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S.Korea Ready For ‘Immediate’ Reply To N.Korean Test

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Interim South Korean leader maintains firm stance on North Korea despite uncertainty on home front

South Korea' acting president, Hwang Kyo-ahn, has demanded Thursday that the military be ready for “an immediate response” to a North Korean provocation.

North Korea has kept the world guessing since a failed missile launch Sunday. Pyongyang watchers expect a nuclear or long-range missile test by the reclusive state this month -- fueling speculation of a preemptive U.S. strike.

“I call on the military to keep close tabs on the possibility of North Korea's provocations and strengthen its [readiness] posture for an immediate response,” Hwang said at a cabinet meeting according to local news agency Yonhap.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence warned Pyongyang not to test Washington when he was in Seoul this week, but Hwang cautioned North Korea could make a move “at any time”.

Seoul’s stance may only be temporary, however, as South Korea will hold a snap presidential election next month.

Liberal frontrunner Moon Jae-in, currently leading polls, has drawn criticism for refusing to acknowledge North Korea as the Seoul's “main enemy.”

South Korea’s Defense Ministry reminded reporters Thursday that Pyongyang’s regime and military were described as Seoul’s “enemy” in a white paper last year.

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