Go to contents

Defense chief-designate vows air strikes on NK

Posted December. 04, 2010 14:15,   


Defense Minister-designate Kim Kwan-jin said Friday that thorough retaliation will deter further provocations by North Korea, saying Seoul will use air strikes if necessary.

At his parliamentary confirmation hearing, Kim said that if Pyongyang makes another provocation, Seoul will mobilize all of its combat capabilities and use combined forces if necessary to strike back.

He said the artillery attack on the South’s front-line island of Yeonpyeong was a matter of self-defense, not the rules of engagement. “At the time, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff should have ordered our fighter jets to attack,” Kim added.

The right to self-defense means responding to an enemy provocation and can be exercised until the root of the threat is eliminated, he said.

He attracted attention by answering questions asked by members of the National Assembly’s National Defense Committee while maintaining an upright position throughout the hearing.

On if a strong response could escalate into war, Kim said Pyongyang will find it difficult to stage a full-scale conflict considering its economic situation and power succession process.

Kim said Seoul and Washington are closely watching all signs in Pyongyang and possess reliable means to prevent a full-blown war. Even if South Korea conducts strong retaliation, he said, it will not lead to a full-scale war.

When Rep. Chung Dong-young of the main opposition Democratic Party asked Kim about his opinion on the engagement policy toward the North by the two previous administrations in the South, Kim answered, “I will simply execute my duty as defense minister.”

Kim also said he will reduce the administrative burden on military officers.

On cutting the period of mandatory military service, he said, “I believe that 24 months are appropriate. With reduction of the period being implemented, I will act to maintain the period of 21 months.”