Amid increasingly strong signals North Korea is preparing to test a long-range missile, South Korea is warning that action would spark additional United Nations sanctions.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan dismissed North Korea's implicit threat to test launch a long-range missile as part of its "space development program."
Yu says, whether it is a missile or satellite, if North Korea launches it, it will inevitably trigger sanctions for violating a United Nations Security Council resolution.
The United Nations imposed sanctions to punish North Korea's 2006 test of its most-advanced long-range missile, which fizzled back to earth less than a minute into flight. More U.N. sanctions followed, just three month later, when Pyongyang conducted an underground nuclear test.
Minister Yu says the North's nuclear capability sharpens the threat posed by its ballistic missiles.
He calls North Korea's development of a long-range missile a provocation that threatens South Korea and the entire world's peace and security. He says it must be counteracted with urgency.
The North Korean Taepodong 2 missile - the one experts believe is being prepared at an eastern launch site in the North - is hypothetically capable of reaching the western United States. American military leaders say they have not ruled out shooting it down, if it is launched.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due to arrive here in Seoul Thursday. She describes the potential North Korean missile test as "unhelpful" to efforts toward getting rid of the North's nuclear weapons.
The six-nation talks that have gone on for six years toward that end are expected to dominate meetings between Clinton and Yu.
He says Seoul will work closely with the new U.S. administration on short and long-term strategies for the nuclear issue.
So far, North Korea has refused to agree on steps to verify the accuracy of a nuclear programs declaration it produced last year. Minister Yu says Pyongyang's reluctance shows it has "no will" to give up its nuclear weapons.