SEOUL – President Yoon Suk Yeol vowed Tuesday to strengthen the military's surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities after five North Korean drones infiltrated South Korean airspace the previous day.
Yoon said during a Cabinet meeting that Monday's incident showed clearly that the military's readiness posture and training had been "greatly lacking" and in need of strengthening.
"I believe the people clearly saw the danger of a North Korea policy that relied on North Korea's good intentions and military agreements," he said.
"We had been planning to establish a drone unit to carry out surveillance and reconnaissance operations on North Korea's key military facilities, but in the wake of yesterday's incident, we will move up the drone unit's establishment as much as possible," he added.
Yoon voiced regret that the National Assembly slashed the government's proposed budget for anti-drone operations by 50 percent next year, saying he will work to convince the Assembly to increase the amount.
"We will strengthen our surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities by introducing advanced stealth drones," he said.
The National Assembly passed the 638.7 trillion won (USD497 billion) government budget early Saturday after weeks of wrangling between rival parties over how far to cut the corporate tax rate and other issues.
Under a compromise deal, the parties decided to cut the corporate tax rate by 1 percentage point in each of the four tax brackets, although the government and the ruling People Power Party had called for a 3 percentage-point cut,
"It is very regrettable that the new government's first budget aimed at reviving people's livelihoods in difficult economic circumstances was sharply revised," Yoon said.
This week's Cabinet meeting drew special attention because Yoon was set to approve pardons for a number of politicians, including former President Lee Myung-bak.
"We collected the opinions of various circles and carefully decided on the subject and scope of the pardons," Yoon said. "I hope these pardons will serve to unite our national strength." (Yonhap)