A senior South Korean general says the country's missile systems are capable of dealing a "fatal blow" to a potential enemy.
New Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Kim Seung-kyum made the comments after visiting a unit of the Army Missile Strategic Command, which he said was designed to deliver such a warning.
"As North Korea has undertaken various strategic provocations and is threatening the Republic of Korea, I thought I should send a different message to the enemy," Yonhap news agency quoted him as saying, referring to South Korea by its official name.
"Missiles that our Republic of Korea possesses are at a considerable level. I thought the visit carried and should carry a warning message that South Korea is capable of sending a fatal blow to the enemy," he added, Yonhap reported.
Earlier this month, South Korea's newly elected president urged the country's military leaders to "promptly and sternly" take action against any North Korean provocations.
Despite his reference to the North as an enemy, Kim explained that there was no need to call their northern brothers their enemies, nor to antagonize them should they not pose any threat against Seoul.
However, he stressed the importance of exercising the "right to self-defense" based on "basics and principles" in case of enemy provocations.
Kim, former deputy commander of the South Korea-US Combined Forces Command, took office last Tuesday amid growing concerns about the possibility of Pyongyang conducting what would be its seventh nuclear test after a five-year moratorium.
In a statement on Sunday, South Korea said it had detected “flight trajectories” earlier in the day that were suspected to be shots from multiple rocket launchers (MLRs) of North Korea.
Last week, the US Air Force was reported to have sent F-35 stealth warplanes to South Korea to carry out maneuvers, with a New York-based analyst saying the deployment would likely be viewed as a first strike threat by North Korea.
The Biden administration threatened North Korea last month with a “swift and forceful response” if Pyongyang conducted a nuclear test.
North Korea has tested a number of ballistic missiles this year, including massive intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), new hypersonic missiles, and a short-range missile potentially designed for tactical nuclear weapons.
It maintains that its weapons tests are a defensive measure against threats posed by the massive presence of US forces near its territorial waters and the regular holding of joint US-led war games with Japan with South Korea.