World Bulletin / News Desk
“North Korea will fear us more and the people will have more faith in our military,” Moon was quoted as saying by the Yonhap News Agency during a ceremony ahead of this Sunday’s Korean Armed Forces Day.
He stressed the transfer of operational control (OPCON) would “lead to a great development of our military's structure and capabilities.”
Seoul had been planning to take full military control from its ally the U.S. by the end of 2015, but Moon’s predecessor postponed the move indefinitely.
The North has continued to defy the international community by conducting banned nuclear and missile tests regardless of the presence of around 30,000 American military personnel in South Korea -- a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.
While the Moon administration is not pushing to deploy nuclear weapons in the South, it is stepping up efforts to complete its own preemptive strike system capable of attacking anywhere in North Korea.
“Our government's determination to protect peace requires strong defense capabilities,” the president said. “And we will stand up against reckless provocations with strong punishment.”
Since his inauguration in May, Moon has generally maintained a desire for inter-Korean dialogue and peace on the peninsula, even as Washington has upset the North with direct threats of military action.