) that it's possible only in case of North Korea changing its attitude," Moon said, presiding over a session of the National Security Council.
North Korea launched a ballistic missile around 5:27 a.m. from a site about 100 kilometers north of Pyongyang, South Korea's military said.
It was the North's first military provocation since the inauguration of Moon, a liberal leader favoring an engagement policy on the North.
He called it a "grave challenge" to the peace and security of the Korean Peninsula and the international community, presidential spokesman Yoon Young-chan told reporters.
In particular, Moon took issue with the timing of the North's missile firing, which is the second in two weeks and came just days after the launch of the new South Korean government on Wednesday.
Moon expressed "deep regret over North Korea's reckless provocation" and ordered his troops to bolster deterrence against its military threats on the basis of the robust alliance with the United States.
He especially instructed the military to speed up the establishment of South Korea's own missile defense system, called the Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD).
It flew some 700 kilometers for half an hour and dropped in the East Sea.
The U.S. Pacific Command, based in Hawaii, also announced that it detected and tracked the launch of the missile, which landed in the East Sea.
Given the flight distance, officials here said, the missile test is believed to be successful.
In a statement, the South's JCS denounced the North's behavior.
It urged the North to immediately stop its nuclear and missile development programs.
The JCS warned that the North would face "strong retaliations" from the allies if it continues to ignore their warning messages and sticks to provocations.
The North test-fired a Pukguksong-2 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), also known as the KN-15, from the same site on Feb. 12.
Sunday's launch, the North's first-known missile test in two weeks, came amid renewed hopes of inter-Korean dialogue under Moon's presidency.
Moon is expected to meet U.S. President Donald Trump as early as next month to coordinate an approach toward the Kim Jong-un regime. (Yonhap)