Despite North Korea's recent test-firing of a new submarine-launched ballistic missile, South Korea's military remains confident that its capabilities are more advanced and that it can counter any threat the North may pose.
During a parliamentary audit session on Thursday, Defense Minister Suh Wook said, the launch itself does not mean it was a successful one.
Following any launch, the platform would also have to be analyzed as too whether the submarine operates normally after.
As of now, the South Korean military does not see the North as having fully-fledged SLBM capabilities.
"The missile has to be integrated with the platform, so we believe the North is in the primary stages of developing an SLBM."
Suh added that the North's SLBM could be intercepted too and believes these factors put South Korea -- which has successfully launched its SLBM last month -- ahead of the North.
The remarks were echoed by Foreign Affairs Minister Chung Eui-yong during another audit session.
Both ministers also agreed that they do not consider the launch as a "provocation."
"It's a provocation when it directly inflicts damage on South Korean territory or its people. Rather, the launch is considered as a "threat."
It is seen as South Korea's efforts to resume dialogue with the regime.
And the international community is seemingly echoing that stance.
The U.S., despite calling it a "provocation," did not push ahead with adopting a UN Security Council resolution following an emergency meeting.
The North's state-media, in the meantime,reported that the U.S. had taken "provocative moves."
But emphasized that the test-firing is part of its sovereign rights and national defense, and not aimed at the U.S.
Observers saythe two sides exchanged relatively RESTRAINED responses, and managed to keep their dialogue for momentum for now.
Lee Kyung-eun, Arirang News.